Can You Bake a Berry Pie?

“It is simple, come with me.”  The Simple Prince  by Jane Yolen

The smell of a fresh New England blueberry pie permeated our family’s campsite one hot afternoon, tempered by the evergreens that surrounded us.  Out of place, honestly.  Our family prides itself in being unusual in all sorts of ways.  Glycogen Storage disease just adds dimension.

How does one decide to bake a pie in the woods anyway?  Well, it all started with a hike which I chose not to take.  Three boys and their father came running back into camp with the bottoms of their pint sized shirts filled with hundreds of tiny blueberries not much larger than tapioca pearls which is typical of wild blueberries in the Northwest region of the United States.  “Do we have enough!”  The gauntlet had been thrown down!  My kids had no doubt in their mind that I could accomplish this request.  Their concern was if they had picked enough. “It sure looks like it,” was my response.

The boys were eager to get started. They knew from experience that in the woods this would require teamwork.   We needed a fire.  Not just any fire.  We needed a hardwood fire that would burn slow and even for 45 minutes after coals were formed.  Their dad was the master of fire and they were his disciples.  For the next 30 minutes their was wood gathering, reflector oven designing, wind checks and so on.

I always camp with the basics (flour, butter and sugar) and pies require nothing more. The crust was rolled out with a tall tin cup on a picnic table covered with a red and white checked vinyl cloth. The lack of humidity in the air was perfect for pie crust. The kids cornstarch is my thickener of choice for blueberries. I just wished I had known back then that corn syrup should have been my sweetener of choice for kids with GSD. The crust bottom was placed in a round cake pan I had packed for making French toast and filled it with tiny sweet blueberries tossed in cornstarch.  After the top crust was sealed and crimped  I carefully cut vents in the shape of three wheat shafts replete with kernels, the mark of my mother and grandmother.

The pie was placed on a flat rock at the edge of the fire next to the reflector oven made from sticks and aluminum foil.  It was carefully rotated over the next 45 minutes to ensure even baking. It was perfectly imperfect!   Only one side got burned , a little.  “Mom, this is so cool,” commented at least one of the boys.

Living with GSD can be unrelenting.  There is an air of freedom in the woods. Preparing a family to go camping, especially one with special medical needs, is much work, but worth every minute.   Can you bake a berry pie in the woods?  It is simple, come with me.

Lesson Learned: Being successful just outside our comfort zone translates to competence, creativity and confidence in the possibilities of other areas of one’s life.

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