Best Therapy For Our Times: Zen Pies.

So I’m watching the sorry-ass state of affairs in the Strzok hearing today, and after a week of the administration’s inability to reunite the children and the temper tantrum our President threw on the world stage, my frustration and anger boils over.

I scream out my virtual window: WHAT CAN I DO? Ten million voices reply: Nothing.

But one voice, that of my Grandmother, says: MAKE PIES.

Grandpa Oscar Safsten and Grandma Ranghild Safsten —Old Photograph, Unknown Photographer

My grandma, Ranghild Safsten, immigrant from Sweden, had the reputation of being the best cook from Blaine to Bellingham, Washington. I’m not bragging, either. (Someday I’ll tell you about how her annual smorgasbords raised enough money to build a new church house). People made excuses to drive 25 miles out to the country to “drop by” because they knew she always had fresh-baked cakes, cookies, and pies (and would force people to have seconds).

In fact, she had all kinds of goodies. But especially pies. Her Pie Safe was always full of pies.

So I’m thinking: Pie As Therapy? Yes.

MY OWN THERAPY FRESH PEACH PIES — Photo & Pies by-Diana Hansen-Young

On the day the administration admitted they could only return 38 toddlers out of 102, I made two Fresh Peach Pies (above). I felt better.

Today, watching the Strzok hearing, I listened to the three Stooges — Cracker Gowdy, Bumpkin Ghomert and Fool Jordan — preen and posture, full of sound and farts and fury, signifying nothing.

I couldn’t stand it. So I made two more pies: Fresh Strawberry-Rhubarb, and Fresh Blackberry.

Strzok Hearing Pies — Left: Rhubarb Strawberry — Right: Blackberry — Photos & Pies by Diana Hansen-Young

Wow. Pie therapy works. I feel better.

It wasn’t about eating pie (except I intend to).

It was the act of making fresh fruit pie — washing and hulling the berries, peeling and slicing the peaches, the kitchen full of the smell of the summer smell of hot fruit, cooking — that made me feel better. The same smell that was in Grandma’s kitchen all summer, every summer.

Zen Pie.

The same thing happens every spring when I rush out to buy $300 worth of basil, tomato, squash and other edibles, plant them in neat rows, water them — oh, the sight of the first zuke! — and each year, the deer get them.

All of them. In my yard, deer eat like kings.

Zen Deer Veg.

I finally figured out why I do that each year. It’s an affirmation. It’s a statement: “Hey. Universe. I’m still around for one more spring.” It’s a purchase of Hope. I’m defiantly putting down $300 on that great roulette wheel in the sky, betting that I’ll be around next spring to so the same thing.

Now I know why Grandma made pies. And other goodies. They were her statement. Her affirmation of Hope that they would survive through tough times and live the best lives they could.

Grandma Ranghild Safsten’s Sandbakelser recipe

Fruit pies were her summer specialty. They were her belief that she would be here next summer to gather the raspberries on the vines behind the house, pick the peaches from her orchard, the strawberries from the fields, and take her lunch pails and her grandchildren, including me, and hike up to the high pasture to collect the bazillions of blackberries growing in wild profusion along the fields of grazing cows — all to make fresh fruit pies.

Indeed, those were the Days of Many Pies.

These weeks ahead, as the news becomes more and more outrageous, I’m going to expand Pie Therapy to include all Grandma’s Goodies Therapy.

In fact, the idea of going through Grandma’s recipes and making each and every one appeals to me. I’m getting a little misty-eyed.

So I’ll share some of the Grandma’s Goodies recipes for you to try. She had thousands; these are from an old recipe book created for a church fundraiser.

Grandma Safsten’s Chocolate Pie with Coconut Crust
Grandma Safsten’s favorite Chocolate Cake

As I write this, the Three Stooges are still screaming on TV. I, however, am calm. My house is full of the smell of hot sweet fruit pies. Our Democracy will survive. The world will not end in a whimper. Things will be alright.

They have to be, if only to make more hot fruit pies next summer. Zen pies.

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