Some days just require pie.
Think about it a minute. I bet you can think of a day or two this year that could have been enhanced by a warm piece of blueberry pie.
Every day over the last month, with the exception of maybe two, I leave work at the end of the day to visit my dad in the rehabilitation center. My mom visits him in the morning or early afternoon, and I visit in the evenings. I sit with him in the rehab cafeteria or in his tiny, shared room, or I wheel him outside in his wheelchair so he can get fresh air and sunlight. Mostly I just keep him company. I’ve tried to stay out of the medical aspects, but it hasn’t worked. So, sometimes I question the staff about his medications, and occasionally I make polite suggestions for changes that I think should be made. Some days he’s encouraged by his progress, and other days he gets depressed. And, without fail, he tells me how much his grandchildren mean to him. That is his goal – to get well enough to spend time with his grandchildren again.
There have been more than a few days that could have been improved by a slice of comforting pie.
So many of you have asked about my dad – and about me and my mother – and for that I am touched. My mom and I (and my brother, too) have spent the last month learning how to care for and interact with a loved one with a brain injury. We’ve had some interesting experiences – and some heartbreaking ones – but mostly, we’ve learned how strong we can be during times of family crisis. My dad is supposed to go home from rehab later this week, and we (my mom, especially) will be faced with a new set of challenges.
But we can handle challenges. After this last month, I’m sure we can handle whatever is thrown our way.
So, let’s have that piece of pie, shall we?
Remember those Chilean blueberries I was suckered into buying? They were the star of the show in this blueberry pie that I made recently. My son, a devoted blueberry fan, requested a blueberry pie one weekend. Since I love him, and since I am not one to say no to making a dessert, I made a pie for him. Well, and for me too.
For this pie, I used my all-butter pie crust dough recipe, but you could easily use a package of refrigerated, rolled pie crust if you like. I chose to make a lattice crust, but you don’t have to. [I've included a couple of links at the bottom of the post, below the recipe, that give great guidance on making a lattice crust.] I think lattice crusts are beautiful. Plus, I get to eat the extra pieces of raw dough after I cut all those strips.
As you can see from the photos, I didn’t wait for the pie to cool off completely before cutting a slice. If you’re impatient like me, you’ll get a warm, juicy piece of pie, with plump blueberries oozing out onto your plate. If you have patience and can wait until the pie cools completely, it will set up more and your slice of pie will be prettier than mine.
Regardless, it will be a wonderful piece of pie. And you will thank me.
For more on making a lattice crust:
Yield: Serves 8-10.
You can use refrigerated pie crust instead of making your own, but be sure to use the roll-and-fill kind. If you choose not to do a lattice top, be sure to cut decorative holes in the top crust using a cookie cutter, or at least cut some vents in the top crust.
1 cup packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 cups fresh blueberries or 3 (10 ounce) packages frozen blueberries (not thawed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pasty dough for a double-crust pie, such as this recipe (or 1 package of refrigerated, rolled pie crust dough)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Put a large baking sheet on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 425°F.
Whisk together brown sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, and allspice, and toss with blueberries and lemon juice in a large bowl. Set aside.
Roll out one piece of dough, keeping remaining piece chilled, on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out dough for pie crust.
Roll out remaining dough on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin. Using a ruler to measure, cut 1-inch strips out of the dough. Re-roll the dough and re-cut into 1-inch strips wiht any remaining dough. Chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Spoon filling with any accumulated juices into shell, dot with butter pieces, and layer with the top crust pieces, weaving into a lattice formation (tips below). Trim any overhanging crust to a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold top crust overhang under bottom pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge, then crimp decoratively, using your fingers or the tines of a fork.
Bake pie on hot baking sheet in oven for 30 minutes, then cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil to prevent overbrowning. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes more. Cool pie completely on a rack, about 4 hours.
Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet, August 2006.