Many, many years ago a young child with tossled blond hair witnessed the true species of fatherhood. A much-used door that led from the ever-popular kitchen (where oh such delicious scents traveled from one of Mother’s many spectacular culinary concoctions) broke. The handle, over years of steady usage, became looser and looser until finally, under the strain of yet one more attempt to open, gave out and fell, leaving a small circular gap in its place. The young child with tossled blond hair was aghast. What would become of this traveled passage? Would it be forever sealed? Would this fabulous oak door that had so sturdily shielded one atmosphere (the warm comforts of an understood kitchen) from a less inviting one (the shady, dusty hallway that led to dark storage rooms musty with years of neglect) no longer serve its necessary function? The girl sat down and thought (because all seven-year olds must allow necessary space to sit and think such dilemmas through) and then, confused and perplexed beyond belief, she shared her crisis with her mother (now carefully placing a treat to be baked in the toasty oven.)”What!” the mother cried. “The door is broken?””Yes,” the girl answered with a tear forming in the corner of her azure eye. “And I don’t know what to do.”The mother’s alarm was only but a front. She knew exactly what to do and that was to not tell the little girl’s father. “I shall call the repairman right away,”Mother declared.And then the girl with the tossled blond hair, who was but only a youth of seven years old, felt a strange tug that would gnaw at her throughout her lifetime: a sense of loyalty momentarily displaced. Confused, she wondered to herself what this could be, for, she loved and cherished her mother (and her cooking) but her father was her father, and, even though some innate female DNA combination in her assured her her mother was right on this one, she still felt as if there was something terribly wrong.”What?” her shaky voice managed to suggest. “And not tell Father?” At this given time the mother stopped her culinary frenzy and gazed into the troubled azure eyes of her seven-year old with tossled blond hair.”Oh honey” she managed to coo in her signature maternal glaze as sticky as the Pecan Buns they had enjoyed that very morning. “One day, you’ll understand. If we want the door to be fixed, we must call the repairman.”Time has an odd way of imposing itself upon shaky moments as this and, before mother or daughter could settle in their decisions and opinions, Father, out of the clear blue nothingness, appeared.”Did I hear repairman?” the man who normally hears nothing heard.Mother froze, the girl with the tossled blond hair smiled meekly.”Honey, don’t worry about it” Mother tried in vain. “I know you are much too busy for these petty things.”But Father, being a father, met no challenge with more gusto than home repair. “No dear, not to worry, I will get my tools and it will be fixed by tomorrow.”Mother ( knowing this battle was long lost but hoping perhaps it would serve as a crucial case study for her daughter’s early exposure to male behavior) only sighed and stirred more batter to be cooked into something ultimately delicious.The girl with the tossled blond hair sat as still as she could. She realized she had just witnessed something grandiose, she just couldn’t place her finger on what it was. Still, her heart grew warm and a simple hopefulness in her arose (like when Barbie’s purple Mink coat matched her Party Pumps perfectly, even though they weren’t in the same set).And off went Father looking for his tools, only his tools weren’t enough for such a match. They included a wrench, a screwdriver, and a rusty hammer, and such things weren’t enough for Father the Fix-it-all. Lest not forget that Father, being a father, met no challenge with more gusto than home repair.This is how the story began, but certainly not how it ended. For Father did go to the store and tally up a bill worthy of a skyscraper’s construction, where he returned with every tool, bolt, nut, and hammer necessary for the job of door repair.And this is the part of the story where we give thanks to Mother for her endless patience, where we understand how it is she can bathe, burp, heal, scold, and generally raise three rowdy young children with just the right amount of grace and dignity (and still create a Coq Au Vin, Scalloped Potatoes and a Chocolate Mousse Cake worthy of three Michelin stars). This is the part where Mother turns away while Father saws and cuts and drills and hammers, and, where it would be so tempting for her to introduce a constant IV drip of righteousness, yet opts (as Mother always knew less was more) to say nothing, going about her business (as well as one could, what with all the racket, the electrical chords, and the curious seven-year old with the tossled blond hair) baking and bathing, burping, healing, and scolding, until finally (as she knew he would) Father would hang his sweat-filled head low and say:”Honey, go ahead and call the repairman”.And what would be left of that marvelous oak door would be but a gnawed out frame, for the man who met no challenge with more gusto than home repair would have left it as such after try after try after try after try to get that circle just right to fit that new expensive door handle worthy of a skyscraper’s construction.And still, Mother, with class and strength unparallel to no other, would mumble nothing other but “yes dear”, but her look, that sparkle in her azure eyes would say it all. Volumes of thoughts were speaking in silence. And then, seconds before the timer would ring alerting that her Sour Cream Apple Pie had caramelized to perfection, the most delicious thing would happen: she’d smile. The corner of her watermelon pink lips would curl upwards ever so gently and she’d look at her seven-year old with tossled blond hair and wink. It was a moment the seven year-old would forever savor, nestled inside the memory banks of all the culinary caresses that nourished her childhood. Azure to azure. She now understood.
Mom's Sour Cream Apple Pie
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
6 medium-sized tart apples (Granny Smith), peeled, cored and sliced
1 unbaked and chilled 9" pie shell
1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 400F
Sift together the 2 tablespoons flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt.
Stir in egg, vanilla, and sour cream.
Fold in the apples and spoon into pie shell.
Bake 15 minutes.
Reduce oven to 350F and bake 30 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining flour, sugar, cinnamon, and with a pastry blender or finger tips blend in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over pie and bake at 400F for 10 minutes.
Serves 8 -10