I just finished reading and laughing at and tearing up over Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui. I’ve never read (or had any interest in reading) LaineyGossip, because my interest in celebrities is minimal at best, but, as a first-generation Canadian raised by an Asian parent, the book totally resonated with me.
Most recent example of my failure to get excited over famous people: while waiting for our baggage on the way back from Lisbon, C pointed out some band members to me. The only thought that ran through my head was “well, I suppose that explains the four skinny dudes with bad hair hanging out together.”
Anyway. My mom is not as bad as the Squawking Chicken. She has never spoken Chinese to me (though now that I’m older I wish she had), and her English is perfect. She doesn’t text me in all capitals – though I do get the odd Facebook comment (on a circus photo: “Kimmie is that a split can I share it”), and she signs most of her emails “love mon.”
Despite the fact that I am holding it together reasonably well on paper – I am 25 years old with my own property (albeit a shoebox), a real job, an only somewhat scruffy dog, a boyfriend, an amazing group of friends, a blog, productive hobbies, and I don’t do drugs – my mother is still not always convinced of my abilities. When I brought over some sides for a dinner party, my mom went on at length over her own dishes: what they were, how she made them, which ones included vegetables she had grown herself. Finished with her own dishes, she waved an arm toward mine: “and these… Eh. Kimmie made these, so… I don’t know.”
She came to my new condo a couple days after I took possession to see it for the first time, and brought flowers. She stayed for about an hour taking selfies with the dogs as C and I continued to build Ikea furniture. When I walked her out, I asked her what she thought of the new place. “The flowers I brought look nice,” was her only comment.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses once came to our door, my mom shut the door in their faces. Wandering back down the hallway, she looked at me and said, “I’m 65 years old. I’m not going to change my ways now.”
A few weeks before Mother’s Day this year, I went shopping with my mom. We were looking through greeting cards (one of my favourite non-food-related indulgences) and she found one that said on the front, “Chef, Stylist, Counselor, Friend, Mother,” and had “Happy Mother’s Day” inside. She informed me that this was the card I should buy for her. (Less than a month later, it is pinned on her fridge… because she has scribbled notes to herself and a couple of phone numbers on the inside below my message.)
Of course, my mother is truly all of those things, and more. And she taught me how to make pie crust (though I don’t think she trusts that it’s half as good as hers… It is, Mom, I promise), so there’s that.
Love you Mom.
Apple Berry Pie
Crust (my mother’s recipe; I don’t know where she got it from. It makes enough for three covered pies; separate the pastry into three equal sections and plastic wrap and freeze whatever you’re not using.)
five and a half cups flour
half tablespoon salt
one teaspoon baking powder
three tablespoons brown sugar
one pound (454 grams) shortening
one tablespoon vinegar
Filling (makes enough for one pie)
four or five apples
half cup blackberries
generous half cup sugar
half cup flour
quarter cup arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
half teaspoon ground cinnamon (and maybe a pinch of nutmeg)
one cup blueberries
one cup raspberries (strawberries would also work)
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 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 except the blueberries and raspberries 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 (I like to use my cast iron skillet, because it’s bigger). Leave any overhanging edges – we’ll deal with those after.
Put your filling mixture in the pie. Top one side with blueberries, and the other side with raspberries.
Roll out the second half of the crust, and cut half of it into stripes. Place these on the raspberry side of the pie. Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter, cut stars and place them on the blueberry side 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 that makes you happy.
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.