Thursday, August 22, 2013


Mom. Put down your phone.

I place it on the floor and throw my hands up.

Bang. You're dead. Now, mom, just snuggle with me in my bed. Please.

No, thanks.

I don't know how to lie down next to a child at night without falling asleep.

Just for a moment. Come on.

Okay, Dash. But please keep me awake. I have so much to do.

Aren't you done writing your book? You're taking forever.

I collapse on the bed. He drags his comforter up to my chin.

Mom. How can I keep you awake?

Ask me questions, Dash.

Why do you put that face powder on in the morning?

To even out my skin tone.

Why do onions make you cry?

They make other people cry too.

Do oysters breathe? Do they have mouths? Do they eat?

Yes. I don't know. Yes.

How many bones are in the body?

I aced my anatomy final at 20.  And then again at 30. 

103 bones.


 Now it's my turn, Dash. I have a question.


Did you like my blackberry pie?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Cool. Because it was my first one. So I was a little nervous about it.

It was deeeeeeelicious.

Oh that's so freaking cool. I thought it was delicious too.

Don't say freaking, mom. It's a bad word.

Did you know that my love for you is so deep that I feel it in the marrow of my bones?

Eww. Mom. God. Yuck. Just stop talking. Close your eyes. You are getting veeeeeererrrryyyy sleeeeeepppppyyyyyy. 

I pull George the stuffed cheetah straight to my chest.



How much do you love me?

Way more than pie.

I startle awake in the middle of the night with a sweaty Dashoctopus glued to my torso, fingers grasping my collar bones, legs wrapped around mine as if he's climbing a tree. I unhook, unwrap, and unstick my creature and roll him over to his skeleton pillow.

I pick my phone up off the floor and Google "how many bones are in the human body?"


I carefully lift Dash's arm up off of his chest and start palpating his hand, looking for all 27 of his six-year-old hand bones.

Mom. What are you doing? Stop. 

I just want you to know that I was wrong. There are 206 bones in the body. Not 103. 

Whatever. Good night. Happy Dreams.
So the pie...

Weaving together the strips of dough on a warm afternoon was a bitch, requiring all kinds of patching, tucking, and faking-it tweaking.

A quarter of the latticed lid fell down into the macerating fruit even before I put it in the oven. It continued to descend into the steamy jam as it cooked.

I pulled it out of the oven and put it back in and pulled it back out put it back in.

I talked to it.

I got down on my knees and then my belly and photographed the scrappy mashup from every angle—splats, leftovers, and all.

This is not your great-grandmother's pie. There were no lessons passed down through hands or tales or stained recipe cards. I made it up.

It was a hot beautiful mess.

printable recipe
serves 6-8
Remember to make your pie dough a few hours or a day ahead.
I used a 9" round pie plate (8" square works great too).
I approached this pie the way I make tarts: not too sweet and a bit undercooked. Taste your berries. If they're tart, add a few extra tablespoons of sugar. The pie will be juicy and runny and messy. It will probably bubble over. And if you want how-tos on latticing your pie, head on over to Simply Recipes or Food52, because I don't know what I'm doing! But it's fun to play. Improvise if you feel like it. I did! It will taste the same.

2 batches pie dough, chilled for at least 2 hours
6 cups blackberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Remove the discs of dough from the fridge and set aside to soften for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, toss together the berries, salt, sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest. Set aside until the juices start to flow. About 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll out one disc of dough to about an inch larger in diameter than your pie plate. With a pizza cutter, a knife, or scissors, cut into 1" strips. Set aside. If it's a hot afternoon, chill until ready to use.

Roll out the other disc of dough to about about an inch larger in diameter than your pie plate. Press into the pie plate, leaving an inch overhang. Fill with the berry mixture. Start latticing with the pre-cut strips. See links above in the recipe intro for details. Visuals really help.  Or wing it like I did: weave the strips together into a lovely quadrant pattern and hope for the best. With your thumb or a fork, crimp the the top lattice pieces down to the lower disc of dough. Trim off excess and freeze scraps for later use.

Whisk together egg and cream. With a pastry brush or a spoon, paint exposed tart dough with the mixture. Sprinkle with with turbinado sugar.

Bake until lattice top is golden brown and fruit is bubbling and starting to soften (about 45 minutes). If the pie starts to brown too quickly on top, turn the temperature down to 375°F and cover with tin foil. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream. It's great cold for breakfast splashed with heavy cream or half and half.


  1. Phyllis, I love how when I read your writing it weaves a magical story in my head. I could see every moment of this post play out like a movie short filled with color, smells, and the sense of touch. Beautiful writing... as usual. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

    1. thank you so much for this description. means so much. and it's the weaving that i love so much to write. so i'm glad it works for you!

  2. Lovely. Every single black berry pie I make is a mess of whatever I felt like that day and every one gets wolfed down. Black & Blue pie we made this week.

  3. Gorgeous pie that I would like to sink my teeth into!

  4. You are very skilled, I will try to do. Surely my husband will be pleased

  5. Pastry. Luckily I'm more patient with my child.
    Beautiful story, P, as always xx

    1. Thanks, Amanda. Sometimes I think I"m more patient with pastry than with my children!

  6. Dude, the mess is the best part. Who needs great-grandma's perfect pies anyway?

  7. That boy is getting big!
    That pie looks SO GOOD!

  8. Going to make this on the weekend with the kids. Im expecting a massive mess but it's all good fun. Thanks for a great recipe. Looks really great.

  9. Snuggling at bedtime is one of the best parts of the day. I look forward to trying to make that delicious looking pie!

  10. Hot sticky mess of 6 year old boy bones...that's my kind of pie!
    How i dread the nightitme snuggle fest, due to the fear that i will awake at 3 am sticky and pasty and cramped and dissapointed that i missed precious alone time with my husband, or my tv, or my book. And then as soon as i get to my bed, i am wide awake and lonely and wondering if i should just crawl back into that tiny twin bed and get that full body entwinement back. (and could i do it without waking him?) it never works...but i feel your pain, sister.

  11. Look, who cares about the mess. I have two small kids who think the mess is the best fun. Maybe it is. Looks like an amazing recipe.

  12. "hot beautiful (and im sure ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!) mess"

    1. dash always says that mess is important. i agree.

  13. More mess the better I say! Great looking pie I must say. Big dollop of cream and I'd perhaps eat all of it. Looks amazing.

  14. The weaving of the dough looks hard to do and it is evident it gave you a hard time. The end result looks delicious and catchy.

  15. This looks authentic, beautiful and absolutely scrumptious. I want a piece!

    1. thank you, laura. i really loved it. something very moving about making something for the first time.

  16. I love this post. I love all of your posts, but I really love this one. Berries, pie and snuggles- can't get any better than these 3 things!

  17. . I really enjoy reading them to learn something better for preparing. Thanks for sharing Porcelain Veneers

  18. absolutely enjoying every little bit of this great post. It is a great blog post Dental Implants

  19. Hello, I have 3 oldest is 4 years old. Sometimes..things get ugly..Your blog is makes me want to cook more, hug my kids more, take more pictures..just enjoy every moment...cant wait for your book. Cheers.