***DISCLAIMER: If you are just here for the pie, scroll to the bottom of the post NOW. Otherwise, you will be subjected to a long-winded not-pie-related-at-all monologue on our family’s journey this summer from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. Not exactly a physically pioneer-worthy trek, but definitely an emotionally arduous one. So for those who are sticking this post out (i.e. my mother), welcome to the Smith family “What did you do this summer?” post. And yes, there will be pie at the end.
We are officially moved into our new Maryland home now! While we have made a lot of unpacking progress, much of the house still looks like this:
Two months ago today, we moved out of our Pittsburgh home, wandered around homeless for a month, then moved into our home in Carroll County, Maryland on July 7-8. The morning of July 8 (with movers still hauling in furniture and endless boxes), Brian and Little A left on a Boy Scout backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Middle K also left that day for a 2 ½ week humanitarian service trip to Fiji sponsored by BYU’s HEFY program. So while Little J and I unpacked, painted walls, rearranged furniture and made endless trips to Home Depot, Middle K lounged on Pacific island beaches soaking up a tan. (Actually she worked really hard in a remote village building outhouse type toilets <that flush>, complete with septic tanks they dug out and installed).
**LIFE TIP FOR TEENAGERS** When your parents decide to move you just before your senior year in high school (after 14 years in one city, one house, one school district, one set of awesome friends), if you approach the move without throwing tantrums, issuing threats or otherwise making an already difficult move even more painful—if instead, you approach it with grace and maturity (love you Middle K!), you will find your parents much more likely to say “yes” to questions like: can I redo my new room when we move? and the bathroom? can I buy some new furniture? can I go across the world to Fiji and do humanitarian work for the summer?
So grateful for this amazing daughter who has grown into such an incredible young woman. I am really going to miss her when she leaves for college next year.
During our month of homelessness, I decided to drive with the kids out to Boise, Idaho to visit my parents and sister (who live there) and other sister and her kids who joined us there from Texas. It was great to visit with family and for cousins to get together again. Many thanks to Mom & Dad for housing us all and for fabulous Aunt Myrna who opened up her home to us in Boise and let us hang out at her cabin at Cascade Lake.
Here are a few pics of our trip west. On our way there we detoured north to visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. The drive through the Black Hills National Forest was one of my favorites. On the way home, we went south through Utah (doing college tours with upcoming senior Middle K) and then visited Bryce Canyon before heading east again.
Old Faithful: not as impressive as I had expected. And so crowded!
Boogie boarding the rapids on Payette River. We left with a few war wounds.
Awesome time hanging out with Grandma and cousins!
(Grandpa too, but he is tough to nail down for a picture)
It was REALLY hot in Idaho and Utah!
Saw some temples in Logan and Provo that we hadn’t seen before.
While we had a great time touring the country and visiting extended family, it is nice to be settled again, and to not have Brian commuting from Baltimore to Pittsburgh every weekend. Many props also to Brian who stayed in Baltimore working and missed most of these adventures (someone had to bankroll all of this fun!).
While some of us have been road-tripping the US, building toilets in Fiji and working in Baltimore, the other 2 members of our family have been off on their own adventures. Justin is doing a semester abroad this summer in Jerusalem. He gets home this week and will be here for about 2 weeks before going back to BYU.
And since last October, our oldest daughter, Alyssa, has been serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Berlin, Germany. We got to talk to her on Christmas and Mother’s Day, but mostly we rely on emails and the occasional picture to know how she is doing. So at one point this summer, our 7-person family was spread across 4 countries (and 2 states). That is definitely a challenge for a mom’s heart.
But enough maudlin rambling: it is time for pie!
Little A’s 13th birthday arrived in the middle of this chaotic summer and we celebrated with an awesome blueberry pie. Little A is much more a pie guy than a cake guy.
And it turns out that in moving from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we are now closer to Amish country! And there is an Amish farm down the road that sells huge ripe blueberries for a couple of weeks in the summer. When I get more time, I can’t wait to go north (about 30-40 minutes, from what I hear) and hit up all of the fresh stuff at the Amish auctions there. My kids are also on the prowl for a great Amish donut place (Soergels: we miss you!).
Double pie crust (see recipe below)
6 cups fresh blueberries
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
¾ cup sugar (adjust based on the sweetness of berries)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs cold butter
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbs heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place dough for one pie crust in a DEEP DISH pie plate (for a regular pie plate, reduce amount of filling).
In a large bowl, stir together the blueberries, lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir into berries and mix well. Spoon into the unbaked pie crust, mounding berries in the center. Dot blueberry mixture with small pieces of the cold butter.
Top with remaining pie crust. Seal and flute edges of the pie crust. Use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top of the crust (for steam to escape). Brush crust with egg wash. Place a large piece of foil on the lower rack on the oven to catch drips from the pie as it bakes.
Cover edges of crust with a pie crust shield and bake at 375°F for 60-80 minutes, or until filling is hot and bubbly (you should start to see filling bubbling from the center slits in your crust).
Double Pie Crust
2 ½ cups flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter
4-6 Tbs ice-cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse once. Add butter, in 1 Tbs chunks, and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add water and vanilla, 1 Tbs at a time, until dough just barely sticks together. (If you are not using a food processor, grate very cold or frozen butter into flour mixture using a cheese-type grater. Stir with a fork, or pastry cutter, and then slowly add water until dough sticks together.)
Divide dough in half and roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface. If dough is too sticky to work with, place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Top with a second piece of plastic wrap and press with your hands or a rolling pin until dough is a thick disk. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, then roll again until thin enough to fit pie plate (about a 12-13” in diameter).
NOTE: For information on how to make your own pie-shield, click HERE.