whisked away

Some days don’t go as planned.

Sometimes that means getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, or falling in love (or falling out of love).

And sometimes it means being in the car on the way to a doctor appointment, getting an e-mail from the CEO about a morning meeting, cancelling the appointment and walking to work instead. And then spending an hour prepping for a meeting that keeps getting delayed, until it starts and you’re told you don’t even need to be there. And then sitting down at your desk, until an hour later you’re told you are actually needed at the meeting. So you go in, and the CEO tells you you’re going to Bucharest, Romania. And your flight leaves in four and a half hours.

I had to grab all my stuff, jump in a cab back to my mom’s house to pick up my passport and suitcase, and say goodbye. I cabbed back to my apartment to pack, and then headed straight to the airport. I think I cancelled about twelve appointments that I had planned over the next ten days to get ready for my upcoming China trip.

On my twenty-third birthday, we did a tour of the proposed mine site. While we were driving back, our host pulled over. There were wild blackberries growing on the side of the road, and we stopped for a while to pick and eat. I hadn’t picked blackberries in years, but they’re my favourite berry, and when I was little my mom and I used to go pick them behind my elementary school. Our dog would pull them off of the lower branches and by the end of the afternoon her face would be as covered in purple juice as mine. And then we’d go home with our little pails full, and Mom would make blackberry pie while we played fetch in the backyard.

Blackberry Pie


My mother’s recipe; I don’t know where she got it from
Makes enough for three covered pies

Five and a half cups flour
Half tablespoon salt
One teaspoon baking powder
Three tablespoons brown sugar
One pound (454 grams) shortening
One egg (if you’re vegan just leave it out)
One tablespoon vinegar
Cold water

Filling: (Makes enough for one pie)

Heaps of blackberries (I used frozen, and I didn’t measure)
Generous half cup sugar
Half cup flour
Quarter cup arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
Half teaspoon ground cinnamon (and maybe a pinch of nutmeg)



Cut together flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and shortening (if you don’t have a pastry cutter, use a butter knife or a large fork) until it has the consistency of meal with a few large pieces.
Break the egg (if using) into a liquid measuring cup, add vinegar, then fill with cold water to the one cup mark.
Slowly pour the liquid into the dry mixture, stirring with a fork. Only add enough liquid to make the dough come together (you may not need the full cup). The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl easily.
Wrap tightly and chill until needed. Store in the freezer if you’re not going to use it within a few days.


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (400 for convection).
Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl. Mix them up well.
Lightly flour a counter and grab your pie crust – if you made the full recipe above, take about a third and put the rest back in the fridge or freezer. Split the remaining third in half.
Take one of the halves and roll it out to about a quarter of an inch. Flip it into a pie plate. Leave any overhanging edges – we’ll deal with those after.
Put your filling ingredients in the pie. Roll out the second half of the crust, and flip on top of the pie.
Pinch the overhanging edges together and roll in toward the pie. You can use your thumb and first two fingers to pinch around the rolled edge if it makes you happy.
Using a fork, pierce the top crust all over. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 425 for fifteen minutes, and then reduce head to 375 (350 for convection). Bake for another 35 or so minutes, until the crust is golden.
Let cool for a while before serving so the juice can thicken. Or be impatient like me, and dig in right away.

Note: for easy vegan whipped cream, Soyatoo makes an aerosol rice version that is pretty good!

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