Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A peanut butter pie for Mikey

Peanut butter pie with Reese's Pieces for Mikey by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

This may not be one of the prettiest pies I’ve ever made, but it may be one of the most important. This Peanut Butter Pie is for Mikey and all those little “I’ll do it tomorrow’s” I say to my family as I try to get done just what I need to get done today.

I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime after “I do” and “It’s a girl!” and “Honey, it’s another girl!” I became a big believer in tomorrow. Today was for whittling down the to-do list. Get up, get breakfast, get out the door, pick up, drive home, finish homework. Cook. Eat. Clean. Launder. Way too much laundry. Tomorrow was for baking cakes, making milkshakes, splashing in the rain and making mud pies.

But, guess what? We don’t always have tomorrow. I was reminded of this recently by a woman whom I’ve never met, Jennifer Perillo, who is a recipe developer and blogger at In Jennie’s Kitchen. She lost her husband suddenly last week when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He left behind Jennie and their two young daughters. Last Monday, I checked in on Twitter and began reading the emotional words and shreds of news about the sudden end to this beloved father and husband’s life.

Blogging’s a funny thing. You can keep your audience at a distance, posting words and pictures, just pretending that every day is the same in a magical land that’s untouched by unemployment, illness, loss. Or you can open up the doors and windows and let the world see what life is all about. That’s what Jennifer chose to do, posting “ One Last Dance” the day after her husband passed away. The home video of her husband dancing with her little girl just about breaks my heart to watch. It’s someone’s husband. It’s a little girl’s daddy.

Back to tomorrows: On the day of Mikey’s memorial service, Jennie asked for fellow bloggers to bake her husband’s favorite pie, a luscious chocolate and peanut butter cream pie. She said she’d been meaning to bake it for him for awhile, but kept putting it off to "tomorrow." Jennie asked that readers bake the pie for the Mikeys in their lives, the family and friends that we nourish.

I could have put off making the pie – I didn't have all of the ingredients and I really didn't want to go to the store. I did have the cream and the peanut butter. I didn’t have chocolate wafers, but remembered that I had a pre-made chocolate crust. I didn’t have peanuts, but for some reason had a bag of Reese’s Pieces, the mini-me version of nature's most perfect food, the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I was also out of dark chocolate. But a pie could be pulled together out of what I had on hand, so I asked Lindsey, who is five, to help and together we made our version of Mikey’s Peanut Butter Pie.

We began by melting white chocolate with a bit of vegetable oil and spreading it in the chocolate cookie crumb pie shell. A generous handful (or two) of Reese's Pieces were sprinkled over the chocolate. In a separate bowl, we whipped together cream cheese, peanut butter and a can of Eagle Brand. We poured the filling into the pie shell and decorated the top of the pie with more Reese's Pieces. The pie went into the fridge to set up for a few hours.

Clockwise from top left: melting chocolate, spreading it in the pie shell, folding in the cream, whipping the filling.
Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Little Bit is always willing to help mix. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Watching my little one in the kitchen, I'm amazed at how "in the moment" she is. No worries about school or friends or family. No thoughts for the future beyond whether she can have some Reese's Pieces and be able to lick the white chocolate off the spatula.

But sometimes, she surprises me. While she places the candies on the top of the filling, she starts talking about change.
"I'm almost six! Everything changes when you're six. I'm going to kindergarten, that's a

change. And summer's almost over, that's a change."

"That's right, sweetie."

I want to stop the time clock and freeze this frame forever.

Go to In Jennie's Kitchen and check out her recipe for Creamy Peanut Butter Pie. I'm not including the recipe here because I really tinkered with it - her original is a beautiful pie, mine was kind of cobbled together. I used a pre-made crust and reduced the sugar in the filling. I substituted Reese's Pieces for the peanuts and used more of the candy as a garnish instead of a chocolate drizzle. If you have a few minutes, take some time and read Jennifer's words and look at the pictures of her beautiful family.

Jennifer, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this sad time. Thank you for sharing Mike's life and your family moments - they are treasures.

The perks of hanging out in the kitchen with Mom. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


LaPhemmePhoodie said...

Very sweet. I love the look on your daughter's face in the last pic. So focused. She's precious.

Kate@Diethood said...

Beautiful tribute!

Denise @ Creative Kitchen said...

Love your tribute and your pie! Picked up ingredients for my pie last night & almost grabbed the reeses. Picked up butterfingers instead since they are my hubby's very favorite!

Your little girl is beautiful!

Denise @ Creative Kitchen

Anonymous said...

This post brought back so many memories from my past. A best friend's husband (a man we all loved and admired) died of a heart attack at 38, leaving behind two babies. Those babies are now -- tomorrow! -- entering high school. He loved to eat and was a regular at my table, never declaring a favorite meal or dish because they were all his favorite. I wish I had one in particular to prepare in his memory...

Your Lil Bit's expression as she participates are what any father would want to see. Curiosity and joy, the light when you're in the moment. The result is a beautiful pie, but much much more than that.