A Pie for Mikey

I was five years old when my father died.

It was pancreatic cancer what done the old man in. With a baby on the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about him, about the man he was, the father he was. And naturally, of course, I’m thinking a lot about the man and father I want to be, and about the little boy we’re about to bring into the world. And it makes me miss my father all the more.

We awoke Monday morning to the unexpected and tragic news that our dear friend Jennifer Perillo had lost her husband, Mikey, the father of her two beautiful little girls, to a heart attack on Sunday night.

I was immediately shattered. Knowing what my mother went through in the days and years after his death, and the way it still affects her today–I could immediately empathize with Jennie. And of course I know all too well how it feels to be suddenly bereft of a father.

Jennie posted a video Monday morning of Mikey dancing with his daughter, and I have to be honest: I still can’t watch it.

The next day, Tuesday, while planning Mikey’s memorial service, Jennie posted a simple request of her friends and loved ones. Today, Jennie and her closest friends and relatives are gathering to memorialize Mikey’s life. Her husband’s favorite dessert was her recipe for peanut-butter pie. Jennie kept promising herself that she would make it for him … tomorrow. But there was no tomorrow. So from those who can only be there in spirit, she’s asked just this simple favor:

For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

This one’s for Mikey Perillo …

A Pie for Mikey

For Virgil Dietsch and the grandson he’ll never know …

A Pie for Mikey

And for squeezing out every bit of love you can while you still have time.

The Flakiest

It has a little hat

Last week I received an email from the lovely Sarah of The Brooklyn Nester inviting me to participate in her celebration of National Pie Day. I’m not such a big fan of the sweet stuff, so once I confirmed that a savory submission was okay, I readily agreed.

Generally I rely on good quality all-butter puff pastry or prepared piecrust when I make savory pies, but since the addition of Robo McGee to our family, Mike and I have both been anxious to give homemade pastry dough a spin. Since he’s a little more patient with things like measuring things precisely, we decided that Mike would be in charge of making the dough, while I’d handle the filling.

filling

As it turns out, I had spent some time on Monday making a batch of chicken stock, so I used a pint of that along with a couple of cups of pulled roasted chicken (left over from our last roast bird, which I had frozen and then thawed). A quick inspection of our countertop baskets and refrigerator produce bins turned up a few small potatoes, a leek and a carrot which I needed to use up, so I chopped them and sautéed them in a few tablespoons of butter until soft. I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of flour over the veggies, stirred it through and let it cook for a few moments to get rid of any raw flour taste, then I added the chicken, stock, a couple of hits of Tabasco and some freshly ground black pepper. When the sauce was thick and the chicken very shreddy, I tasted it to adjust the seasoning, then tossed in a good handful of chopped fresh dill, some chopped chives, and a cup of green peas I had shelled and frozen last summer. With the filling done, I stepped aside and let Mike get to the pastry-making.

pastry making

I had bookmarked Deb’s “pie crust 101” post in November, and after comparing it with a few others we found online and elsewhere, he decided to give it a try. He substituted an equal amount of butter for the shortening the recipe called for, and omitted the sugar since we wanted a savory crust, but other than that he followed the recipe to the letter. The result: silky dough that was incredibly easy to work with, and which baked up brown and incredibly flaky. It had a rich buttery flavor, but wasn’t at all greasy as some crusts I’ve tried have been.

Dinner:  January 22, 2008

In a nutshell, this recipe is a winner – easy to prepare, and absolutely delicious. We spent the rest of the evening brainstorming other things we could put into pies or tarts or bake “en croute.” I guess you could say we’re smitten.