Cherry Pie is My Mom’s Pie

9 Aug Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

Sour cherry pie is my mom’s pie. Long before pie was my thing, my mom was filling the freezer with cherry pies. I didn’t even like them until well into my adulthood and don’t remember my mom making any other fruit pies. “Why can’t you make apple?” I protested.

My parents have lived in their 100-something year-old Sears catalog (no joke!) farmhouse bungalow since I was 13. We had previously lived in a townhouse with generous but communal green space when my parents bought this very simple and outdated—it didn’t have a shower or a dishwasher—house. It had a barn and a chicken coop on two acres with a creek as the western property line and was surrounded by hundreds of acres of grape farms.

I don’t remember if the fruit trees were there when we moved in or if my parents planted them along with the ambitiously large gardens we had in those early years. The peach and apple trees were never all that successful. But every year in July, the cherry tree would be heavy with tart red berries and my mom and I were charged with harvesting and pitting the juicy fruit before the birds gorged themselves.

I was a typical teen girl with wildly undulating emotions, most of which manifested as angsty resentment toward my mom. I didn’t like cherry pie and her cherry-pie-making was obviously [insert eye roll] another example of her egregious lack of regard for me; so looking back I imagine that I made the chore pretty unpleasant for my mother. I hated the bugs that the bright fragrant berries attracted, and I hated the sticky crimson juice that ran down my arms as we picked and pitted them. Continue reading

Pie is Meant to be Shared

8 Aug Pie lesson 1

Pie lesson 1

“Sometimes people are layered like that. There’s something totally different underneath than what’s on the surface. Like with pie.”- Joss Whedon 

I’ve developed quite the reputation for my obsession with pie over the years.  In the same way I don’t understand my brother-in-law’s passion for collecting coins, not everyone understands why pie is so exciting to me. That’s the beauty of a hobby – it’s personal and driven by an intrinsic energy that is summoned by that particular activity.  For my brother-in-law, it’s coins.  For my husband, it’s records. For my friend, it’s keeping bees. For me, it’s pie.

But some people GET me.  One of those is my friend, Christie.  We’ve known each other for more than a decade.  She was on the board of the non-profit I worked at back when we were young, passionate women who were birthing our first babies and saving the world. We ran in similar circles over the years and were reunited about three years ago when Christie became a colleague of mine at the current non-profit hospital we raise money for. Among the many things we had in common, we shared a love of making pie. More importantly, we discovered that we were similar in our love for not just making pie, but making it for other people, gathering, feeding and extending generosity to others whenever we could. We were pie soulmates.

Exactly one year ago, I reached out to Christie with an idea.  I had been neglecting Pie Eyed because I was experimenting with other blog platforms but I missed it. There was so much potential in this little blog but I needed to infuse it with some new energy.  And I knew exactly where to find it – Christie.

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I talk a lot about pie being a metaphor for life, and it could not be more true right now.  Pie is meant to be shared, and so is Pie Eyed.  It took us a year of planning and dreaming, but we are finally ready to introduce a new and improved Pie Eyed to the world and I am excited to introduce you to Christie!  She will be my partner in pie, baking, writing and working with me to bring you some exciting changes in the coming months. We can’t wait to double the pie love around here and share our enthusiasm for living a simple and generous life!

Em and Christie

Partners in Pie:  Christie and Emily

Raspberry Peach Pie

13 Jul IMG_8894

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The Republican National Convention is about to invade my city in a matter of days.  Politics is in the air and I want to crawl under my bed and hide.  It’s my least favorite subject and I avoid it at all costs.

I’m the mushy middle.  Hopelessly moderate on just about everything political and non-political.

Parenting – I have no strong feelings about organic/BPA/homemade baby food/disposable diapers/sleep schedules….I’m over here like, do your best people.

Food – Equal opportunity eater.  I see the value in organic but I also see the price tag. I would love to eat only local, but I also need to feed my kids and be out the door in 30 minutes. Trader Joe’s will have to do because the lettuce I bought at the farmers’ market is starting to wilt and I didn’t purchase local meat because we had to go straight from the market to baseball.

Philanthropic causes – If you are a cheerleader by nature like me, then you can’t pick just one!  How I wish I had a cause that I was 100% passionate about.  One that I volunteered for and spent my time raising awareness and funds for. But Miss Moderate over here supports everything a little bit, “likes” it on Facebook and sends $100 donations here and there to worthy efforts.

Diet and Exercise – I run…a little bit.  I do yoga…sometimes.  I did the 10 Day Detox…for four days.  I eat clean…when I feel like it. I’ll limit my sugar intake…tomorrow. Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Clean – where is the label for people like me that just do what feels right?  Oh wait, that’s emotional eaters.

All hope is not lost. There are a handful of unrelated things that I am 100% passionate about and do not waiver.

Women – Anything having to do with women, women’s health, women’s equality. You won’t be able to rip me out of my firmly planted views of the importance of raising up women in all facets here in our country and across the globe. The health of women’s lives in any given society (education, physical health, employment, etc.) is indicative of the health of that society as a whole.  See, I have soap box tendencies.

Dancing – I don’t care what I look like or who is watching.  I can’t stop myself.  I’m that sweaty, ridiculous dancer cutting it up to “It Takes Two” on the dance floor. I don’t just sometimes dance.  I always dance. Not matter what.

Pie – What is it about me and pie?  I can’t shake it!  I could talk about it forever!  I find so much value in this highly coveted pastry. I am nowhere near as passionate about cake and cookies.  I’m back in the moderate category when it comes to those.  But pie, the holy grail of baking challenges, is my passion.

And with that, I give you the must-eat pie of the summer.  No moderate opinions on this one.  Raspberry Peach Pie is summer in a crust. Continue reading

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Perfected

29 Jun IMG_8716

Rhubarb

Strawberry rhubarb pie is MY pie.  The one that I would choose over all others.  The one that I wait 10 months out of the year for and spend the other two hoarding rhubarb as if the apocalypse is upon us. I grow it, I buy it, I steal it from neighbors’ yards.  Nothing stands between me and rhubarb in these late spring and early summer months.

Strawberry rhubarb is also the pie that carries the most memories for me.  My grandmother made it and my recipe is a variation of hers.  For some reason, pie gets more street credit if it comes from a grandmother.  Add to that a Hungarian immigrant grandmother (though strawberry rhubarb has nothing to do with Hungary) and you have a legit legacy happening there. It’s become my mission to perfect this pie.

Truth be told, the original recipe was better in my memories.  It needed a little enhancement, so I have spent the past few years adjusting the recipe in the hopes of perfection.  The one thing standing in my way was the inevitable juice factor – my pie was delicious but habitually runny.  I had almost resigned to the fact that it was just going to be this way until a happy little accident happened to me last week.

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I was preparing a dessert that called for rhubarb to be coated in sugar. Somewhere along the way I didn’t get past this step and bailed on my plans for that particular dessert.  A couple of hours later I decided to make a pie and found that the sugar had helped release much of the water from the rhubarb.  I proceeded with my pie to find that it was PERFECT.  I’m not kidding – compact, beautiful and not runny at all!  This was too good to be true.

I made pie again my usual way.  Delicious but runny.

I made pie again the new way letting the rhubarb sit in sugar ahead of time. Delicious and NOT RUNNY!

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People, I have put the final piece of the puzzle together and I give you the best strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. Continue reading

I Miss Pie

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I’m homesick for this blog.  Pie Eyed was started so innocently, as a way to lighten my personal load and channel energy into something uplifting. And it worked.  I loved where this blog took me over the years.

I took a break from pie when my love of writing random thoughts ignited a new blog I named Fix Serve.  It was a cousin to Pie Eyed but focused more on my hobby of writing essays and less about baking. It seemed logical to separate the two but I have been homesick for Pie Eyed ever since.

I’m more comfortable here.  On these familiar, unfussy pages, I take myself less seriously.  I’ve been quiet in my writing because I’m tired of hearing myself think. And I’m tired of being a part of the sea of blogs that tell each other what they think through open letters and numbered lists of opinions about mundane topics. Pie Eyed was lighter, less serious and, well, me.  In a time when our world is getting more serious by the minute, I want rewind and go back to pie.

So, in an open letter to no one who is paying attention, here are five reasons I am going back to pie:

  1. Pie keeps my mind light and surrounds me with comfort and good feelings.
  2. Pie is timeless and infuses my psyche with a reminder to keep things simple.
  3. Pie reminds me that beauty is on the inside.
  4. Pie inspires gathering – you can’t eat one alone.
  5. Pie gives us something to agree on in a world where our differences are dividing us.

I’m going back to pie.  My place where the world stays simple and we talk about things that are interesting, beautiful and delicious.

15 ways to betteryourself at work

 

Pie Spiked Maple Cakes

15 Nov

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The Privilege of Helping

My name is Emily and I am a chronic helper.  Anyone who has been the recipient of my gestures can attest – I am well intentioned, but I am an eager, enthusiastic helper who though genuine, can run the risk of over-helping.  Back in grade school, it was a minor holiday for me when the teacher would introduce a new student.  My mind would start racing with all the things I could help with and I’d make a beeline for them as soon as they were released from the teacher’s protective side.  I hadn’t known them 30 seconds before I had dreams of showing them around the playground and making friendship bracelets at sleepovers.  My adult self finds that same excitement every time I see a meet-and-greet put on my calendar at work for a new employee.  I mean, you never know when you’ll find your next friend!

When you are a helper by nature, it’s important to stay grounded in what helping really is; a privilege.  Continue reading

Apple Pie Pop Tarts

9 Oct

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The Kind of Eyes

My son stopped me the other day and asked me why my eyes didn’t look happy.  It was a moment where I was caught in the middle of kid homework, work email, neighbor kids in the backyard fighting over the football, and no ideas of what to make for dinner. My son was standing at my side smiling up at me, and I didn’t notice.  I faked the attention and he caught me.  I was so disappointed in myself that I had become so wrapped up in the stress of the moment, I had lost the ability to genuinely return his smile. I stopped, put on my happy eyes, knelt down and hugged him.  Ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about eyes.  Weird, I know.  Like my son, I also notice eyes and I can still see the eyes of people who have had some significance in my life.  I see them so vividly and this small incident with my son made me more aware of how eyes are so indicative of our true selves. Continue reading

Fall Harvest Handpies

4 Oct

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I purposely don’t spend much time scouring the internet for recipes.  I feel like they hinder my creativity by planting preconceived ideas in my head.  That’s kind of the way I feel about toys for my kids – we don’t have many because I’d prefer that they figure out how to play with something by using their imagination rather than be handed a toy that does the work for them.  I use recipes for inspiration once I’m already on to an idea; particularly if the recipe is unusual.  I let my imagination dictate what my next endeavor is going to be, and this pie was probably the most fun I have had trying to make my crazy ideas come to fruition.  This is a chronology of what happens when I wake up and decide I have a fixin’ for something…

Let me start by saying, this recipe was developed with A LOT of love and A LOT of dreams of what I wanted it to be.  These pies were inspired by the influences of my favorite things starting with a reader of my blog.  He told me about a recipe his grandmother used to make that was a minced mixture of apples, walnuts, raisins, spices – probably a version of a type of mincemeat pie. Continue reading

Don’t Put Their Light Out

13 Sep

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Photo credit: Trey Sieger, awesome photographer, awesome neighbor

Don’t put their light out. That’s all I keep thinking. It’s on repeat – no, it’s a permanent neon sign – in my mind as I hold my breath every time I open the school backpack or respond to another email from a concerned teacher.

This wasn’t how school was supposed to go. I was supposed to have kids who went merrily on their way each morning, dutifully paying attention to the teacher, following directions and leading a remarkably average K-12 life.  I thought I would be on the sidelines helping with homework and giving them moral support when they struggled with math or studied for a test.

But instead, I’m at the table with the 3rd grade teacher not three weeks into school nodding my head as I find out that this is not the year.  This is not the fresh start I was hoping for.  This is not the year that he magically grows up and focuses on his math page instead of staring out the window at the kids on the playground.  This is not the year that he stays in his seat and refrains from day dreaming, finally learning to complete his work with full sentences and proper spelling.

Later, I open an email to see that it is from the other one’s 1st grade teacher telling me that this IS the year.  This year he can’t stop talking.  This year is not off to a good start and he is too social and missing directions.  He dances in line, he chats with his friends, he doesn’t know how to whisper.  He. Doesn’t. Stop.  Two behavior charts, six emails and one phone call later, we’re now having a conference next week.

The conferences, the emails, the phone calls all end the same way; looking to me for answers of how to make it stop.  My husband and I agree that it’s time to talk to a professional.  But he would have done it yesterday and I am frozen with fear.  Fear that I will make the wrong choice.  Fear that I will open up an opportunity for someone to put a label on them.  Fear that if you look for a problem, you will find one.  Fear that there really is a problem and they are receiving consequences for something they can’t control.

What do you do when the traits you love most about your children are causing them to struggle in school?  When the things that are inherent to their little big personalities are not working in a classroom environment?  My job as a mother is to protect the light that is at the center of their being.  To never let it go out despite influences and obstacles that life will send their way.  I adore my 3rd grade worldly dreamer and my 1st grade dancing social butterfly, but I also know that school cannot go on like this.

I am nervous and I’m uninformed.  I’m scared to death that the messages they are hearing about their performance as a student are translating to their feelings about their self-worth and slowly extinguishing their light.

But I do know one thing.  This is the year.  This is the year that we learn how to fix this problem and can only pray that we don’t put their light out while we’re at it.

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Nothing better than baking your way through a problem!  I made these mini apple pies and forgot how amazing they are. Fall is upon us and these are definitely worth your time.  I realize that mini pies can seem daunting, but you can do a lot the day before like making the dough, cutting the circles and even making the filling.  Check out the original recipe I posted a while back:

Mini Apple Pies

And if you are still feeling like this is just too much to attempt, go buy some pie crust and just make the filling.  People will still think they are amazing!

Strawberry Muffin Tin Pies

4 Aug

The Wallpaper Factor

I saw an article recently about a woman who wore a hidden camera to show how many times she received harassment from men in a day.  The article brought back a memory of some advice I received from an elderly woman not too long ago.

Before I go any further, let me be the first to acknowledge that there is an entire spectrum of uninvited harassment that women receive from a basic hello to lewd comments and gestures.  And there is also an entire spectrum of feelings that women exhibit in response to these from indifference to discomfort and many times fear.  AND, since I am putting out all the necessary qualifications I need to in order to go on about my random thoughts, let me also acknowledge that cat calling and harassment can happen to anyone from anyone regardless of gender.  There.

Anyways… I’m not gonna lie, I don’t mind the basic, non-threatening holler or comment from random strangers.  I find them to be a mini-self esteem boost and actually appreciate someone taking notice.  I realize that the impetus of the comments has absolutely nothing to do with me.  They are just attention seeking behaviors that would be thrown at any woman standing on the sidewalk at that moment.  But since said man took the liberty to extend his holler, glance or compliment, I will take the liberty to interpret it how I want to and decide that yes, I am awesome and I do look hot today.

Several months ago, I was walking to a restaurant with an elderly woman who I admire very much.  She’s a class act and has been at the forefront of some of the major arts and social movements in Cleveland. In 1961,  she was the first woman to walk through the front doors of the oldest social club in Cleveland (est. 1872) that until then had been  exclusively men.  On that walk to the restaurant, I was the recipient of a very loud and animated compliment from a man passing by.  I mentioned to this woman that I was always conflicted on how to respond in these moments.  She stopped walking, looked straight at me and said, “You say thank you.” Continue reading