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The Joy of Chocolate Pie and Friendship

I am an infrequent pie maker, usually only baking pumpkin pie for family holiday celebrations. Still, while I was in the book department at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (a place I love to be), an unusual recipe book called “Pies & Tarts – How to Make More Than 50 Scrumptious Pies and Tarts” captured my attention and ignited my imagination. I flipped through the colorful life-sized photos and recipes of everything from Lemon Tart to Neapolitan Pie and envisioned myself creating each one. I justified the impulse buy when I saw the $3.99 price tag.

Later last summer, with several chocolate pie recipes in mind, I had the opportunity to taste Dove Chocolate Discoveries products and to stock my pantry with a good bit of their Chef-Series Dark Chocolate. A year went by, and I only used the book once to make an Apple and Blueberry Pie.

As my turn to host my BUNCO group for dessert and dice rolling approached, I passed over all of my tried-and-true recipes and decided to prepare something new for my guests. Looking through Pies & Tarts, I selected the Chocolate Raspberry Pie. The instructions were straight forward and I already had the chocolate. The only catch was that it, like most of the recipes in this book, was to be made in a removable bottom tart pan, something I did not own.  I decided to settle for using the glass pie plate in which my mother-in-law had created so many family desserts.

On the Saturday before my BUNCO event, my husband and I were in Columbus to celebrate Father’s Day with our sons and found an hour to visit the just-opened IKEA store.  Son Kyle came along out of curiosity and none of us planned to make a purchase.  But, I wandered off of the path (IKEA guides you through the store) to peruse kitchen gadgets and, lo and behold, my eyes fell on the tart pan of my dreams priced at only $6.99! As store closing approached, my awesome husband went through the crowded check-out area, coming out with my prize.

On Tuesday, the day before my event, Dave was headed out the door for a business trip when the new pan caught his attention. He asked me how I planned to remove the outside ring. I hadn’t planned it at all and had a vision of myself, alone in the house, holding the pie flat on my left hand and wiggling the ring off the crust with my right hand. Then I would have the ring dangling from my arm and likely have messy crumbs everywhere. “I don’t know,” I answered. He took a moment to come up with a suggestion. He would set the pie on top of an upside-down bowl and use both hands to wiggle the ring off, letting it drop down to the countertop. During that day, as I made the cookie crumb crust and luscious chocolate filling, I thought about what a wonderful gift God has given me in my husband. He cares enough to use his solution oriented nature to help me with the challenges in my life, and I am thankful. Still, I took a minute that evening to GOOGLE how to remove a pie from a tart pan. The culinary experts described the exact procedure Dave had come up with.

On Wednesday, less than thirty minutes before my first guest arrived, I set the pie on the bottom of a bowl, said a prayer, and wiggled the ring off, leaving a perfect pie in place. My BUNCO friends and I indulged in the rich, creamy chocolate pie with raspberries on the side. I was not disappointed to have several servings to put back in the refrigerator.

On Thursday morning, two friends who also play the flute came over for a trio practice. As we finished, one needed to hurry off and I invited the other to have a piece of chocolate pie with me before leaving. We sat at my dining room table, enjoying the rare chance to share leisurely conversation over a yummy dessert. She liked the pie so much that she wanted to make it for her dark-chocolate-loving husband’s birthday, so I washed the pan, shared my tips for a good result, and sent her on her way with the pie book and my pan. Hers came out beautifully, too, and was enjoyed by all at the birthday dinner on Sunday.

I was blessed with JOY during this string of commonplace happenings as they resulted in a goal accomplished, a wonderful pie, and most of all the chance to bless several friends with a homemade dessert while we enjoyed each other’s company.

I can hardly wait to use my book and tart pan again! I’ve got my eye on the Banoffee Pie recipe (banana + toffee = banoffee).

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. Proverbs 12:14

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Frankness about Friendship

Here are a few thoughts about something precious to me that can sometimes evoke feelings of sadness or inadequacy.  Friendship.  How much do we need?  How much do I want?  How well do I do it?

According to Facebook, I have 381 friends.  I could probably list another 100+ people who I refer to as friends, people I like and have spent time with, but have not connected with on social media.  My relationship with most of these folks meets this definition of friendship from Merriam-Webster, “a friendly feeling or attitude”.  But check out this definition from Urban Dictionary , which includes the statements that friendship is “much underrated in our society” and sums it up this way: ” A friendship can best be thought of as two people side by side looking forward toward a common goal”.

My own definition would include these benefits of friendship:  being known and accepted, sharing common experiences and trials, support you can count on, enjoyment and laughter.  The length of the relationship is not  as important as the depth.  However, I have great appreciation for those friends who have known me for most of my life.  I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through school – First Grade through College – without a few close friends!  With one reliable friend who sees the world as you do, anyone can face difficult days.

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But we fail each other.  As a kid, my neighbor and I fought to be the best friend of a third girl.  Our human hearts can produce envy or selfish ambition that results in broken relationships.  Some of my saddest times have come from growing close to someone only to watch them move away, or finding myself leaving them for the next stage in my life.  It’s risky.

As a person who loves people, but also values time alone, I admit to being  guarded in new relationships if I think that the other person may want more interaction than I desire.  And then there’s the sadness/guilt I feel about how infrequently I talk to or see some of my dearest friends who live a  hundred or a thousand miles away.  Thankfully, those relationships have the depth to last, and eventually one of us picks up the phone.  Plus, we are able to share joys, concerns and even prayers for each other through the wonders of the internet.

After contemplating this topic for a few days, I realize that most of the joy I have in friendship comes from one of these three relationships.

  1. My husband of 32 years is my best friend. (I feel that I can say that without offending other friends.)  I was surprised when the first thing he offered me as we got to know each other was friendship.  The time we spend together each day means more than I can express .
  2. In the words of Michael W. Smith, “friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them”.  There truly is a special bond within the family of God that allows for depth of love whether we’ve known each other for a long or short time.
  3. I have to acknowledge that if all of the relationships I’ve mentioned ended, I would still have my eternal friend, God.  If you know him, you understand.  If you don’t understand, allow me to express how my life changed when my friendship with God began.  When I only knew about God, no matter how well things were going in my life, there was always a feeling of insecurity, a sense that something wasn’t right; something was missing.  With him in the center of my life, no matter how difficult or frustrating it gets, there is always a deep sense that it is well with my soul, that there is no need to fear;  I am loved.

 

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