This morning’s baking adventure took me to a recipe, a flavor and texture, I haven’t experienced for years. Five for sure, because that’s how long Mom’s been gone, three before that because my folks were in assisted living, and probably three or four before that. When Mom declared she’d cook no more.
Her Meyer Lemon Mousse pie. Tangy to make your eyes water, smooth as my new grandson’s bum. Add a flaky crust and little dollop of sweetened whipped cream, a blackberry or blueberry garnish. Heaven. Silky heaven on a plate, served with a tart blink while taking in its beautiful, pale yellow hue.
I loved this pie and Mom would make it for my birthday and sometimes, just because.
It’s not hard to make but it’s a bit of a pain. A dozen juiced lemons. Meyers, of course, a cross between lemon and Mandarin orange. Two kinds of zests. The easy kind for the mousse and long curled threads for garnish.
A double boiler’s involved, constant stirring, an ice plunge and more stirring before folding in whipped cream. Then the pie hits the fridge for a nice little rest.
Not difficult. Not many ingredients. Time consuming. Plenty of clean-up. Doesn’t even include the pie dough flour and fuss.
As I was making it I was also noticing the mess in my wake — which I was okay with. Not normal for one with obsessive-compulsive personality traits. Messes not welcome.
Because it’s for my kids. Coming to dinner tonight. My kids. And after this mess will be the bigger one, fried chicken, followed by the chaos the kids bring. The noisy, loving chaos of diaper bags and baby bottles, crayons and toys, cell phones and keys, sweaters and shoes piled at the front door.
Mom must have felt that way, too. In the rearview mirror I see her standing at the stove stirring, wanting nary a lump to disrupt the velvety perfection of her lemon custard. Because it was for her daughter. She would want it just so. She would want to best her own record pie-baking prowess.
She would have made the pie not for pie prestige or baking kudos, or even a thank you but for my smile and the gleeful words, “Mom, my favorite pie!”
In truth all of her pies were my favorite pies.
A smile and a twinkle would have been her thanks.
In the rearview mirror I see I missed that. I smiled and I thanked but I missed her key ingredients. Love, joy, and the fun of creating a delicious, little surprise. All these she added. I missed appreciating those. Many times over.
I hope you knew, Mom, when we traveled our road together.
I hope you knew it was all my favorite.