Sunday, August 17, 2014



“I need another rubber band.”

Handing me the last one Gillie adds, “I think we are done.”

“Its so roomy in here!” proclaims Kumi as she emerges from the blankets we strung together from the lamp in the center of the room. 

Grabbing our bottles of wine, and Gillie’s Southern Comfort, we made a circle in the middle of the tent. The four of us, Gillie, Kumi, Lisa, and I, had all just recently finished our final exams.

“Wait. Where’s the cat?” Lisa very seriously inquired. 

“I think he is under the couch,” replied Gillie. 

“I need him.” Lisa’s eyes matched the determination in her voice. Meooow, and the cat, who never really stood a chance, was on Lisa’s lap for the rest of the night. 

The buzzer screamed from the kitchen. 

“That’s the pie!” I smiled, and almost knocked the fort down as I rushed to the oven. It was a beautiful lemon custard based pie with strawberries floating in the middle. The custard was slightly too brown on the edges due to our unreliable college ovens, but we didn’t notice. The whole apartment smelled like lemon bars.

The pie was passed down the line of friends and into the blanket fort. There was a moment of silence after we had circled ourselves around the pie. Pausing to take in our creation, I could see a combination of relief and triumph in my friends' eyes. We had done it. Despite the hiccups in the middle and the overly browned edges, we had completed our Biotechnology degree at the University of California, Davis, and would be walking at graduation the day after tomorrow. We shared one of the highest moments of our lives together under those poorly strung up blankets. 

As I ran the knife through the creamy pie, the stress of our undetermined, unemployed futures melted away. It didn’t matter what our immediate job prospects were, the overwhelming school loans, or that we would soon be splitting up. We had pie, each other, and Pharell Williams singing to us from the TV. 

“Did you know Pharrell is in his forties with kids!”

“No way, but he looks like he is no older than thirty.” 

“I bet he uses that cream we learned about in Biotech 101 that rehydrates the cells causing them to puff up and reduce wrinkles.”

“Have you guys seen the female parody of Blurred Lines?” The Googling and Youtube videos (which may have included a couple Harry Potter puppet pals videos) continued into early the next morning.

It's been a year now since we were under those blankets. We are all employed, trying to carve our own path in this unrelenting society; but when we get together and bake a pie (this time a blackberry, strawberry, blueberry pie), its like we never left that blanket fort. 

Wine: Trecini's Rockpile Zinfandel Brut
Food: Three Berry Pie

I grew up picking blackberries at the end of every summer on top of my family's old Volvo wagon. After returning from Argentina, I was happily surprised to find the freezer in the barn full of frozen blackberries from last season, and I quickly started baking. I have been working on my favorite blackberry pie combination since the Forth of July, when I made red, white and blue (strawberry and blackberry) pie. Despite the large number of pies I have made with these blackberries, it wasn’t until recently that I found a wine I wanted to pair them with. 

About a week ago I stopped in for some wine tasting at the Sonoma Wine Shop nestled between the ice cream and chocolate shops of the Sonoma town square. I love tasting here, because the guys who run the place are incredibly helpful, and are always down to talk about food with me. They helped me pick the wines for our last Thanksgiving menu. 

On this trip to the Sonoma Wine Shop, Ken pulled out a surprise for me, a sparkling Zinfandel. I thought he was joking when he first mentioned it. Why would someone make a sparkling Zinfandel? It sounded all wrong, but then I tried it. Ken was right. It was straight up weird. Then my mouth started watering for my blackberry pies. The realization threw me off guard. This funky wine was the wine I had been looking for. 

The wine in question was Trecini’s Rockpile Zinfandel Brut from Sonoma County. It tasted just like the sparkling blackberry juice I used to drink as a kid. However, this time had 12.5% alcohol, and an earthy kick to it. 


  • 4 large cups strawberries, whole
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farenheit. 
  2. Chill the bottom crust in the pie pan for about 20 minutes.
  3. Wash the fruit. Remove the stems. I prefer to keep my strawberries whole, but the extra large berries can be cut in half.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the berries. Add the honey, and mix until all the fruit is coated. Add the vanilla extract, mix. Add the flour depending on how juicy the fruit is, mix.
  5. Remove the crust from the fridge. Place the fruit mixture into the bottom crust. Cut the top crust into one-inch long rectangles, and arrange in a criss cross pattern on top of the pie. Place tinfoil around the edges of the pie so they do not burn before the rest of crust bakes. 
  6. Bake the pie at 450 degrees Farenheit for 10 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 375 degrees Farenheit and bake for another 30-40 minutes. I usually remove the tinfoil after the first 30 minutes and watch my pie carefully while it is baking, because my oven likes to be a rebel. 


This recipe makes one pie crust. I usually double this recipe so I can have a top and bottom crust for my pie. 

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, 1 stick
  • 2-3 tabelspoons cold water

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix.
  2. Cut the cold butter into small cubes and fold in to the dry ingredients. The butter will not homegenously mix into the flour, and that's OK. I usually mix with a large fork and stop once the flour has formed lots of small clumps around the butter. 
  3. Add two tablespoons of cold water to the mixture. Combine the dough into one large mass with your hands. If needed, add one more tablespoon of cold water, but be careful not to make the dough overly sticky. 
  4. Flatten the douch into a round disc. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes. There should be small visible swirls of butter in the dough. 
  5. Once cold, roll the dough out with a rolling pin between two plastic sheets to prevent sticking. I recommend refrigerating the rolled out dough one more time before molding the dough onto the pie pan. 
  6. For the basket weave top: I start by cutting long rectangles out of the rolled out, chilled dough. I weave the rectangles together on top of the pie by laying down the first layer, and then slowly weaving in one rectangle at a time, going in the opposite direction of the first layer. 

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