starsStarting from nothing to where we are, Is farther that the farthest star. And farther than the farthest star is where we are going from where we are.” Eyvind Earle

Today my mind is a fallow field. Outside, the world is sun-drenched and burning. Sunday morning is slow, easy and drifting. My book was open, but I did not read. I knew there were things which needed to be done, but my mind was stuck in auto-reverse.

I must have closed my eyes because behind my eyelids I began planning our Sunday supper. I know that sounds silly in the greater scheme of things, but we do need to eat.

Dr. Advice loves an applesauce pie that his mother used to make, so when I can move from my chair I’ll make it! Isn’t it wonderful that we always remember something our mothers used to make from our childhood? Years ago I overheard several friends of my daughter discussing favorites from their childhood for which their mothers were justly famous. My daughter liked my tuna salad sandwiches. I have always tried unsuccessfully to imitate my mother’s potato salad, however my father produced a suitable one after she died.

I am cheating today with the applesauce pie, as I bought a ready-made graham cracker crust. That shows how lazy someone can get. In it I will put applesauce up to the top, and cover the whole thing with whipped cream. How simple can you get? Dr. Advice could even make it himself if he could rouse the energy today. Chilled for a few hours, it cuts and holds together nicely.

As for the rest of the meal, I’m making a Southern corn pudding with the fresh white corn from the Farmer’s Market this morning. I remember many years ago, in Grants Pass, Oregon where my parents lived, going to a farm to pick corn. My mother thought corn should go from the stalk to the pot of boiling water immediately. Well, it didn’t get in that fast, but we came home with a ton of corn to husk, and then popped it in the pot while the butter was softening and we got out bibs for everyone. Then as my father used to say “The heck with the rest of the dinner, let’s just eat the corn.” And we did.

Why are we always in such a rush, what could be more important than just lingering?


3 eggs beaten well
1 c. milk
1 c. cream
3-4 Tbs. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. melted butter
3 ears fresh corn cut from cobs. Grind half in processor.
dash of pepper

Add all ingredients to beaten eggs. Mix well. Pour into well buttered casserole and bake at 350 degrees until firm, approximately 40-45 min.


blackberries 2 It had been a long time since I had picked Oregon blackberries. Getting tangled in the thorny bushes and scratches on your arms and avoiding hungry bees is part of the fun of trying to fill a pail with the biggest juiciest berries you can get at. It was early in the summer, but the weather was warm, and my mother and I had decided that a blackberry pie would taste pretty good with dinner if we could find enough.

In long-ago years, during the War, I had walked along these back roads alone, picking and eating and not realizing at the time what a gift Mother Nature had given us. In those days I knew all the hidden places berries could be found, but it had been a long time, and now on this return visit, I saw that my mother had discovered new places.


As we crossed the highway to get to the pasture we passed Uncle Jean’s old barn which was still standing, though a good winter would probably bring it down. He kept two or three milk cows there, and when I came visiting, he would sometimes take me down to milk them. The old smell was still there, and it seemed as if I could hear them shuffling around waiting to be milked. I can still hear my uncle’s toothless French accent warning me “Darlin’ stay away from behind Bessie. She kicks.”
The pasture was close to the Rogue River, and if you stood in just the right place you could see the river and part of the rock quarry which had been owned by my Dad’s cousin. I often swam in that cold river trying to outdo my two older boy cousins who always bested me in nearly everything. They challenged me to hop on water skis for the first time one day and were flabbergasted when I actually got up and rode all the way to the dam without falling. They bet me I couldn’t do it again, but since I now had nothing to prove I didn’t take their bet, and I never got on water skis again.


I don’t remember how many berries we picked that day, or if there ever was a berry pie made that night, but sitting in that pasture with my mother, with an errant butterfly hopping a ride on a summer wildflower, and watching a mashed potato cloud passing overhead now and then, made me tell her, “You know, I feel as if I’ve come home again.”


The story of Johnny Appleseed may be apocryphal, but it is so charming that I always think of some little wrinkly old gnome tramping through the countryside sprinkling apple seeds wherever he went whenever I put an apple pie into the oven.  Which I just did.

Years ago when our family had a house at the Russian River, my mother-in-law and I went to orchards in nearby Sebastopol and picked boxes of apples for sauce and pies.  We were great canners of fruit in those days.  We did the picking and the rest of the family ate.  When it was blackberry season she and I picked berries and brought them back so that she could make pies and the rest of us could go swimming.  I feel guilty about leaving her with all that work, but she was a better pie baker than I in those days.

For years, our garage was filled with the delicious and tantalizing smell of apples in summer, at least until I fell off the roof while making applesauce.  I would take a week off from work and devote it to making 50 quarts of applesauce.  As the sink filled with the accumulation  of appleskins, I kept trying to grind them up in the disposal.  It jammed up nicely so don’t ever try that.  Dr. Advice was away on a business trip, and I felt quite capable of unplugging it by sticking a hose down that pipe that sticks up out of the roof.  I don’t remember what they call it.  Anyway, I climbed the ladder carrying the running hose and prepared to poke it down the pipe, when the ladder gave way and I fell off the roof. Dr. Advice said it wouldn’t have worked anyway.   Mott’s makes a fine substitute for homemade sauce now.

My old cooking teacher Marian Cunningham just passed away a few months ago.  She was the second one to teach me to not “sweat the small stuff”after Julia Child had instilled the thought.  Marian believed in keeping it simple.  She was so honest she even disagreed strongly with her good friend Alice Waters about which lettuce was best.  Long after we were using spring greens, arugula, radicchio, etc., Marian still like the old iceberg lettuce she (and I) had grown up with.

I’m passing along Marian’s recipe for pie crust which is infallible.  (I know everyone who gives you their favorite recipe says it is infallible, but this one really is.)

My mother-in-law’s crust was divinely flakey because she only used shortening, but I prefer the buttery taste of this one.  As Julia used to say “Bon Appetit”!!


2 Cups All-Purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar       Pulse 8-10 times till mixed well.

Add 1 and 3/4 cubes of butter very cold and cut into small pieces, 1 Tbs. cold shortening

Pulse about 10 times till butter is nicely distributed and you can still see flakes of it

Add 1/3 Cup ice water and pulse 8-10 times or until it comes together in a mass

Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill about an hour before rolling.  Freezes well