July 8th, 2013

A Summer Berry Pie from the heart

OneHungryMama summer berry pie

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.

OneHungryMama summer berry pie

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!

10 Responses

  1. Ashley says:

    Summer time and berry pie are a match made in heaven!
    Best wishes and warm thoughts for you, your family, and the hungry baby.

  2. Darcy B says:

    I hope everything gets sorted out quickly, it’s frightening to watch our little ones deal with things we can’t control. All our love!

  3. Thank you, Ashley. I so appreciate it! And, Darcy, nice to see you here. Thank you also. xox

  4. Alli says:

    What a beautiful post, Stacie. Sending positive thoughts and good vibes for your family…

  5. Kate Marquez says:

    You all are on our minds and in our hearts.

  6. DM says:

    I hope all goes well. Have you tried a sleep doctor? After years of severe fatigue, I was finally diagnosed. Had my tonsils out earlier this month. What a difference. It may be a long shot, but I hope this helps.

  7. Love you all too, Kate!

    And, DM, a sleep study is on the docket. The docs are on the fence about it, but apparently his air passage is on the narrow side, so they think it’s worth checking out. I’ve heard that getting tonsils removed can make a big difference for some people, especially little ones. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Stacie, just wanted to send good, soothing thoughts (and thank you for yet another delicious recipe). I’ve been in that waiting place with my kid’s health before, and I know how excruciating it can be. I’m sorry you and your fam have to sit there for a while.

    I think of you often and always smile at the memory of our tiny amount of time together…I hope there will be more soon. My hub’s in NYC often (new job based there) and hopefully I’ll sneak onto the plane with him one of these days.

  9. One Hungry Mama says:

    Asha! So nice to see you here. I think of you, too, and so appreciate your thoughts on this. It’s comforting. And so is the idea that we might see each other sooner rather than later! Come to NYC! It’s calling. xo

  10. Collette says:

    Whenever something crazy happens, my best friend gives me a “poor baby”–not said sarcastically, but said with love and empathy. (If she’s around, she’ll even pat my head.) So to you I say, poor hungry baby. Poor hungry mama.

    Hang in there.

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