White Dog had a special request. "Momma," she asked early this morning. "I know it is hot and not really the right time of year but would you make chicken pot pies for dinner? We need some good old fashioned comfort food and your grandmother taught you how to balm the soul with her recipes."
I laughed. "She did me no favors, Sweet One. Maybe if she never taught me or had been a terrible cook, I would be slender and comforted by a long power walk, not a dark spice cake."
"Could you make on of those, too?" Puff asked, "No raisins, though, just those spices and cake."
"Is that something that will provide some solace, Dear Ones," I asked and got tail thumps of affirmation in response. I already had chicken defrosting in the refrigerator for tonight. So I agreed...to both requests.
Steve blended the old fashioned spice cake by hand and poured the batter into the pan. Soon the entire house smelled like cinnamon and cardamom and nutmeg and vanilla. He left the pan to cool while he went to the office for a few hours, but promised to drizzle the top with an orange zested powdered sugar glaze when he returned.
The White Dog Army supervised boiling the chicken. "Wow! Now we have stock, too!" Nilla exclaimed and I could tell she was thinking of all the great uses for it. In the end we froze it in little cups so that it could become pupscicles for Steve's birthday celebration on Sunday.
We chopped chicken, shelled fresh peas, diced and steamed celery, carrots and potatoes, sauteed and added mushrooms. The WDA insisted on tastes throughout the process to maintain quality control. Finally, I made a light cream sauce seasoned with paprika and pepper that we stirred the veggies and chicken into.
I rolled out the whole wheat pie crust taken from the freezer (it is WAY to hot right now in New Mexico to even think about making pastry so we have learned to make extra across the cool seasons and freeze it).
"One big pie or do you each want your own?" I asked. The WDA went into conference. "Can we each have our own?" White Dog answered in response. I reached up into the cabinet and pulled out the ramekins. I was just about to say, "I only have eight, WD you will have to have another style, when I realized all I need was eight." I forced a smile and turned to them; "Just the perfect size and amount of cups. I will make the ones for dad and I a little larger."
We filled the pies with filling for the WDA and then covered each with a circle of pie crust. As I tucked the edges, Yo asked if I could make the steam vents look like paws. "Who says the White Dog Army is not spoiled," I questioned. "Your wish is my command." We timed things so that the pies were hot out of the oven and cooling when Steve walked in from work.
Dinner was a smashing success and comfort food was the perfect choice. Steve glazed the cake, which we will share before bedtime walks. I looked at the stars and whispered a silent "Thanks" to my grandmother for all the time we spent together in her kitchen learning to cook "Old fashioned," by instinct and feel and a love for creating foods that made you feel better. And then I said to Storm, "You would have asked for seconds, Gentle One."