27 August 2007

A Pie to be Proud of

So this is the pie, take two.

It turned out well. That is to say, better than the first attempt. The custard was firm, and each individual slice held its shape. If Grandma Peach's Lemon Meringue Pie means nothing to you, reader, skip down and read the past two posts first.

For those of you who know of Peach's Pie (I am hopeful that readers exist), you know why this was special. And how fitting that it came as the cap to a truly special evening.

Last night we hosted a Sunday Supper in honor of our home's 100th birthday. We thought there was no better way to toast our house than by filling it with friends -- our Northwest family -- and eating a fabulous meal. The night was nothing less.

Four couples, four kiddos, a couple of bottles of wine and, the food.

We had a 5 pound hen I bought from Millennium Farms. I spatchcocked the bird, let him soak all day in a brine of water, brown sugar, whiskey, molasses, crushed red pepper and black pepper corns, and, of course, lots of salt. Then, we charcoaled the guy on our new, old-school Webber.

Alongside the bird was a wild salmon fillet grilled in a foil packet with a little salt, lemon zest, oil and fresh herbs. I also made skins-on mashed potatoes with loads of butter, salt and cream. Then some oven-dried tomatoes served with fresh, blanched green beans, olive oil and sesoning. And a few ears of grilled corn and bread.

Then one added touch that, in my mind at least, elevated the meal to a true Sunday Supper -- gravy.

From the spatchcocked bird, I reserved the neck and backbone. I boiled this down in some heavily salted water, and after reducing for several hours, I discarded the bones, and used the liquid for the gravy base. (For the kitchen techies, this was a day of wonderment in the world of corn starch with the custard, meringue and gravy!)

The result of a day's worth of work in the kitchen was phenomenal. Not just the food, but the conversation, the kids, the love. The evening wasn't about verbose toasts or even reflection. It just was. A meal time, a dinner hour, a family thing. The casualness and routine of the night explains the lack of photos. It was just like I remember dinners at Mom and Pop's, Saturday night fish fries at the lake and the informal meals that turn into block parties at the Princes'.

The kids were the first to scatter from the table. Then slowly, the gals cleared plates, and the boys moved to the living room for a little all-male chatter. We washed dishes and talked, until the kitchen was clean. Then, Dina grabbed dessert plates and forks, and we sliced the pie.

The conversation had drifted outside to the front porch, where little ones were preoccupied with the swing and Wiley The Dog. We sat outside on the late-summer evening, catching up, sharing stories, laughing, and, most importantly, enjoying the company.

Sunday Supper was the perfect celebration for our house, our home. And eating pie on the porch may someday become a memory, or perhaps a tradition, for my family.

Peach, I think, would be proud.

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