I’m realizing that often I use the expression “I struggle with…” as code for “This really ticks me off and I complain about it more than I should.” For instance, “I struggle with the time around dinner when the kids are hungry and the house is it’s warmest and I feel like I need 23 more hands to make everything happen and keep everyone happy all at the same time.” What I’m actually thinking? “Man, if Carl were here even half an hour before dinner, or at least FOR dinner, my life would be so much easier/better/happier.”
Acknowledging this selfish mindset makes me verbalize my thoughts less, and I’m working on translating that into actually thinking the thoughts less too. It is HARD. I genuinely want to make planned, well-balanced meals every day, with a good mixture of typical and experimental recipes, and I want to eat it warm, with everyone I love in a pleasant, hungry mood. Is that too much to ask?
Anyone with 4 little kids and a husband with a wildly sporadic work schedule knows that yes, that really is too much to ask. But family dinner is important to me, and when I know everyone’s going to be there and there’s nowhere to rush off to after, one of my favourite ways to celebrate is with dessert.
Pie is not something I make often, or well. I can make a respectable pie crust, but not with the professional ease of many, and getting a nicely crimped edge is far beyond my skill wheelhouse. I tend to stick to cookies, cakes, and other such non-fussy treats.
Thing is, Carl really likes pie, and since his presence at dinner is what I’m celebrating to myself, I aim to please. I think I’ve made less than a dozen in the 9 years we’ve been married. Actually, that’s being generous – I could probably count all the pies I’ve made on one hand. And all those pies would be either apple, or this berry pie. A berry pie that uses frozen berries, frozen pie crust, and a quick and delicious crumble topping that makes it almost, almost, a fruit crumble, my favourite dessert, because I just can’t shake the selfishness that is my most constant unwanted companion.
The original recipe called for a lattice top, but ugh, right? Carl may be here for dinner, but he didn’t cure cancer on his way home. Crumbles are where it’s at, for ease, taste and saving-the-lattice-for-something-serious.
The only thing I’ve learned about pie, besides that it’s not actually all that hard to make and that pretty much any version tastes good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, is that pre-baking the crust is not a terrible idea. Especially with all these juicy berries, a quick pre-bake sets you up for a much more foolproof pie base. I don’t have pie weights, but dried beans or rice work just as well sprinkled on a piece of foil or parchment paper on top of the pie crust to keep it from puffing up.
Celebrate your loved ones on any random Tuesday when you’re all home for dinner – or if have dessert every day already, throw a pie or two into the rotation. What’s your best celebrating-on-the-inside way to show your love?
- 1 9" pie crust, homemade or store bought
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 pkg (600 g) frozen mixed berries
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1½ cups quick cooking oats
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prick pie crust randomly with a fork, line inside of crust with foil and hold foil down with pie weights or some dry beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes.
- While it's baking, combine sugar, cornstarch, fruit, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Let stand while crust bakes.
- Prep the crumble topping by melting the butter in a medium bowl, then adding all other ingredients and stirring until well combined and crumbly.
- When crust is done, remove from oven and turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees. Remove foil and weights from pie crust. Stir fruit mixture and spoon into pie shell. Top evenly with crumble topping. Bake pie for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
- Store leftovers covered at cool room temperature or in the fridge.