As Easy As Pie
My next door neighbor has cancer. If you've got to have cancer, his is the best kind to have, as it has a very high cure rate but, needless to say, all of us in the neighborhood are concerned.
He's a good guy - he gives back generously to his community and is always helpful. He is the president of our Neighborhood Council. He is the Energizer Bunny of neighbors, continually working on his house and, occasionally, on mine. When he saw that my outside stairs were worn and unsafe, he quietly repaired them; I only discovered the improvement last year when I went down to pick peaches. He keeps dog biscuits in his garage for all the neighborhood hounds and adopted an aging stray cat that he feeds with pills from the vet and pricey food out of tiny cans.
He has been pretty down on power for the past several months as he goes through chemotherapy. He lost his hair, of course, but he doesn't seem to realize that it is downright fashionable these days. He makes little jokes about his baldness and often wears a watch cap.
My way of thanking him for being such a good neighbor is usually to share baked goods when I make them; when he mentioned that he loves strawberry-rhubarb pie, I made a mental note. I had never made a strawberry-rhubarb pie before so this seemed like a great time to try. A quick scan of the interwebs showed that it's a very uncomplicated pie to make, requiring only seven ingredients for the filling. Mine actually only had six, since I didn't have corn starch in the house: strawberries, rhubarb, brown and white sugars, salt and cinnamon.
I used Star Dough for the crust rather than fuss with my own and it was perfectly delicious as well as divinely easy. I didn't bother to lattice it, just cut some slits in the top crust. I left out the cornstarch since I didn't have any and, as a result, the pie filling was very liquid but the flavor was wonderful. The cinnamon didn't dominate as I was a little afraid it would. Mostly you taste the tangy-sweet fruit with a hint of salt. And the color! Heavens, what a color! Deeply ruby under a golden crust, it was a visual as well as a gustatory treat.
Shortly after Cora and I took a couple of slices of pie over to his house, I received an email from his wife with a grinning photo of him, fork in hand over his half-eaten piece of pie, and several quotes that he had murmured between bites: "This is a county fair winner!" and "I don't know...this may be better than my Mom's" and "Definitely the crust..."
I hope he knows that we don't love him just for fixing stairs and for chairing the neighborhood council, for what he does for us; we love him because he's Peter.
Pie is a small way to say that.