Baking a Pie

Chad checked the phone and saw that it was his sister Sally calling. He pushed the button to take the call.   Sally’s voice came through the phone, sounding bright and cheerful. “Hi Chad, let’s get together for Mom’s birthday,” Sally said.

“I’m fine. And how are you?” Chad asked.

Sally sighed. “Really Chad? Fine. Tell me how you’ve been.”

“I told you I’m fine,” Chad said.

“Chad.” Sally said. She sounded irritated. Even all grown up, Chad thought that was rather funny. So he laughed.

“I was going to go visit her anyway. What did you have in mind?” Chad asked.

“I was planning a nice dinner so that she doesn’t have to cook. Monica is going to help me make chicken pot pies.   Jared is bringing a salad. So, you get dessert,” Sally said. Her voice was back to bright and cheerful.   Chad scowled at the phone.

“Why do I get the last choice?” he asked.

“Because you’re the youngest. Just buy a bag of cookies or some ice cream or fruit snacks or something. It’s not a big deal,” Sally said.

“Fine,” Chad said. “But I’m going to bake something. It’s going to be the best thing anyone’s ever eaten. You’ll beg me for the recipe, and I won’t give it to you.   Then you’ll be sorry.”

“That sounds nice,” Sally said. “I’ll see you on Saturday at five. Don’t be late.”

She hung up. Chad frowned. He had three days to figure out how to bake something amazing. That shouldn’t be so bad.

After watching some videos about making sculptures out of sugar and cooking things with blowtorches, Chad decided to think a little less big. Who knew that creating desserts would require so many expensive tools?

Chad started going through his cupboards to see what tools he did have.   After a bit of searching, he found and old pie tin. Perfect.   He could bake a pie. His mother loved pumpkin pie.

He looked online for a recipe and printed it up. Then he accidentally left it home when he went to the store.   That shouldn’t be a problem. He knew what he needed. Let’s see. It was a pumpkin pie. He needed a pumpkin. He checked the produce section. There weren’t any pumpkins.

He found someone in an apron unpacking boxes of apples.   “Where are the pumpkins?” he asked.

“Sorry, it’s the wrong season for them. We’ll have them in the fall,” the man said.

Who knew that things could be seasonal?   Strange. Chad picked up some big purple vegetable. It looked big enough to fill a pie and his mom loved purple.   What else did he need? Eggs, butter. He still had sugar in the cupboard.

He went home to check his recipe. It said he needed pumpkin pie filling. He looked that up. It came in a can, but you could make it by cooking the pumpkin.   No problem. He’d use the directions and cook the purple thing.

He didn’t have flour, so he substituted cornmeal.   He didn’t have pumpkin pie spice, so he used hot sauce. That should be plenty spicy. He ran out of sugar and substituted salt.

Despite the minor setbacks, the pie came out of the oven looking beautiful. There was just enough time for it to cool. Chad felt a sense of accomplishment. Maybe he should have gone to school to be a chef. He obviously had a natural talent for cooking.   Maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe he should buy himself a blowtorch.

He packed towels around the pie and drove slowly to his mom’s house. He drove carefully around every corner and ignored the line of cars behind him honking at him to go faster. They didn’t know that he had a beautiful pie to protect.

Chad proudly presented the pie to his mother and wished her a happy birthday. Everyone was impressed by Chad’s beautiful pie. Even Sally. Chad smiled and soaked in the praise. He ate quickly, looking forward to finally tasting his masterpiece.

He cut just the right number of wedges and carefully slid them onto the plates. He passed them around and everyone took their first bite. It tasted strange. Not at all like a pumpkin pie. Perhaps the flavor wasn’t so bad, but it was hard to tell because of how salty it was.

It was inedible. Chad tried to choke down another bite anyway. He looked around the table. Monica and Jared were making faces. Dad was gulping water from his glass. Sally looked like she was trying not to laugh.

But mom was smiling and eating her pie as though it was wonderful. “Maybe a little less salt next time dear, but I think that you had some great ideas here,” she said. “Well done.”

Chad took another bite. No, it really wasn’t good. His mother smiled. He smiled back. “Thanks, mom,” he said. “I was thinking of buying a blowtorch.   Maybe I can make you something else.”

“I’d like that,” she said.

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