Buttermilk Pie and Tomatoes

Upon viewing Papaw's picture in his obituary, my friend Katy said, "You have his eyes." That is a new compliment, but one I happily claim. As I peer into a mirror, I'm now surprised to see his gentle eyes in mine. I also see my Mom's warm brown eyes which is not a contradiction. God creates human sculpture inside a mother's womb using bits of lineage forming a new person - reflecting His image as well as a mother, father, aunt, grandfather, brother, and upwards through the branches of a family tree.

The Lord's life-giving creativity is one of my intense fascinations. I unabashedly spy on families when I'm out and about, smiling at the miniature versions of parents. I watch the antics of my family at reunions and hear who sounds like each other, who laughs alike, who walks the same, and so on. After one of my parents' visits, Johnny even marveled at how much their personalities are an obvious part of mine; I've found it humorous how my brother unknowingly talks exactly like my Dad, and how I feel an inner-morphing into my Mom each time we are together.

I am 31, waiting patiently for God to chisel little human sculptures in my womb. In the meantime, I'm enjoying domestic life, and yes, even improving in the realms of cleaning and cooking. I enjoy baking which was inevitable growing up under Papaw's culinary skills. He made peanut butter fudge; pecan pralines and a special pecan-free batch for me when I refused to consume nuts; pecan pies; plum preserves; homemade biscuits tucked with brown sugar; and my favorite - buttermilk pie. At each holiday gathering there were at least 3-5 buttermilk pies stacked in pizza boxes which he purchased from local pizza shops. Our family feasted on those pies and as an adult, my uncle and I brew Texas Pecan coffee to accompany our dessert. After Papaw's death, I desperately wanted to attempt a buttermilk pie. I ordered a pint of Stryk raw buttermilk, used organic unsalted butter, and organic brown eggs to make it a bit my own, but otherwise I heeded strictly to Papaw's recipe.

I made the first pie for Wednesday night Bible study and potluck dinner. I was traumatized because it came out of the oven looking like an aged Darque Tan addict - black egg spots all over the pie. Johnny tried a piece with approval, so we took the ugly pie to Church. For pie #2, I decided to use the electric mixer on low instead of merely stirring ingredients with a spoon. This produced a lovely, golden pie which made the nurses at the nursing home very happy! The third pie was destined for our pregnant friend Charity on bed rest. I whipped up the pie one evening, set it on the bamboo cutting board as I did the other two, and covered it with a paper towel. There it remained all the next day, and I peeked at it right before we left for Charity's house. I went to brush my teeth, walked back to the pie, and there was Harley Cat with his foot in Papaw's pie! My eyes filled up with tears and literally every cuss word in America's lexicon was just under my tongue. I could not even look at Harley for fear I might throw him across the room. I managed to keep my mouth clean until Johnny called, and then I yelled many expressions all the while referring to Harley as HIS cat. The pie fiasco ended happily ever after as we picked up oversized brownies at Whole Foods, Johnny bravely ate around Harley's foot in the pie, and he took the remaining pieces to his Smith Band-mates as they drove to Alabama.

My next goal is to try Papaw's pie with raw butter and evaporated cane juice or another healthier sweetener such as Rapadura (or your suggestions). Mama planted my current nutrition obsession long ago when she baked us carob birthday cakes; successfully weaned us off refined sugars; and tried to start a health food class at Second Baptist Church which didn't take off due to an outspoken Nut-job who said kids need sugar. Since there was only one other mother interested in her views, my Mom graciously bowed to the Nut-job for a time until I resumed her crusade this year. But Papaw is alive in some of my nutrition mania as well. He not only had a natural green thumb in cultivating roses, but he also tended a garden which produced delicious produce including The Best Tomatoes. Though I childishly grumbled in the West Texas heat, I was impressed by each beautiful red tomato he plucked. I can still see him in light blue coveralls, cowboy boots and hat, distracting me from heat and sweat by the fruits of the earth. In his little San Angelo kitchen, I ate those sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yesterday my co-op share included 1 lb. of special cherry tomatoes grown by Life Church's youth group. The co-op lady informed me that her Church is in a brand new building sitting on previous farm land in Katy, TX. The youth group organically grows tomatoes and other produce in a garden behind the Church! I think Papaw would approve of a Church that grows tomatoes, and hopefully my buttermilk pies.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Oh my goodness, Jenni, this post made me LAUGH! I love picturing Harley with his foot in the pie and you dropping every cuss word in the American lexicon. HAHAHA! And Johnny eating around Harley's footprint. What a man. I'm sure Papaw would be proud, and I would LOVE to try one of them Jenni-pies!

I got a BAZILLION organic wild blueberries last night in Athens, TX - picked 'em myself! I'm freezing a lot of them and will save some for you!