A Pie Makes Me Feel Special – Part One

When someone makes a pie for me it makes me feel very happy. Pies are special and they tend to make the pie’s recipients feel special. At the same time most of the good cooks I know, with a couple of exceptions, think making a pie is a very difficult thing to do. I’d love to change this phenomenon. I’d like to encourage you to give pies a chance.

My eldest daughter, Candice, is the champion pie baker in our family. She actually thinks they’re easy! She’s on a roll this summer with both her pies and fresh fruit. (She also lovrs to make jam.) Candice is a regular customer at an amazing “pick-your-own-fruit-and-veggie-farm” on the outskirts of Portland. Berries are doing very well this year in her area (Oregon) and she has made several berry pies.

Candice gave me permission to share a couple of her recipes with you. I want you to see how easy it is to make a beautiful pie like the one below. Next week I’ll share with you her latest Blackberry Pie.

Before we get to the pie recipe, let’s talk about pie crust. There are a number of good pie-dough recipes. I have my own favorite and Candice has a couple of favorites. We’ll also share those with you in a future post. For right now, if you don’t have your own favorite recipe for pie dough, I’m going to suggest something that may shock you: Buy a ready-made pastry at the grocery store! Shocking, I know, but bear with me. Home-made is usually the best, but even a stalwart cooking establishment such as Cook’s Illustrated/Test Kitchens say that Pillsbury’s Pie Crust (in the refrigerated section of your local grocery) is an excellent pie crust. So, for the pie below, use your own crust or Pillsbury’s.

For her family’/s 4th of July celebration Candice created this beautiful
Mixed Berry Pie.

Mixed Berry PieIngredients:

  • 2 pie crusts – one for the bottom and one for cutting out the stars for the top
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar *see notes below
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups mixed berries *see notes below
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light cream or half and half
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons coarse sugar (if you have it) or regular sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Place one pie crust in the bottom of a pie dish. Trim and crimp the edges.
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix together the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon, if using. The sugar measurements really depend on how sweet your berries are, and how sweet you like your pie. I try to go for less sugar to maximize the tart fruit taste, and as an excuse to add whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream when the pie is done!
  4. Carefully add the berries. I’ve used a mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in whatever ratios I had available. Be sure to carefully add the raspberries last, if using. Raspberries can be quite delicate and may end up crushed into a juice-like form. This, however careful you are, may not be entirely avoidable!
  5. Pour the berry mixture on top of your pie crust.
  6. Lay out the second pie crust on a clean surface with a little flour underneath it to keep it from sticking. Use a small star cookie cutter to cut out the shape of stars. Place the stars on top of the berry mixture in whatever creative mode feels right to you. Lightly brush the stars with light cream or half and half. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (I used Demerara Sugar that I found in the bulk section of Whole Foods.) If I don’t have any of that, I have used regular granulated sugar.
  7. Bake the pie in the oven for 45-55 minutes. The pie will likely bubble over, so add a pan to catch the spills on the rack below the pie.
  8. Let the pie cool slightly or completely before serving. It’s great by itself or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

*Note on spices: Feel free to use whatever spices you like most with your fruit pie, or use nothing at all. This can be reason enough to bake extra pies.


This post is linked with other food related posts at Weekend Cooking.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Posted in Food Talk, Weekend Cooking | 12 Comments

Book Review: The Obsession

ObsessionTwo days before her twelfth birthday, Naomi surreptitiously followed her father into the woods behind their house, thinking that maybe he was checking on a bike she was hoping he’d bought her. Instead she learned her father had a much bigger, more horrific secret. She discovered her father had an old root cellar in the forest where he raped, tortured, then murdered young women. When Naomi climbed down into that cellar she found a college coed and other evidence. Naomi helped her escape. They both limped for miles through the woods, into town and to the sheriff.

Naomi’s father was arrested, put on trial and sent to prison. For Naomi, her mother and younger brother, it was the beginning of a nightmare. Thanks to all the media coverage, Naomi’s family became well known and they were stigmatized by the father’s crimes. Finally Naomi’s uncle moved them to New York City to live with him. He helped them change their last name, get the kids back in school and on with their lives.

Naomi never let anyone outside of her family get close. She fell in love with photography and worked hard enough to earn a good living with it. In her mid-twenties Naomi began traveling around the US photographing as she went. This she did for years until she happened upon a beautiful small town along the Pacific coast in Washington state. An old empty house on a bluff seemed to call to her. Naomi bought it with the idea of fixing it up for possible resale.

Gradually, Naomi made friends, including Xander, a man who could become more than a friend. But, just as she was settling in the body of a young woman was dumped on the beach near Naomi’s house. When she discovers the young woman, she sees the similarities in the way the young woman was killed and the methods used by her father. Immediately, Naomi was afraid on multiple levels. Young women in this new community she was learning to love were at risk, including herself. The whole community might find out who she really was and the nightmare might start all over again. Should she abandon her house and new friends hit the road? Is her father still in prison? What should she do?

I, of course, loved this story. It was a 14 hour audio book and I could not stop listening to it—all in one day. I was torn between not wanting it to end and wanting to get to the end so I could find out what happened. Overall it was a perfect summer read. I really felt for the young Naomi and understood the older Naomi too. I got completely caught up in the remodel of Naomi’s house and loved reading about the various pieces of furniture she was going to have refinished. I even loved the stray dog she took in but couldn’t name. Of course it goes without saying that I loved Xander and Naomi’s younger brother.

I strongly recommend The Obsession to all lovers of romantic suspense and especially to my youngest daughter, Cerrin, a fellow Nora Roberts fan. Read this one Cerrin.

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Wondrous Words #359

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I found two new words in my reaing this past week. The first one came while reading Heart Earth by Ivan Doig:

resonance: “Out of that unexpected narrative of hers comes this saga-within-a-family-saga, of an indelible young woman and the resonances of heart and earth.”

Resounce is the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.


This second word came from A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie.

benignant: She was far more benignant than he had imagined and a good deal older.

Benignant (bəˈniɡnənt) is an adjective which means kindly and benevolent.


That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Obsession by Nora Roberts

I love the  pure pleasure of reading a romantic suspense novel that only Nora Roberts can create. The Obsession is her newest one. Here’s how it begins:


August 29, 1998

     She didn’t know what woke her, and no matter how many times she relived that night, no matter where the nightmare chased her, she never would.

     Summer turned the air into a wet simmering stew, one smelling of sweat and drenching green. The humming fan on her dresser stirred it, but it was like sleeping in the steam pumping off the pot.


What do you think?

Would you keep reading?


firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.


Posted in First Paragraph | 10 Comments