I Have “Pie” Hopes…

There is something about a pie that just makes me feel good.  Beautiful flaky crust, sky high meringue or whipped cream topped, pie is an amazing dessert.  Fruit pies, custard pies, cream pies, hand pies; they are all wonderful.

My relationship with pie, however, is a Love/Hate one.  As much as I love pie, it is the bane of by baking existence.

Okay, maybe that is a bit of an over dramatic description, but I have the worst time with pies.  And it’s not a specific thing, like trouble with the crust; it’s the whole process.

Even when the crust turns out flaky and wonderful, the filling doesn’t set.  Or I have a wonderfully set lemon curd, and the meringue weeps.  I just can’t win.

And, of course, my pie dysfunction extends to cobbler.  My grandmother Frances (of cinnamon roll fame) made the most amazing peach cobbler. The crust was sweet and crunchy, with a fresh peach filling that tasted like a warm summer day.

For years I asked her for the recipe. And for years, I never got the recipe. So I bought frozen cobbler and served to my family with more than a little shame. What was so wrong with me that I cannot make even a simple cobbler?

Fast forward to the summer of 2009 at my nephews wedding. Sitting with Grandma Frances at a picnic table, in a park, in a small town in southeastern Colorado. I was just beginning my official journey into the world of pastries by enrolling for the pastry arts program at a school in Las Vegas. I mentioned that maybe I would be able to make a pie after going to pastry school.

This struck my grandmother as very funny. “Kelley, you don’t have to go to school to learn to make pie, you have seen me do it”. I very gingerly asked her again for her peach cobbler recipe, and with a genuine look of shock, she replied “Just sink the crust”.

It was then that my cobbler life changed. I have to admit, it was a pretty anticlimactic change. The sky did not open to reveal a host of Heavenly beings singing Hallelujah, the earth did not tremble. No visible indication that I had just received the secret I had been asking for.

But there it was, the answer to one of the secrets of my universe, “just sink the crust”. Of course I couldn’t wait to have an excuse to make a cobbler. Who am I kidding, absolutely no-one needs an excuse to make cobbler. And every time it is perfect. Tender peaches, with just the right amount of syrup-y goodness. covered in that crispy, sweet crust. It is delicious, but still not quite the same as Grandmas.

Grandma would have been 97 years old on May 5th this year, and I know, without a doubt, that she is shaking her head every time I make a cobbler, and laughing as I “just sink the crust”.

Memories of Me


When I decided to open my bakery, I was almost overwhelmed with all that goes into starting a business.  It had been my main focus for about 5 years, so I had so much of it ready to go;  business plan was written, dozens of recipes developed and tested, and a modest following of clients that would hopefully turn into faithful customers.

The one thing I didn’t have was a Mission Statement.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I had a mission; had been on this mission for a long while.  But I discovered I needed a statement that would convey my mission to everyone else.

Luckily for me, daughter #2 was working for a company that really liked my goodies and had some very talented marketing people who were willing to help me put what I heard in my head down on paper.  So Lavender Box Bakery opened with a Mission Statement:

To provide high quality, fresh products in a way that brings nostalgia.  It is our philosophy that every bite should come with a memory.  We want to help create those memories by supplying you with fresh-from-scratch products.  No boxes, no mixes, no tubs.
Just Decadence in Small Bites.

Just 50 words.  But those 50 words illustrate me; they are me.  Food, in my opinion, is Life. Not just necessary to sustain life, but essential to my life.

Many of my earliest, and best, memories are of food.

The heavenly aroma of coffee and bacon (with a healthy dose of Pall Mall cigarette smoke) takes me back to waking up in my Grandma Frances’ house, hearing her and Grandpa Hardy getting ready for their day. And I can taste the bright burst of warm blackberries picked (without permission, of course) off Old Miss Boody’s bushes;  an amazing summer afternoon snack washed down with a drink from the garden hose.

Coming from a family with strong roots in the Southern states, saying “The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home” is not cliche, it is simply fact. No matter whose house we are in, we gather in the kitchen.  As a kid, I can remember coming in from running around like a banshee with my cousins and finding my mom, along with her mom, sisters and any other girl over the age of 14 or so, gathered in the kitchen.  Even if there was not a meal to be made or cleaned up after, they were sitting on every available chair or the Costco step stool with the hideous cushion cover, leaning against the formica counter or taking turns wandering outside to make sure we weren’t terrorizing the neighborhood.

I guess my point is simply this…food is life.

I mother with food.  I comfort with food.  I give praise with food.  I celebrate with food. I grieve with food.  And I love with food.

As this crazy life of mine spins around and around, there are very few things that I know for certain, but one of those is that whatever happens, good or bad, there will be food.