Two items first of all – one a correction, and one a holiday reminder. First, I need to correct an arcane, but incorrect piece of useless information that I shared yesterday. Upon further research, I have discovered that the plane that crashed carrying Buddy Holly and others in a field near Clear Lake Iowa was NOT named “American Pie.” I should have realized that very few planes actually are named, and especially little prop Beechcraft planes. So, I apologize for leading you astray, and for not fact-checking the information first. It sounded good, but of course so do some menu items you find in a restaurant, only to discover you made a mistake…
The holiday reminder IS true, and an important fact of our history. On this very day in 1966, 55 years ago… Star Trek aired for the first time on NBC. There were only a total of 79 episodes, airing until June 1969, but it caught the imagination of an entire generation of “space crazy” Americans, and secured itself in the history of the small screen.
But I am here today to talk about something far more important, and interesting than even either of the two above events. I’m talking pie – apple pie. You see, I can guess that right now, you are probably thinking, “Wow – I haven’t had a good piece of apple pie, at least today!” Now, I love a significant variety of pies, from cherry, to pecan, to lemon meringue, to even pumpkin. Around our house, however, the “pie season” usually finds two strong holidays in the 4th of July, and Thanksgiving. For some reason, however, Cheri decided on Labor Day, mid-afternoon, that she needed/wanted to bake an apple pie. Did she have any apples? No. Did she have any cinnamon? No again, but she did have a husband who was willing to drive her to the store, and wait for her to get said items. What a nice guy he is!
So, she began the pie. Now, I’m pretty much the cook in the house, especially when it comes to breakfast or supper. It’s not that I can’t bake, but I prefer to leave that in Cheri’s hands, since she enjoys it, and I really don’t. Oh, I usually do the birthday cakes, and on Cheri’s birthday, she always wants a coffee cake, so I have learned to make those, and actually have it come out right. But run-of-the-mill baking, like bread or rolls or muffins or especially pies is a type of activity that I try to keep my hands out of, and let her do. After 40 years, it’s worked out pretty well.
Let me say first of all that she didn’t cut her finger while peeling and slicing up the apples. As I sat in the dining room, looking at the news online, I did hear continual comments, and “ows” and such, but when all was said and done, the apples were the right color and looked pretty pristine, so that was a relief. Actually, I never realized how noisy my beloved is while she’s baking. Let’s say she does not internalize much of any of the steps. How’s the crust rolling out? You don’t have to ask – she announces it. Did she turn on the oven yet to preheat? Oh nuts – she forgot…
Finally, the pie went in the oven, nice and round, and the entire family waited upon its conclusion. After letting it cook/bake for a bit over the time, to make sure the top was a right color of brown, I was there to watch the “pulling out of the pie” from the oven. Now, about three years ago, our oven decided to die on us, giving us the wonderful opportunity to invest in a new one. The new one is a rather slick machine, and even has the top rack which you can gently pull, and it will slide out on ball bearings, which allows you to remove whatever you are cooking with the greatest of ease.
Cheri has yet to either discover that, or to utilize it. Time after time, I’ve gently tried to remind her that she doesn’t have to do a clean and jerk of the item in the oven like it was a set of Olympic barbells. Instead, one can gently slide the rack out, and simply lift the pie, sitting on top of a lipped cookie sheet and place it on the counter to cool. I was there, however, when I watched everything, almost is slow-motion. Cheri did NOT pull out the rack, but instead pulled out the underlying cookie sheet halfway, with the pie sitting unsecured on top. At the halfway point, something seemed to be heavier than it should, and the cookie sheet tipped onto the open door – please remember that every thing at this point is very hot. Not wanting the pie to go crashing into the bottom of the oven, Cheri reached to stop its fall. Now, I know I didn’t scream or shriek, but all I could say, in a rather loud voice was the same thing I used to say to one of the boys when they went to grab something that was steaming – all I could yell was, “HOT! HOT!”
Have you ever had someone give you “the look,” when all you were trying to do was help direct the action? Cheri quietly answered, “I know what I am doing…” Like standing in the tiger’s cage, trying to grab the slab of meat sitting right in front of the tiger’s paws, I realized I had stepped a bit too close to danger, and backed off, simply saying, “You’re in charge…”
Still not sliding the rack out, she managed to right the cookie sheet, and lift it up (like a clean and jerk…) onto the counter with the hot pads. Through it all, there was only one part of the edge that took the impact, but this wasn’t going to the state fair – it was going into the mouths and stomachs of the men of the house. For some reason, Cheri rarely has a piece of pie herself…
Adam managed to get a small piece of pie later that evening, but Aaron and I sort of forgot about it – so much for a Labor Day treat. However, at yesterday lunch, I remembered the pie, and it seemed like a good opportunity to enjoy a slice. As I was cutting it – it really looked like a great piece of pie – I recalled that on the top shelf of the refrigerator, halfway in the back, behind the pickle relish and strawberry jam, there was a squeeze bottle of caramel syrup. Oooh. Yes I did. And it was delicious.
The boys followed suit, bringing the pie down to half its original size. After a supper consisting of my gourmet hamburgers, The pie signal went off in their heads again, and they once again scavenged and caramelled and snarfed down another two pieces.
After Cheri went to bed at 9pm, deep within my soul came the whispering that I too needed to have another piece. I obeyed, and slathered it again with caramel syrup, and carried it downstairs to enjoy in front of the television program. Somehow, someway, as I sat down in my chair, Hermes, our tawny cat, got a sniff of the captured pie. Now, some of you may have dogs that unfortunately learn how to beg for food that is not their normal dog food. They want a piece, a bite, a bit, some sort of morsel that they believe they have been a dog good enough to receive. We don’t have a dog, but I would put Hermes up against any canine in the “begging for people food” department. He loves popcorn, anything with butter on it, Doritos nacho cheese chips, tuna (of course) and most anything else. What he goes bonkers over, however, is anything that has a malt flavor or aroma. Just goes nuts. What I discovered last night, however, was that our dog/cat also goes crazy over the smell of apple pie, with some caramel syrup on top.
From the moment I sat down, two cat eyes locked in and froze on my plate, like infrared radar. He sat at my feet. I told him, no – this was not cat food and to go lie down. He put a paw on my knee, never releasing the stare. I told him again – No! This is not for you! At one point, I thought he might try to crawl up behind me and snag something, like a sniper on a roof. I have never had to eat a piece of pie so quickly in all my life! You know, when it’s dessert, that it’s nice to linger and enjoy the taste? This was a Tuesday Night Woof-down, with two green eyes staring at me for the complete inhaling of the pie piece. Sheesh. Of course, when it was all over, Hermes broke the stare, and went over and curled up on one of the sons’ laps, as if this battle was over.
So, I guess the pie was a success… after about 42 hours on this earth, there is small slice left, ready to be consumed, I’m sure before lunch is finished. Cheri was pleasantly surprised, pleased that things went away so quickly. Her goal, I am sure, as she makes all sorts of cookies, brownies, little lemony bars and muffins – and pies – is to make sure, in her heart and mind, that her baby boys (and sometimes her husband) will not starve, or want for any kind of sweet, calorie-laden tasty piece of deliciousness.
Somewhere, in each of our lives, we all have that one thing, that one area, that one activity, that one skill that we enjoy using to make others happy. I really don’t know what that might be for you, but it’s there, waiting for you to make the best of it. What a wonderful thing, to know that God has empowered you to help someone have a happier, or more peaceful, or richer day. What a wonderful thing to know – that not only CAN you do that thing, those things, you are also invited, encouraged, nudged by the God of the Universe to make our world a more joyful and more thankful place to live. Look for what you can offer today, and then take the courage and the opportunity to do something for someone else intentionally, so their own lives are filled with joy. And don’t forget to offer your thanks and appreciation when someone does that for you!
Word for the day: gasconade. Pronounced gas-kuh-NADE. It sounds French, no? In its earliest form, it simply meant, “sounding like a native of Gascony or a Gascon.” Why is that important? Gascony was a province in SW France, populated mostly by the Basques, who were a very proud people, and eager to tell you how wonderful they were. In The Three Musketeers, d’Artagnan was a Gascon, and his character gets into initial trouble as he boasts and talks down to the other Musketeers.
So, to “gasconade” in its sense today goes beyond, “acting like a Gascon,” to be better defined as “confident talk, or behavior that that tries to impress others” – literally a show-off, or boastful braggard. Not your finest compliment when you are referring to another actions or behavior…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.