Friday, June 10, 2011

Baking Lessons


Yesterday I decided I bake an apple pie. Simple enough, right? But never having done so before I felt like it would be a fun challenge--no matter how it turned out. Worse case scenario I'd just pitch it and learn from my mistakes. (a "what if...?" mindset workaround.) When I went to Jewel to buy some Granny Smith apples I couldn't find the sheets of pre-made pie dough anywhere. "I'll make it myself," I thought as I ran down all the ingredients involved, knowing I had them all. With some Internet recipe research I realized once made, the pie dough needed to be chilled for 4 hours or over night. "No problem! I'll make the dough tonight and bake the pie tomorrow." Easy peasy.

After therapy I puttered around until afternoon when I decided it was "go" time. I rolled out the first ball of buttery dough and placed it expertly into the pie dish to pre-bake it a bit. No one wants soggy pie bottom, right? Hmmmm...pie weights were in order. I'd seen on all the cooking shows that dried beans do the trick nicely. I'd always wondered where I could actually use the bag of lentils we'd had in the cabinet for years. Perfect! (because I'd never be able to cook them. Even better!) Once in the oven, I checked on it a few times, and though wasn't sure what I was looking for, felt semi-confident it was going semi-well.

Meanwhile I received a phone call from our property management company. It was Dave. Awesome Dave who I'd worked with last year after Ken's surgery to have improvements put into the apartment to make it handicap-friendly. He wasn't being very specific on the phone but I figured he was calling to check on the leak I'd called about earlier in the week.


"So what are we gonna do?" he asked when he was finally done speaking.

"About..." I knew then we were not talking about a maintenance issue.

"The rent."

"I'm confused. I paid the rent." And my Quicken-obsessed mind knew the check had cleared on the 3rd.

He said he was confused. I guess he didn't really know why he was calling, but as he skimmed the email the landlord had sent him (who had been on the distribution list I sent regarding Ken's passing), he said, "Oh, the landlord wants to know if you're going to stay in the unit; if you can afford it."

"Yes. I'm staying."

"Okay. Sorry for the confusion. Bye."


It's not that I feel every person needs to acknowledge Ken's death, what it meant to me or the world at-large, or even that I felt he was being insensitive. But he was addressing a result of something with no mention of the cause of the circumstance. In his defense, maybe the landlord didn't spell it out, but for me it was a harsh reminder of the devastating change that has so recently thunderstruck my life. At the end of the phone call my demeanor had changed. I could feel it surging. And I did think, "what a dick."

A moment later I pulled my almost-golden crust out of the oven and poured out the never-again-cookable lentils. Well, most of them. I was shocked to find the bottom layer of the little beans was inlaid into the crust like glazed Venetian tile. That was it! I'd had it! I was trying something new and something that was supposed to be fun and it had all turned to shit. It took every ounce of indifference I could muster to not threw everything--pie plate included--into the trash can.


My mood change was obvious and almost jarring. I sat down to journal really more as a way of zenning out than necessarily figuring out what the crux of the problem was. But as my fingers clicked away, the answer was revealed to me. Ken would have fixed my unfortunate pie situation. He could fix anything. He was the fixiest fixer EVER. He would have come into the kitchen, put his arms on me and told me to calm down. He'd probably shake me a martini! It was a jab of grief that was as upsetting as it was relieving. But I'd figured it out. And that was satisfying...and tiring. After some befuddled slogging around, I grabbed PadLo, turned on a recent kenron favorite "9 to 5" and snuggled in for a cry and nap.

When I woke up I felt better, and bit lighter. I poked my head into the kitchen, casually mulling around my lentil pie shell. Upon closer inspection, I found the last layer of them flicked out pretty easily. After a few moments, I had an empty pie shell, ready for the sugary apples I'd prepared. Before I knew it, I was rolling the dough for the top, and slapped that baby in the oven! All was not lost!

For my first attempt, I give myself a "B" for the result. However, it was the process that was far more valuable to me.

'Scuse me while I kiss this pie.



  1. Oh, my sweet friend, you have such a way with words and your analogies and use of learning from all situations always amazes and inspires me! Thanks for sharing your pie baking adventure!


  2. That is totally not a "B" grade pie! You pulled an A- at the very least, if not a solid A. Good thinking on the lentil flicking solution. I think you will always be able to turn to him for advice in the kitchen.:-)