This led to a great idea (for me): let's make a pie together! I gave him my Williams-Sonoma Pie And Tart book with all the beautiful photos, and told him to pick something, and we'd make it together this weekend.
To my amazement, he chose a creamy-looking Citrus Chiffon pie. "Are you sure?" I asked him, "not, like, blueberry or cherry or something....well, more kidlike??" He was certain. Citrus Chiffon it was.
I asked him to pick out and write down any unusual ingredients we might have to shop for, a challenge by itself. What's unusual? But this worked really well, to my surprise: he knew we have eggs, but probably needed to check on unflavored powdered gelatin and ginger snaps.
Friday night, I asked Gabriel to pull out all the ingredients. He took this much farther than I expected, including measuring out 1/4 cup of cold water and measuring out the sugar. "I reduced the sugar like you always do, Mom." Ah, I'm doing something right!
So this Saturday afternoon, I set aside the multi-ton weight of work I must complete before Monday, and said to Gabriel, "Let's have our pie date!" And so we made pie.
This pie isn't baked, but its filling is cooked. But first, the cookie-crumb crust had to be assembled and baked, and this was harder than I expected. Nabisco ginger snaps are hard to crumble! He had a great time pounding the cookies, but we had to resort to the food processor too.
Then there was all the zesting and juicing of the citrus. 3/4 cup of lemon juice, plus orange zest, of course from our own trees. Nothing like a baking project that starts off with "Go pick some lemons from the tree!".
I failed to take a photo, but the cooking was challenging too. It meant slowly warming up egg yolks with gelatin and preventing them from scrambling. And lemme tell you, it's one thing to teach kids to crack eggs, but separating them is a whole other ball game!
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours....takes away the home-baked-pie smell from the house. Actually, this pie was more work and much trickier to make than your average fruit pie, which I usually prefer and can knock out in my sleep now.
The best part was, tonight Gabriel and I shared a few pieces and revelled in it. Though I always cut sugar back, this is one recipe that doesn't really need it, and it was on the edge of being too tart -- but was just perfect.
I told him stories about my father and pie, how much he loved blueberry pie and how he'd make all these sighing noises, and pretend to want to steal someone else's pie, but he wasn't pretending at all.
The irony didn't bypass me though: here I was sharing pie with my son while channeling my father.....though really, the two are quite different in this regard. My Dad would never turn down a dessert, but Gabriel takes after his own father and doesn't really favor sweets or fruit in desserts. Which this pie wasn't, and Gabriel likes lemon-flavored things.
It was the sweetest pie I've had in a long long time -- not just the time spent in a project together, but also the long one-one-one intense talking I had with the baker over the spoils. At age 10-1/2, this is more than just laying foundations of relationships; it could become a fond memory for him. It certainly is for me.