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On Berry Pie and Babies

Berry Pie with Buckwheat Crust

What better to soothe a weepy new mother than a slice of homemade berry pie and a decaf espresso topped with cream?

Sorin’s birthday was last week and so I baked a pie. He happened to walk through our sweaty, un-airconditioned kitchen while I was trying to roll out dough that was too soft and throwing together the filling without measuring anything and we both looked at each other and laughed about the same thing, why didn’t we just buy a damn pie? Any other woman, one week postpartum during an intense heatwave, would’ve had the sense to do so. But no, I had to bake it myself. And it turned out to be quite delicious, despite soft dough and no measurements, which makes me think this is a good recipe to pass along. Pie is finicky. But this recipe seems to defy the odds again and again, always turning out no matter how hard I try to screw it up.

But before the recipe, let me tempt you with this sweet little foot. Don’t you just want to kiss it?

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Despite my prediction that the baby wasn’t ever going to come, she did, arriving on her due date with 14 minutes to spare.

I ran into a friend in the pediatrician’s waiting room last week and she said, “aren’t second babies delicious?” Although I’ve never been one to say babies are so cute I want to eat them up, I had to admit this time that delicious was just the right word.

First babies are amazing for the absolute awe they inspire. When you’re an adult, not all that much feels new anymore, but a first baby makes the whole world new again.When O was born, I felt like my world had been cracked open and a flood of emotions and experiences I never could’ve predicted came rushing in. You change when you have a baby. Your marriage changes, the daily rhythm of your life changes, your feelings about your career change, the way you view the world changes. It’s amazing, but also really, really hard.

A second baby slips into your life like a soft breeze. She nurses and sleeps and wakes and poops and makes little squeaky noises and around her, our life continues on much like it did before.  A second baby is like someone you already know finally showing up. There you are, I thought, when she was first placed on my chest all wet and warm and staring right at me, of course.

And there’s a feeling of victory with a second baby, isn’t there? Not only did you survive the first one, but you chose to do it all over again and this time you feel like you know what you’re doing. The hiccups won’t kill her and there’s no need to burst into tears every time she does; if you put either breast milk or aquaphor on it, it will clear up; just breastfeed whenever and don’t worry about how much they are or aren’t eating or what their poop looks like; life won’t be like this forever, it will get easier.

The arrival of our sweet little J completes our family and everything feels just as it should be. I want to bottle up this time so it never disappears completely. The weepiness this go-round comes not from being overwhelmed but from knowing the sweet newborn stage will be over so soon. These childbearing years are so hard and exhausting and completely lovely. And they pass so quickly.

Of course, by the end of next week I’ll probably be begging for mercy. The blissed out wave of hormones I’ve been riding since she was born will finally come crashing down, the reality of not having my mom here anymore cooking and cleaning and entertaining O will set in, I’ll be exhausted and un-showered and my hair will start shedding and the toilet will need to be cleaned and the laundry will pile up and the baby will be inconsolable just as O needs me to come in and sit with her while she takes 20 minutes to go to the bathroom and I will think, dear god, please let these babies grown up into independent people soon.

But until then, I’m in love. Pure, sweet, baby love.

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O & J, two sweet sisters

Three Berry Pie with a Buckwheat (or rye) Crust

The pie crust recipe I use is 101 Cookbooks Flaky Rye Pie Crust. She has a link to a Melissa Clark video about how to make crust in a food processor, which is what I always do. I also pre-bake the bottom pie crust like Melissa Clark does.

This time I was out of rye flour and used buckwheat flour instead and the crust still turned out really well, light and flaky with a subtle nutty flavor. Regular buckwheat flour is usually toasted and the flavor is too strong for pie crust – instead, buy raw buckwheat groats and blend them yourself into flour. Sounds fussy, I know, but it’s not hard to do. Whole Foods and probably many health food stores sell raw buckwheat groats. Simply blend them in a blender until very finely ground.

101 Cookbook’s filling is fancier than what I threw together: about 2 pounds of mixed fresh blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries, 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I like tart, not overly sweet pie filling), a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of vanilla and 4 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca (to thicken the filling, instead of flour). Now that fall is here, I think this crust would be great with apple pie filling, too.

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