Monday, September 5, 2016

Raspberries, Mother and Raspberry Pie

Raspberries are my favorite berry, favorite fruit, bar none. And for that, I owe my mother.

My city-to-country transplant parents bought a farm in a small town in the 1950's.  They had little to none hands-on experience adjusting to this gentleman farmer lifestyle. And there wasn't a whole lot of time to devote to it. Dad was a pharmacist, Mom, a schoolteacher, and they had seven kids. Lucky for them the kids were spread out over 20 years, though. Never were all seven kids in the house for long at the same time.

The farm was blessed with several mature fruit trees -- apple, plum, cherry, and pear. But my favorite thing was the raspberry patch. It seemed huge to me as a child, a rectangle I'd guess was roughly 20 by 40 feet. We did not, however, tend to that patch very well. It was overgrown  and weedy. Still, each August we'd have enough berries for a pie or two. We might have had more, but when my mother sent us kids a'picking, we inevitably ate as many as we picked.

My good-natured mother would mildly scold us and then say something like, "Well, at least there's enough for a pie."

And what a pie she made! What made her raspberry pie unique was that it had a sugary crust that separated the fruit from the pastry. It kept the pastry from getting soggy from the fruit juices. She didn't seem to try and make that happen. It just happened. I've never been able to duplicate it, try as I might.

Although I inherited many traits from my mother (her good naturedness -- maybe too good natured -- for one) I didn't get her pie making gene. She could whip up a pie crust effortlessly. I would stand by her and watch and help as I could, but I never got it right.

I've since learned to make a good crust, but not without my food processor, not without my reliance on the Cook's Illustrated Fool Proof recipe.

A few weeks ago, my sister who now lives on the homestead farm with her husband, brought me a couple quarts of beautiful raspberries. Her husband had torn out the old patch and started a new one. It took a few years, but now they have a new, much healthier patch.

I couldn't resist eating many of them fresh -- and naked. But I saved enough for a pie.  Made me think of my mother.

Actually, throughout my cancer treatment, I have frequently thought of my mom, and talked to her.

When I was first diganosed last December, after a bit of a cry and a lot of consolation from Mr. Rosemary, I asked myself, "What would mom say?"

She would say, "Suck it up (maybe not those words), make the best of it, don't pity yourself, everything will be all right in the end."

So that's how I've tried to appraoch this cancer treatment business. My mother's wisdom continues to help me, long after she's gone. I hope my daughter will be able to do the same, and be comforted in times of trouble after I'm gone, just as I have been.

Texting has become an easy and quick way to stay in touch with family and friends -- and keep them informed of my progress.  Once, I included in a text to my raspberry sister that "Mom said everything would be okay."  My quick-witted sister penned back quickly, "Good. I wish she'd call more often."

Although the pie wasn't quite like my mom's, it was delicious.  I think she'd be proud.

Since my mother really couldn't be with me as I made this pie, I relied on The Joy of Cooking" to guide me, another faithful resource.