July 2013

Outdoor Play

Self-regulation is a topic that comes up a lot when you’re parenting adopted children. Any child can have challenges with self-regulation, of course, but it particularly shows itself in children who’ve experienced trauma or come from difficult backgrounds.

Self-regulation is the cognitive ability to regulate your inner emotional states and then act appropriately. It allows you to calm yourself when you’re upset, cheer yourself up when you’re down, moderate your emotional reactions, think before acting, and behave in your long-term best interests. (As an adult, it also allows you to act in accord with your deepest values and beliefs.) Children with cognitive impairment and emotional problems usually have trouble with all of the above.

Ann posted a NPR article on SlowMama’s Facebook page this week that caught my attention: It is yet more research that shows how self-regulation is necessary for emotional well-being and future success, and that one of key ways a child develops this skill is unstructured play time.

Two things really struck me in the article. The first was this quote by a cultural historian:

“It’s interesting to me that when we talk about play today, the first thing that comes to mind are toys,” says Chudacoff. “Whereas when I would think of play in the 19th century, I would think of activity rather than an object.”

So true. Today, when we adults want to foster play in children, we usually think in terms of what toys they have or don’t have. But how they play is far more important than what objects they’re playing with, at least when it comes to their cognitive and emotional development.

Child's Floor Art

Children will take anything in their natural environment and turn them into play props.  My daughters, for example, didn’t have any toys prior to arriving in the United States, but the majority of their days in Ethiopia were spent playing outside, unsupervised. The incredibly imaginative, self-initiated play I see them engaged in now is no doubt the fruit of the kind of play they had in their first four years of life.

What also stood out in the article to me was how play has changed children over the years — and not for the better, at least when it comes to self-regulation. You can read more about the study comparing children in the 1940s and children in 2001. It’s pretty sad, actually.

Since self-regulation “predicts effective development in virtually every domain” (according to the researchers), it’s probably time to ditch the idea that our kids need all the right toys and a planned-out schedule and start allowing them lots of unstructured play time on their own terms.

What do you think? Does this research surprise you or ring true to your experience?

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul 




by Christine Nelson

Beekeeper at Work

Beekeeping first caught my attention about ten years ago. I was a mom living in the suburbs, and the thought of “free” honey sounded appealing. I was already raising chickens for eggs, so why not bees? I reminded myself I was a mom with young toddlers and put the idea on hold. Then, about three years ago, my normally productive vegetable garden was no longer productive. The plants were healthy, but there was little fruit to speak of—no cucumbers, few tomatoes, few squash. It occurred to me I hadn’t seen many honey bees or pollinators that year.

The drumbeat of media attention on the demise of the honey bee had already begun. Combined with my own experience, I realized that I needed to bring honey bees into my garden — and my sweet tooth loved the idea of a regular supply of honey. But I had to persuade my bee-phobic husband.

Equipment for Keeping Bees

With my husband’s eventual okay, last season was my first beekeeping season. Armed with an eight week beekeeping course and a smoker, I was excited to take on two hives. I loved watching my bees expand and grow throughout the season. Is there any creature on earth that works harder than a honey bee? I marveled how such a small insect could seem so intelligent. I fell in love with the honey bee. But my bees never survived the winter. I wasn’t alone; beekeepers across the nation were also experiencing huge losses. A local farmer who also keeps bees said to me this past spring, “Thirty years ago you couldn’t kill the honey bee; now it is a struggle to keep them alive.”

Honey Bee

I knew by January of this year that they were gone. And I had a moment when I thought this fun hobby was hard. It was time to dig deep. I spent the rest of the winter reading and then reading some more about what had gone wrong and how I could prevent it. I researched favorite nectar plants for honey bees and planned out which ones I could add to my yard.

To add to the challenge, I wanted to keep bees organically: I became determined that bees should not receive a potent cocktail of antibiotics and pesticides (which most beekeepers are taught to administer), all in the name of keeping them alive. I wanted to raise healthy bees, bees that could survive — and thrive. It was no longer about me and my need for honey and pollination, but about them. I wanted (and still want) to keep bees to help them survive.

Bee Hives

So how are my bees doing this season? I started with three new hives, but had to combine two of the weaker ones. One hive is particularly strong. It’s still too early to say if they’ll survive, but I’m cautiously optimistic. My dreams of honey will have to wait — for now, at least — and that’s okay.

Would you ever consider keeping honey bees?

Images: Christine Nelson. Christine is a stay-at-home mom in central Massachusetts. She shares her home with one husband, two kids (ages 14 and 9), one dog, two cats, a rabbit, chickens and, of course, bees.



Summer In The City

July 29, 2013

Inner Harbor Fountain

If you’re a regular reader here, you probably already know that my idea of summer is sitting at our ocean-front family cottage in Nova Scotia, eating wild berries and scones and fresh-picked veggies, relaxing with family, having cookouts on the beach, and practicing my underwater handstands.

That’s pretty much how I spent all my childhood  summers, so I’m still a bit lost when it comes to what to do in the city during hot summer months — especially now that I have children. My poor girls have already declared they’re ready for it to be over: “Mum, we want winter! When is winter coming?” So I’m committed to helping them find a few things to like about summertime in Maryland. Here are a few things we’ve been doing:

H in the Fountain

Public fountains

I’m not sure how many cities have these, but Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has a public fountain for kids. (See lead photo above.) Truth be told, I’ve been wanting to run around in this fountain for years and considered borrowing a few children before I became a mom so that no one would wonder who the crazy lady in the fountain was. Now it’s great because I get to pretend I’m just taking care of my kids! The water is chlorinated beyond belief, but it’s a fun way to cool off when the pavement is sizzling.

Pool Time

Pool swimming

I grew up swimming in the Atlantic, but in many cities it’s pool swimming or none at all. We enrolled S & H in weekly swimming lessons a few months ago and it’s turned into a great way to spend part of our summer weekends. (Bonus that it’s a salt water pool.) Additionally, we have a neighborhood friend with a pool who invites us once or twice a week to join her — another way my girls can practice swimming and have some fun in the sun.

Playtime with water

When we can’t make it to the fountain or to a friend’s pool, the girls put their bathing suits on, grab some buckets of water, and head out to our upstairs deck to play. Sometimes they prefer to just take a cool shower or bath in the middle of the day with some of their waterproof toys.

Summer Ice Cream

Ice cream

I don’t give my daughters much dairy since they seem to have a slight intolerance to it, but what is summer without ice cream?  I make a non-dairy version at home, but I occasionally allow conventional ice cream or frozen yogurt when we’re out. They love it, and we have a couple of favorite spots in the city we go. The happy faces above say it all.

Indoor exploration

On days when it’s too hot to be outside, but we desperately need a change of scenery, we head to a museum, the Maryland Science Center, or a bookstore. It’s nice to stroll around in these temperature-controlled places while discovering new things.

First Corn-On-The-Cob

Farmers markets

The girls and I currently have a Saturday morning routine: We head to the nearest farmers’ market and pick up some fresh produce and fluffy croissants. Then we come home, whip up some scrambled eggs, wash some berries and fruit, and sit down for an early breakfast while B catches up on some sleep. The girls look forward to this every week. Corn-on-the-cob is the latest find at the market  — watching S and H try it for the first time brought me right back to my childhood summers.

Reading time

Now that the girls can understand English, they love books so we’re finally making our way through the collection we’ve had since before they came home. Story time happens before bed every evening, but on hot days — when we’re all feeling a bit lethargic — we’ll open some favorites and read them together. Once the girls can read themselves, this early love of books will hopefully mean lots of time reading on their own.

We’ve also been doing some summer baking, playdates with friends, and building lots of impressive structures with legos and blocks when it’s too hot to get outside.

What are you favorite summer time activities with kids?

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul





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Pull Up a Chair

July 26, 2013

House on a Landscape

I remember years ago a friend of mine — who had three kids at the time — told me that, while she loved the idea of older homes, she wanted to live in something new. Old houses, she said, are harder to clean, need a lot of maintenance, and just don’t tend to be as functional, which was what she was looking for as a busy mom of little ones.

At the time, I remember sympathizing with her view but thinking to myself, “I could never compromise charm and character for mere function.” Ha. With one house repair after another, and old baseboards that never look clean, no matter how hard I scrub, I find myself day-dreaming about our next house — something a little younger than 113 years old, or at least something completely renovated. I still can’t imagine myself in a house without character, but now with little ones, I just really want everything to work well and to look clean and to not be forking out money constantly for home repairs.

And then as I catch myself thinking this, my mind goes to where my girls lived before they came home to us, and what members of their birth family continue to live with each day, and I feel like I’ve got to remember that my old house, with all its flaws, is a mighty privileged place to be.

How was your week? Mine flew by! For our chat today, I’m offering a simple, refreshing, non-alcoholic drink: a cherry limeade. A tasty twist on a classic summer drink for a hot July day. Here’s my high and low this week:

Low: First, a close friend’s father died this week — a generous and good man who will be missed. So hard to lose a parent! Also, our kitchen leak became a big problem and we were stepping in water most of the week.

High: While we thought the leak might become a Pandora’s Box situation and cost a mint to fix, it turned out to be the best-case scenario and was fixed within two hours. Sure, we have to replace the floors now, but it’s not an emergency.

Bonus question: What kind of dwelling do you currently call home? In your dream world, what would your perfect home be? I’ve already told you about my 1900 brick Baltimore city row house. I don’t think I have just one dream home, though I spotted this recently and thought it looked pretty perfect, at least from the outside. It’s Balinese style (which I love) and located in Costa Rica, so probably not something I’m ever going to find around here, but a girl can dream (when she’s not kicking herself in the pants for being ungrateful for what she has).

Please help yourself to a cherry limeade and tell me about your week! Have a slow weekend, and see you back here on Monday.

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul



by Margaret Cabaniss

Meal-Planning for a Crowd

Right now, I’m smack in the middle of preparations for my family’s annual reunion on the lake. It seems like we manage to add one or two babies to the clan every year, so the prep work gets a little more elaborate each time — particularly when it comes to planning meals. We’ve had our share of food mishaps that have now become the stuff of family legend — like the time we somehow ended up with 15 packages of English muffins but only one box of pasta to feed 25 people…

Needless to say, we’ve learned a thing or two from our mistakes, and we’re getting better at the meal-planning (though check with me again once this trip is over). If you’re heading off on a family vacation or reunion this summer, here are a few suggestions for keeping the mealtime crazy in check:

Plan ahead. Well, obviously. But the key here is to be really specific: How many meals will you need to cook? How much meat do you need per person, per meal? What recipes will you use? The more you can nail down in advance, the less likely you are to be making daily runs to the grocery store for items you forgot — or chucking the whole idea of cooking and eating out every night instead.

Pick the right recipes. When dealing with under-stocked vacation rentals and the various food allergies and preferences of a lot of different people, it’s best to stick to tried-and-true basics. Find recipes that can be easily scaled up for a crowd and that don’t require a long list of specific ingredients (or fancy equipment); it’ll streamline your shopping list, reduce your kitchen time, and be more likely to cover a wide variety of tastes and preferences. Also, be sure to print out whatever recipes you need in advance — or load them all into your favorite digital recipe organizer — so you’ll have them on hand when you need them.

Meal-Planning for a Crowd

Bring your own supplies. If you’re driving to your vacation site and have room in your car for a few extra supplies, this can be a lifesaver. Rather than buying all the condiments and spices you’ll need for the week, pack some from home; if you can make and freeze a few things ahead of time, do that, too. Bringing a few supplies from home — like an extra-large pot or electric griddle — is a good way to compensate for the limited resources you’ll have once you reach your destination.

Scout out your options. Food in resort towns can be expensive, so hitting the store on your way to the beach can save you quite a bit of cash. See if anyone in your group has a warehouse club membership you can make use of, too: Better to spend the same amount of money for extra food you can take home later, rather than blowing it all on tiny jars of peanut butter…

Divide and conquer. I love cooking, but when I’m on vacation, I’m trying to maximize my time on the water rather than in the kitchen. To keep any one person from shouldering too much of the mealtime burden, consider splitting up the tasks: Assign a couple of people to make the grocery run, another pair to cook one evening, another to clean, etc. However you want to share the load, let people know ahead of time what the general plan of action is so you’re not stuck with last-minute confusion over who is in charge of what.

Meal-Planning for a Crowd

Let the kids eat first. Serving 25 kids and adults dinner all at once is a recipe for chaos (trust me). To save yourself the headache, try letting the kids eat first: They can bolt their meals and get back to playing — which is what they want to do anyway — and after they’re finished, the parents can sit down to relax and enjoy a (relatively) leisurely dinner.

Have a back-up plan. Even with all your careful planning, move-in and move-out days are usually hectic with packing and unpacking, cleaning, searching for that lost swimsuit… Consider ordering take-out those days — or, at the very least, making something quick and easy — to keep the extra hassle to a minimum.

Do you have tricks for planning large meals for a crowd? Share them in the comments — and I’ll see you after my vacation!

Images: Margaret Cabaniss


How to Make Good Pie Crust

Where I come from, pie crust is serious business, and none was quite so delicious as my Grandma’s — though I believe my mother is pretty much her equal. Great pie crust seems hard to come by, and many home cooks are intimidated to try it themselves, but I’m convinced the secret boils down to two things: a tried-and-true recipe and a little confidence.

For years, I’ve been using the “Never-Fail Pie Crust” recipe from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, and it truly never fails me. In fact, everyone always raves about my crust, so I’ve never felt the need to branch out. I’ve adapted the recipe below and want to show you just how easy it is to make. Summer and fall are pie-making seasons, so never mind living up to your grandmother’s reputation (or anyone else’s) — just grab that flour, believe in yourself, and make it happen!

Note: While I use a lot of alternative flours in my cooking these days, this is a standard pie crust recipe, so I recommend using unbleached white flour or substituting half whole wheat. This tends to make enough for one double-crust pie plus a single shell, depending on the size of your pie plate. You can double the recipe easily, and the dough freezes well. I use this for galettes and any pie-like concoction that calls for a standard crust.

Alrighty: With my trusty helpers at hand to help me show you how it’s done, let’s get started…

How to Make Good Pie Crust

First, get everything ready. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • rolling pin
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • fork
  • pastry cutter (or two blunt knives)
  • sifter (or fine mesh strainer)
  • large mixing bowl
  • pie plate

How to Make Good Pie Crust


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 lb (approx 8 oz) shortening or lard, cool or at room temperature
  • 1 small egg
  • about 1/2 cup water

How to Make Good Pie Crust

Use a sifter or fine-mesh strainer to sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.

How to Make Good Pie Crust

Using your pastry cutter (or two dinner knives), cut in the shortening (I use lard straight from a farmer a lot) until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Here’s how it should look:

How to Make a Good Pie Crust

Break the egg into a liquid measuring cup and beat with a fork. Add water to raise the liquid to the 3/4 cup mark and beat again to combine. Next, make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 1/2 cup of the egg mixture, mixing lightly with a fork and tossing flour in from the sides as you go until it’s mixed in:

How to Make Good Pie Crust

Knead the dough a couple of times until it comes together in a nice ball, then wrap tightly in saran wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

How to Make Good Pie Crust

To use the dough: For a double-crust pie, cut the dough into three equal pieces (and set one aside). Form the dough into a ball, or thereabouts:

How to Make Good Pie Crust

On a floured surface, roll out one dough ball into a round disk about 1/4″ thick. Keep plenty of flour under it and on your rolling pin so it won’t stick. (If you give the dough a quarter turn after every roll, that will help keep the dough loose, too.)

How to Make Pie Crust

Do your best to make it nice and round, then lift it gently from the surface and lay it evenly over your pie plate. To transfer your dough without tears, try one of these tricks: Gently fold the dough in quarters, then place the “point” in the center of your pie plate and unfold; or, gently lift one side of the dough, drape it over your rolling pin, then slowly lift the rest of your dough (keeping the pin in the middle) and lay it in the center of your plate.

Here’s how it looks when my mother makes it:

How to Make a Pie Crust

My own pie crust never looks this great, so don’t worry: If your crust isn’t perfectly round, or if it hangs unevenly over the edges, just trim it. If any holes appear, plug them up with extra dough from your trimmings.

Roll out your top piece of pie dough the same way. After filling your pie, place your second layer on top and trim the edges of the pie with scissors or a knife. Then take a fork and press it gently against the edges all the way around to seal the pie crust together (you can also pinch it with your fingers to create a rounder, lovelier-looking crust). Don’t forget to make a few venting slits.

Hpw to Make a Good Pie Crust

If you like, brush the top with the remaining egg mixture before placing it in the oven (it’ll make a glossy, beautiful crust), then bake according to your pie’s instructions. (Depending on the pie, I usually bake mine at 375 for 40-45 minutes, or until it starts to brown.)

Do you have a favorite recipe for pie dough? Are you intimidated by pie crust, or is it second nature for you?

This is the second installment of SlowMama’s “The Basics,” a new series of how-to posts designed to help you be a better, more self-sufficient cook, hostess, seamstress, carpenter, homemaker…you name it. If there’s a basic skill you’ve always wanted to learn, let us know!

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul 


Letting Kids Fail

July 23, 2013

by Ann Waterman

Upset Baby II

Just before heading out to my son’s swimming lesson the other day, I peeked inside his swim bag and noticed his towel was missing. I was about to call upstairs to remind him to bring a towel, but then I stopped myself. All week I had been reminding him what to pack in the bag — and just 15 minutes earlier, I had reminded him once again. I decided to let him go to swimming lessons without the towel and suffer the consequences.

When he came out of the pool dripping and cold, he made a beeline for his towel to dry off — but when he looked in the bag, it wasn’t there. He looked at me helplessly, and when I asked what was wrong, he told me what I already knew: no towel. I calmly pointed out that he needed to remember it next time, helped him dry off with paper towels from the change room, and headed home, laughing with him along the way about our makeshift solution. He packed a towel in his bag for the rest of the week without any reminders.

As a parent, it can be hard not to intervene. Sometimes, it’s easier, less messy, or more convenient to handle things yourself. It’s hard to see your child struggle — even fail — especially when you can see the consequences of their actions (or inaction) from miles away. But sometimes, as I’m learning, it’s good to let them figure things out for themselves, even if it pains us or is  inconvenient, because in life, experience is often the best teacher.

I frequently remind myself that a large part of my job as a parent is to prepare my child to live on his own one day (hopefully with some modicum of success — and by his 18th birthday would be nice), and that includes allowing him to struggle and learn from his failures. And when you think about it, what better place to learn about failure — and how to overcome it — than in the context of the family, which offers unconditional love and support to try again? The world isn’t always so forgiving, so the best gift I can give him are the tools to navigate life on his own. That might involve some short-term pain for both of us, but better to learn now, surrounded by people who care, than later when you face the world alone.

What about you: How do you foster independence in your child? Have you ever purposely let your child fail at something?

Image: Ann Waterman



July 22, 2013

S&H in Hats

There’s a particular joy in watching adopted children experience something most children already know or take for granted. While I missed seeing my girls take their first steps and utter their first words (in their native language), there’s been no shortage of “firsts” to witness in our first year together.

Some of the most seemingly insignificant things were amazing to my daughters when they landed in their new life and experienced a house like ours for the first time: window panes, locks on doors, light switches, door knobs, cupboards, closets, appliances. It was a whole other planet to them.

Clothes of Their Own

I was there the moment my daughters realized the clothes in their closet were actually theirs, that they had a bed of their own and a room of their own. I was there when they tasted their first apple, their first slice of pizza, their first sip of chocolate milk; when they saw their first domesticated dog, and their first snowfall, and their first playground with swings; when they went to a store for the first time.


I was there when they took their first shower — they could hardly believe there was warm water falling on their heads from a spout in the wall. Taking a bath was equally wonderful: They’d squeal with delight, stick their heads under the water, try to swim, and refuse to come out until their teeth were chattering.

H on Swing

It was an unforgettable day when B and I took our girls to the National Aquarium, where they saw fish and turtles, dolphins and shark, jellyfish and crocodiles.

Encountering Turtle

I’d heard adoptive parents of toddlers and preschoolers describe what it’s like to witness these firsts in their new children, and now I really get it. Watching our daughters learn to swim, use utensils, hold crayons and writing instruments properly…it’s hard to describe how satisfying and moving it all is. There have been so many brand new experiences in this first year, with so much more to come.

If you have children, what were some of the “firsts” that you’ll never forget?

Images: Zoe Saint-Paul (H on swing taken by Theresa H.)


Pull Up a Chair

July 19, 2013

Backyard Greenery

How is your summer going so far? Mine has been a little underwhelming, if I’m being perfectly honest. Not that summer in Maryland is ever my favorite time; in fact, these are the months I always wish I could be somewhere else — namely, sitting at our family cottage on the north shore of Nova Scotia. Right now I’m particularly feeling the loss, since most of my siblings are there as I type, enjoying each others’ company, eating up my mother’s garden, and cooling off in the Northumberland Strait.

Not one to see the glass half empty for long, I’m hopeful the remaining weeks of summer will be enjoyable, but I’m keenly aware that the best thing I can do is be realistic about my expectations. I have a lot on my plate and a lot of planning to do as fall draws near — including figuring out what we’ll be doing for the girls’ schooling and working out a new schedule for myself. I’ll also be chief planner for a family getaway in late August, which I look forward to telling you more about. That will make the month ahead even busier, but it also gives me something to look forward to!

Anyway, here we are at the end of another hot week, and I think this Beagle (spotted at Tasting Table and adapted from a recipe from The Beagle bar in NYC) looks pretty great for a Friday happy hour chat. I’d probably never go to the trouble of buying all the ingredients for it, but I’d order one in a heartbeat because it looks so interesting! Here’s my high and low of the week:

Low: With the super-hot weather all week, it’s been impossible to get out for any length of time with the girls, so I’ve felt very cooped up. Also, we’ve got another house repair issue — this time a complicated plumbing problem in the kitchen — and no solution yet. Another low: Following through on a consequence we gave one of our daughters earlier this week was no fun. It sure is hard to hold your ground when you have a little girl begging you to change your mind with alligator tears streaming down her face. As a parent, I’m so much more of a softy than I ever thought I would be!

High: Despite being indoors so much of the week, my girls had a string of good days: They barely had a spat, played well for long stretches, and were in happy moods. They’re also listening to mommy better — something we’ve been working on. Let’s hope it keeps up!

Bonus question: What’s one thing you want to do before the summer ends? I want to get my recipes better organized and find more easy, healthy options for dinner meal planning. I also want to make Ann’s basil lemonade.

Okay, tell me about your week over one of those Beagles, and then have yourself a slow summer weekend. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul


by Margaret Cabaniss

Summer Berries

I don’t even care that it’s a million degrees out this week; summer berries are in, and I am happy. I’ve already picked my weight in blueberries at the farm down the road, and whenever I get the chance, you can find me skulking around my sister’s garden, filching from her cultivated blackberry and raspberry canes, or hunting around the edges of her yard for the wild black raspberries and wineberries growing there.

Summer Berries

I keep thinking that I should do something with all these berries — bake a cake, make some jam, something — but mostly I end up eating them before I can reach any kind of critical mass for a recipe. Frankly, I think that’s the best way to enjoy them: There is nothing more delicious than perfectly ripe, just-picked berries — particularly if you find them growing wild, in which case it just feels like Mother Nature is giving you the most perfect “sorry for the heat” present ever.


Triple Berry Pie

This mixed-berry pie recipe might be the one exception to the no-bake rule. Though in fact, it’s not baked at all, which is what gives it its really astonishing fresh flavor: Rather than cooking all the berries down into some indistinct pie filling, it starts with a graham cracker crust that you fill with a custard-y base of sweet berry puree, then the whole thing gets topped off with a mountain of glossy fresh berries — more like a berry tart than a pie, and all the better for it. It is one of the more delicious things I have put in my face all summer.

And it’s definitely a make-it-now kind of thing: Buying these amounts of berries any time other than when they’re in season would be prohibitively expensive — not to mention not nearly as tasty. If you can’t find all three types of berries, you can make it with blueberries and raspberries only; just increase the amounts accordingly.

Serve it with some blackberry lemon verbena soda, or maybe a blackberry gin fizz — or just a handful of fresh berries on the side. You really can’t have too many.

Summer Berry Pie
via Baking Illustrated

Mixed Berry Pie

For the crust:

  • 9 graham crackers (5 oz), broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm

Preheat the oven to 325. Process the graham crackers in a food processor (or pound in a Ziploc bag on the counter) until evenly fine. Add the sugar and pulse a couple of times to combine. Continue to pulse as you slowly add the melted butter, processing until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate, then carefully press into the bottom and sides of the pan to form your crust. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is fragrant and beginning to brown. Set it aside to cool completely.

Mixed Berry Pie

For the filling:

  • 2 cups raspberries (~9 oz)
  • 2 cups blackberries (~11 oz)
  • 2 cups blueberries (~10 oz)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red currant jelly (apple jelly will also work)

Carefully rinse your berries, then spread them out on a paper-towel lined baking sheet and gently pat dry. Transfer 2 1/2 cups of berries to your food processor and blend until smooth and completely pureed, about a minute. (Don’t skimp on time here; the longer you process, the more juice you’ll extract.) Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer, scraping the seeds and pressing as you go; you should have about 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups of puree when you’re finished.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt to combine, then whisk that mixture into the berry puree. Heat the puree in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When it just reaches a boil and is about the consistency of pudding, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, stirring to combine. Set it aside to cool slightly.

Mixed Berry Pie

Place the remaining whole berries in a bowl. In a separate small saucepan, melt the red currant jelly over low heat until completely liquefied, then pour the mixture over the berries and gently toss to coat.

To assemble the pie: Pour the berry puree into the crust, smoothing the top with a spatula, then carefully add the berries, pressing down slightly to set them in place. Loosely cover the pie with saran wrap and allow to set in the fridge, at least 3 hours and up to one day. Serve with whipped cream.

Mixed Berry Pie

Images: Margaret Cabaniss