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Aug 10, 2012
All-American Story of A Favorite Summer Pie
Making a mixed berry pie is more than a labor of love in the kitchen for this metro Detroit mom. It's a family affair that holds fond memories.
My favorite recent summer memory is of making a pie. A mixed berry pie, to be precise. You see, it is not an ordinary pie that you can get in a local grocery store – or even quickly assemble with a frozen crust. Oh no! A true pie is a family affair, an event – and even, as you will see, a treasured memory.
The story of my special pie begins with our annual summer trip up north. The weekend before the Fourth of July, we loaded our stuff, our two kids –boys ages 2 and 5 – and ourselves, and drove for almost four hours to get to the beautiful town of Beulah near Crystal Lake. As someone who came to this country 10 years ago, my earliest memories of America have been closely connected with this lovely place in northern Michigan. And since I recently became a U.S. citizen, traveling to this small-town America destination over the Fourth of July holiday now holds a very distinct meaning for me.
Discovering delicious American pies was an experience in itself. What is a holiday without a pie! Apple, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, mixed-berry, cherry – they are all delicious in their unique, sweet ways. But never did I attempt before to make one from scratch, instead often relying on my mother- and sister-in-law to supply us with their authentic fruit pies for all family gatherings.
Our berry-picking day started early. Dressed in dark colors to prevent stains – and with two kids in tow, covered in sunscreen – we embarked on our adventure. While driving for about 15 minutes from the cottage to the berry farm, we were teaching our young sons about growing and picking berries and what a special experience it was going to be for us. The abundance and variety of berries pleasantly surprised us. And considering, it was early July, we were thrilled to discover some hidden ripe strawberries that our kids almost instantly devoured, unwashed, right on the spot. While our 5-year-old did manage to collect some berries, our toddler mostly enjoyed eating the berries right off the bush and sitting on the farm owner's small John Deere tractor loudly singing his version of "Old MacDonald."
The pie making started shortly after we got home – tired, sweaty, dusty, but thoroughly satisfied with our berry-picking adventure, and bearing a big batch of fresh, juicy berries. The berries were washed and sorted (and some of them eaten). Several sticks of butter were blended with flour and ice-cold water for the scrumptious crust. I then discovered that we didn't have any rolling pin to roll the dough! My mother-in-law quickly retrieved an old wine bottle from their recycle bin, washed it and gave it to me, instead of a pin. It worked just fine. Then the pie was assembled, baked to golden perfection and placed on the counter to cool.
In the evening, after we took a refreshing boat ride on the crystal-clear lake and enjoyed our wonderful up-north dinner, we all sat down for a dessert. We each got a heaping bowl of the fragrant-smelling berry pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A perfect, all-American ending to our brilliant summer day up north – a day of blue skies, sweet berries and beloved memories.