How to bake a better pie

It happened on Memorial Day. We had a little “get together.” Magically, people came over and we all got together. So that part worked out.

One of our friends brought along a Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, with a tub of Vanilla Ice Cream. I haven’t had either in nearly 40 years, as I gave up sweet treats when I was a teenager.

But every so often, someone will be eating something, and it will look like the most delectable thing on the planet to me. On Monday, it was that pie. It conjured up all sorts of memories for me, is the reason. When I was a little girl, my grandfather Ed used to grow rhubarb along the back fence at their house. They lived in the city, in Dayton, not very far from us. He would tend to his rhubarb every year.

He’d chew on his cigar while he made over those plants. Pulling weeds, watering, if need be. He told me once that rhubarb wasn’t worth a damn until it was baked in pie with strawberries. And a lot sugar. Once those plants grew up to their potential, he’d take a bowl outside and cut what he needed.

Now, from here I am a little sketchy. I think he made the pies. You see, my Grandma was a terrible cook. The worst. At least by the time I rolled around, she had no sensibility when it came to preparing food. The only meal I ever consumed while they were “babysitting” me, was Spaghetti-O’s and Hamburger, with more pepper than you could sneeze at. It had so much pepper — every single time — that I’d have to guzzle down the entire 7-oz bottle of 7-Up (I was always allowed to have one small bottle). Then, I’d go to the sink and get at least two more glasses of water. Or milk.

Getting through a full bowl of Spaghetti-O’s was always a challenge. Like swimming the English Channel, or walking the tightrope over the Niagara Falls. But. I made it every time.

Oh. The Pie. That’s where we were. And, that is why I think my grandpa made it. I don’t thing grandma had it in her. Those Strawberry Rhubarb pies were amazingly delicious. A gift from the Pie Gods. I loved this time of year when we’d have those tasty treats. They also had a cherry tree, and an apple tree. Those pies waned in comparison. The Strawberry Rhubarb was king.

So on Monday, I sat with friends and watched and listened, as they ate their pies, and made yummy noises, pointing their forks at one another, saying things, like, “Oh my god, this is so freaking good.”

Me? I snacked on some braided pretzels and Cheese-Its, when, if you eat them in combination, ratchets up the flavor scale.

The memories, the tastes, the sights and the sounds. Amazingly, they are all there for the taking. For the sampling. For the giving and receiving.

We should notice those little moments and rejoice in them. They make our lives brim with magic, when we do.


“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”
― Jonathan Lockwood Huie


“There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere, and leaving it behind them when they go.”
― Frederick William Faber


“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”
― Oscar Wilde