Blackberry custard pie

Okay. Let’s take some deep breaths and do a little self-soothing, shall we? The little girl is going to kindergarten, which means I get to reclaim the days when I did crap like this:


Yeeeeees. Remember when you used to do fancy pie crust, Kat? You’re going right back to that sort of thing now, aren’t you?


Anyway, blackberry rough & ready pie isn’t supposed to have a top crust, which I was told shortly after I posted that blog entry waybackwhen. So I stopped making them with top crusts. And since we moved to The Brambles, I am making them with our own blackberries, and dang, the berries are plentiful. So if you are visiting The Brambles and I say you’re getting pie, assume it’s this.

Preheat your oven to 425F.

My pie crust recipe is an old family secret. I’m going to let you in on it, just because I love you so much and we’re so extra-special cool with each other, but don’t tell anyone else, kay? This is passed down from my mother.

It’s called Pillsbury roll-out crusts. Yes, really. No, I don’t want your super-easy recipe for homemade rollout nightmare. I like my crusts.

Let one crust sit on your counter for an hour to thaw, roll it out slightly, and flour the side that will go down in your pie plate.

This recipe is for deep dish pie plates, by the way. Mine are the fancy fluted ones by Emile Henry. If you don’t feel like coughing up for one, you might try a round casserole dish.

Stop. Custard time. One cup sugar, one cup heavy cream, one half cup AP flour, and a pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside.

Now. The berries. Handling blackberries in a pie requires some finesse. Specifically, you need to de-juicify them. If you hate yourself and have precious ideas about preserving flavor, feel free to cook them down on the stovetop. If, like me, you have more important things to worry about, just put them in a colander and smoosh them. Juice will run down the drain, but honestly, the human tongue can only handle so much blackberry flavor, and the berries will still have more than that.

Smooshed berries go into your prepared crust. I used too many, here–the pie ran over in the oven. Try four cups, smooshed volume. They should come up to between one-half and two-thirds the height of your crust. Remember we need room for custard, too.

On goes the custard. Whoops, didn’t get all the flour mixed in. That was when Mimi trotted in to announce that I was going to play with her. Is that so, tootsie?

At this point, pop the pie in the oven with a cookie sheet beneath it, in case four cups of smooshed berries was still too many. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 for another hour. After that, you get this, except yours didn’t run over:


Which I’ll say is a fair return on your investment of time, and might even have been worth the hour of letting a five-year-old give you a makeover while it baked.

This is good with ice cream.

Then came the day


Five and a half years ago, she was born. I was bad at pregnancy. I was bad at giving birth. In the end she was born via emergency c-section while I was under general anesthesia. Breastfeeding didn’t work out. Lots of people–not everyone, but lots of people–said I was doing it wrong. But I was her mother, and I was the person who cared about her the most, so even when I did it wrong, I was paying attention.

I didn’t know how it would be. Unless you grew up with younger siblings, so much younger that you were given some responsibility for them, you don’t know. Not with the first one. It all blindsides you. You’re swimming along, happily the center of your own personal universe, and then bam. You aren’t.

It was hard for me. I wasn’t good at being pregnant, the way I thought I’d be. I wasn’t good at giving birth or breastfeeding. But I tried my hardest for this little girl. Every mom knows how it is: no eating, sleeping, bathing, or eliminating of your own is more important than the baby’s tiniest whim. You forget yourself. For years, you are no one but the one who takes care of that child.

“Kindergarten,” I said early on. “Some day she’ll go to kindergarten, and I can be myself again.”

A couple weeks ago, I bought Mimi’s kindergarten supplies. It wasn’t the way I’d thought it would be, because what is? Nope, I had gone to Wal-Mart for a prescription, but the pharmacy was closed for lunch and the school supply lists were right there, so I snatched it all up in a rushed moment of irritation.

How many things that were supposed to be sacred end up happening in a rushed moment of irritation?

So here it comes. We’re having our last couple weeks of Mimi Before Kindergarten. Our last couple weeks of desperately going somewhere, ANYWHERE, to make the morning pass. Our last couple weeks of me being the person she spends most of her time with. Our last couple weeks when I’m always there to roar into place–in theory, at least–when the world doesn’t treat her the way it should.

I’ve looked forward to it for five and a half years, and now, I am losing my shit. Requesting a bus stop in front of our house. Deciding to pick her up after school, because the bus ride is too long to do twice a day. Requesting a school change to make that drive shorter–getting irritated because the other school has uniforms, so she won’t be able to express her precious snowflake self–getting denied for the school change, and having mixed feelings about it. Stalking her teacher on Facebook. Trying to get her vaccination records together. Trying to figure out how the HELL to get a doctor to see her, with the state health insurance. Crying at midnight because I was afraid of the bus in kindergarten, and what if she’s afraid, too?

And at the same time, wondering how I’ll survive these last couple weeks of being Not Myself, and more importantly, how I’ll survive what comes after them. Because holy cow. I’ve been Not Myself for five and a half years. I’m not sure anymore how to go about being anyone else.


It’s day 3 of 90+ temperatures and I want to die. Don’t laugh, everyone who lives everywhere else in the country: we here in the PacNW don’t have air conditioning, precisely because it’s only like this for, like, three days a year. And during those three days, we whine. Verily, we whine.

It’s always cooler by the water. The trick is finding the will to get yourself there.


Can you see Mount Baker? Mount Baker’s in this one.



Can you see Mount Baker in this one???

Oh, well. Here’s some cool driftwood.


Oh. Um. Gee. Seven natural shades plus red?

I’ll be in my bunk.

(I filled out my spectrum of natural, undyed shades of Elemental Affects’ Shetland Fingering by making an order from Feral Knitter. Why did this museum-worthiness have to arrive on the hottest day of the year? Why???)







… and there’s another bit of this summer in the books. “What,” we asked ourselves, “do we do for a quick getaway when we already live in a place people get away to?”

The answer was to rent a house on the beach for a couple nights. The Brambles is a nice setting, but it isn’t on the water. So off we went.






Hmm. So that ladder + rope is the beach access, you say? Hmm. Hmmmmmm. Maybe we’ll just sit on the lawn and drink cab sav, tonight …



Morning. Foghorns and seagulls. The Pacific Northwest is at its best in a good, solid fog.






Oh, look. There is sand all around the rock now. Much better. Let’s try it.

Summering out

Turns out it isn’t the weather: it’s me. It just doesn’t take much sun and heat to make me say “yep, that was summer, is it fall yet?” Even here in the Pacific Northwest, where a real scorcher is 85F and the average is more like 75F, I am being a party pooper spoilsport and looking forward to the dark, rainy winter.

At least it isn’t the abject misery of the Midwestern summer. At least we aren’t trapped in the house. But, as I said, I am apparently capable of complaining about summer no matter how mild it is.

It’s been a beautiful one, though. We’ve packed a lot in. Life is very, very sweet.