Tag: substitutions

Flashback Friday: Baking a Pie

I thought this would be a great story to share again just in time for Mother’s Day. It originally appeared on May 23, 2017.

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.”

“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.

Substitute Thieves

“…And there she is!” Baby bear threw the covers back triumphantly. He jumped back as flames shot past his left ear, singeing the ends of his fur. There was a dragon in the bed.

The dragon stopped breathing fire and sat up. “Sorry about that,” he said, looking embarrassed. “You surprised me.”

“But who are you?” Baby bear narrowed his eyes. “And where is Goldilocks? Did you eat her?”

The dragon looked offended. “Of course not. She isn’t at all royal. I only eat princesses. Unless they get rescued, of course. Unfortunately, they always do. Mostly I just eat peanut butter sandwiches.” The dragon looked at the taller bears. “Who made the porridge? It was excellent. The serving in the little bowl was just right. Do you make granola? I would buy it by the barrel!”

“I hadn’t thought of granola,” Papa bear said. “Goldilocks likes porridge so much that I never make anything else.”

“I like granola too,” Mama bear said. “Maybe we could make some after the dragon leaves.”

“I’ll give you my number. Call me if you need a taste tester,” the dragon said, pulling a business card from his pocket and handing it to Papa bear.

“Guys, stop talking about granola. We need to find out what happened to Goldilocks!” Baby bear stomped his feet.

“Oh. Right.” The dragon got up and stretched. “Goldilocks ate some really old pease porridge and got sick. So, she called in some substitutes. She’ll be gone all week.”

Mama bear started making the bed. “Oh, the poor child. She never could resist good porridge. How old was it?”

“Nine days old. Can you believe it? I’m not sure how it lasted that long without being eaten.” The dragon smiled a wide, toothy smile. “Well, it was nice to meet you all, but I have an appointment with a princess.”

“Bye!” Mama and Papa bears waved happily at the departing dragon as he leaped from the window and flew away.

“Wasn’t he nice?” Mama bear said. “I wonder who will come tomorrow?”

“Let’s make some granola. Do you think we should add coconut?” Papa bear rubbed his paws together as he followed Mama bear down the stairs. “This will be fun.”

Baby bear rolled his eyes and followed them downstairs. “Let’s fix my chair first, or it will be broken tomorrow when the substitute comes, and then what will they do?”

The next morning, after the usual walk and subsequent discovery of missing granola and broken furniture, Baby bear threw the covers on his bed back a little more cautiously than usual. “…And there…is a goat?”

The goat stood up on the bed and tossed back his horns. “That’s right, it is I, the littlest billy goat Gruff!”

“Nice to meet you,” Mama bear said. “But please don’t stand on the furniture.”

“Sorry about that,” the goat said, hopping off the bed. “I guess I was more nervous than I thought. Do you have any trolls you need me to toss around?”

“Nope,” Papa bear said. “But we have a barrel of granola in the kitchen.”

“I wouldn’t mind more. The granola in the littlest bowl was just right. It would only be better if I had an apple to eat with it.”

Baby bear pointed out the window. “That’s an apple tree right there. Have as many apples as you’d like.”

“Really? I’ll take a few with me, then. I’m meeting my brothers at a bridge on the other side of the valley. The grass is greener there, you know.” The goat jumped from the window into the tree and stuffed his pockets full of apples before jumping down and trit-trotting away.

The rest of the week was just as strange. There was a princess who pricked her finger on a fork and fell asleep at the table. She didn’t wake up until they put a pea under the chair cushion. She left complaining about bruises.

Then there were the seven grumpy little men who were crowded on the little bed when the bears got home. They were still hungry after splitting the three bowls of granola. “We were promised breakfast, and we won’t leave until we get some so bring it right here,” one of them said. When they finally left, Baby bear’s bed was full of crumbs.

On Friday, there was no one in the bed, but there was a mermaid in the bathtub. “I ran out of magic potion,” she told them. “Do you have any?” The bears did not have any magic potion, but the witch next door had some so the mermaid was able to leave. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to break the chair or sleep in your bed,” she told Baby bear.

“That’s okay,” Baby bear said. “Some days are like that.”

On Monday, Baby bear threw the covers back. “…And there she is! Hey, it really is her.” Goldilocks was back.

“It’s me,” she said. “But where was the porridge? I don’t really like granola, you know.”

“Sorry,” Papa bear said. “We made more than expected. But, I know someone who might like it. We’ll be back to porridge tomorrow.”

“Good. Well, time to go,” Goldilocks said. She jumped out the window and ran away.

“It was fun meeting new people, but it’s nice to have her back,” Mama bear said fondly as she made the bed.

“I’ll go call the dragon about the barrel of granola,” Papa bear said, heading towards the stairs.

Baby bear hurried after him. “Wait, you need to fix my chair first!”

And they lived happily every day after.

Dragon in Little Bear's bed.