On Friday I baked a peanut butter pie with two eager assistants: Noah and Mateo. Yesterday, we took it to my Aunt Jenny’s country home and shared it together. As our forks cut through the cool creaminess of the pie, I shared why I had brought over a pie for dessert.
So, what is the story behind a peanut butter pie? For me, it started last month at Big Summer Potluck, when I met Jennifer Perillo, of In Jennie’s Kitchen. Actually, Jennie and I have been friends online for quite some time. We have similar philosophies when it comes to feeding our families and connect on many levels.
Whether she knows it or not, Jennie impacted me in a big way at BSP. At the opening dinner, we sat down on a sofa together with our plates, crossed our legs and started chatting like old friends. She spoke so positively into my life, about my work, blogging….motherhood, that I was blessed beyond measure. As I have tremendous respect for Jennie, it was pivotal encouragement for me to hear at this point in my blogging career.
For the rest of the weekend, every time I spotted Jennie, she was either throwing back her head and laughing, or chatting up a group of people with her adorable Brooklyn accent. She exuded life, grace, humility and what we call here in Québec – Joie de vivre.
Last Sunday, exactly one week after I said goodbye to Jennie, I saw this tweet from her.
I found out the next morning from Kim that Jennie’s husband of eighteen years had passed away from a heart attack. There was no time to say goodbye for Jennie or her two young daughters. Someone who had spoken so positively into my life had just been dealt an unimaginable blow on hers.
What can one do? I wanted desperately to do something, other than wipe my eyes and try to get through my Monday. I knew that Kim would let me know how I could help, and that Shauna was organizing help as well. But what? I watched the video Jennie had posted – precious, precious memories – and waited.
Finally, on Tuesday, Jennie put out a request. In a beautiful, moving post, she asked us to bake pie.
“For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”
So perfect. When friends and loved ones are scattered around the globe, the one thing we all can do is head to the kitchen and bake something to share with loved ones.
So that’s what we did.
Astonishingly, nearly one thousand food bloggers did just the same.
On Friday, August 12, my Twitter stream was a torrent of love and support for Jennie, all connected with the hashtag #apieformikey. Mikey, Jennie’s husband, was being honored by hundreds and it was incredible to witness.
Tastespotting devoted their entire front page to peanut butter pie, every shape, size and style. A beautiful sight.
Of course, it wasn’t about pie. OK, so it was a little bit about pie (especially for my kids, who never could have dreamed anything so wonderful existed), but it was so much more than cookies and cream.
Each post was an expression of love for the Perillo family. Each one was beautiful.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Jenny encouraged us to hug our families – no matter how goofy they are.
- Kristen delivered a poignant post that was real, raw, and utterly honest. I cried some more.
- Ashley was inspired to create a dinner date with her husband –and inspired me to make some ‘alone’ time for Danny and I very soon.
- Ethan shared his pie with a woman’s shelter, even more proof that the guy’s got a heart of gold.
- Zoe created the most beautiful milk chocolate peanut butter pie I have ever laid eyes on. Points for that.
- Cheryl wrote a moving tribute to her husband.
And the eloquent posts got on and on, many with original recipes, — all in the beautiful spirit of community.
Perhaps my favorite tribute Jennie and Mikey was an exquisitely beautiful video tribute done by the stellar White on Rice team, Todd and Diane. Just amazing.
Today, I’m fiercely proud of my food blogging community. You guys rock my world.
If you would like to bake a Creamy Peanut Butter pie for Mikey, for someone you love, or just because it looks irresistible (a valid reason!), you can find the recipe over at In Jennie’s Kitchen. Be sure to leave her a comment while you’re over there.
Jennie, we love you and will be here for you for a long, long time.