July 8th, 2013
I was quiet here last week. Maybe you noticed. Maybe you thought it was because of the holiday weekend. Really, though, it had nothing to do with fireworks or independence. Just a hard week that left me feeling knocked over.
It all started two Thursdays ago. The hungry baby woke up tired and cranky. He couldn’t shake it but, hey, we all feel that way sometimes. It didn’t strike me as out of the ordinary until his fatigue—and accompanying aggression and pants wetting regression—persisted into Friday. Then Saturday. And Sunday. By Monday we hit the pediatrician’s office.
Some of you who have been following along may know that in January 2012, the hungry baby and, we, his tired parents, emerged from a 10 month collapse down a medical rabbit hole.
It began with signs of intense fatigue at 18-months-old and went on to include an Epstein Barr diagnosis, two sudden onset limps (both painless, thankfully), highly elevated alkaline phosphatase (look it up if you care, but abnormal blood work is the point), an orthopedist, rheumotologist, endocrinologist and lots and lots of blood work and doctor appointments. The climax of our ordeal was set at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital for Children where we were sent to rule out a bone tumor.
It sounds horrible—and it was, truly—but at the end of it all the hungry baby came out clear. His pediatrician likes to say that the hungry baby had the “million dollar workup” and all the while he continued to grow and thrive. Having ruled out every pathology that the docs could think of, his oncologist and pediatrician came up with a feasible explanation—a series of innocuous coincidences—and that was that.
Until last week.
It’s been a year and a half since the hungry baby has shown signs of major fatigue. He’s a tired kid, but nothing alarming, just the residual effect of the Epstein Barr, or so we’ve figured. The fatigue that kicked in two Thursday’s ago was different, though. Alarming even. So we started down the path again, this time hoping we know enough to keep from falling down another rabbit hole. Test results for six (SIX!) viles of blood are due early this week, so we’ll see.
I should say—for you and mostly for me—that something totally innocuous might be at play, but not knowing is hard. Not knowing and waiting are pretty much the two things I’m least equipped to deal with and here I am, in the thick of both with my child’s health on the line.
With all this in the
background foreground, I spent most of last week feeling hyper stressed and on edge. Trying to coordinate doctors on the eve of a long holiday weekend did not help. After a horrible Monday and Tuesday, I decided that I had to find a way to channel my electric nervous energy. It was getting to everyone and doing nobody any good. So on Wednesday I called the boys into the kitchen to help me make a summer berry pie. It was just what the doctor ordered. Well, so to speak.
There was something anchoring about being in the kitchen with my two boys, hulling strawberries and rolling dough. A calm washed over me as my hands went into auto pilot hulling strawberry after strawberry. I laughed for the first time in two days as the boys rolled dough into useless shapes and nibbled more than they worked. I was in the moment and realized that I had to find a way to stay there to get through this. That’s why I wasn’t here writing and sharing recipes. That’s why I (mostly!) managed to put it away and enjoy a long weekend with my boys and good friends.
I hope you were able to do the same. If not, here’s a pie to make. Call the kids into the kitchen—or chase everyone out of it—and wash, pluck, stir, roll and bake your way to some peace.
Life gets hard and sometimes only pie can help.
Summer Berry Pie
(Can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
Makes one 9″ double crust pie
6 cups fresh mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 batch simple, perfect pie dough
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and trim berries. Cut larger berries in half or quarters, depending on size, to make all of the fruit approximately evenly sized. Place in a large bowl and add sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, carefully fold the berries to coat evenly without breaking them up too much. Set aside.
2. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one of the two disks of chilled pie dough into a 13? round with even thickness throughout, turning, flipping and lightly flouring the dough as necessary as you go. Carefully fold dough in half and then in half again in order to transfer it to a 9? pie plate. Place the point of the folded dough in the center of the pie plate and unfold, gently easing the dough into the pie plate and up the sides. Trim excess with kitchen shears or a paring knife. Add the filling and place in the refrigerator while you repeat the rolling out process with the second disk of dough.
3. When the second disk of dough is rolled out, remove the pie dish from the refrigerator and place the top crust over the filling. Pinch around the edges to create a crust, trimming excess overhang with a paring knife or scissors. Carefully cut a few slits around the top to allow the pie to vent. (Alternatively, use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the rolled out second disk and place the shapes on top of filling instead of a full crust; see photos above. Make sure to use enough shapes to cover a good amount of the berries.)
3. Place pie in preheated oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 30-40 minutes before serving (with fresh whipped cream, if you’re smart!).
*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger eaters, I recommend this beginning at 10+ months due to the relatively high sugar content. No matter how old your eaters, be sure to serve age appropriate portions. A little of this sweet treat goes a long way with little ones!