WISDOM NUGGET: SCRAPE UP THE SCORCHED BITS, SAVOR EACH BITE & MOVE ON
RECIPE: CHICKEN POT PIE
My rolling pin went up in flames.
One cold December night a year after closing on our home, we had a terrible house fire. I was in Connecticut but my husband was home. We lost everything to fire or excessive smoke damage, keeping a handful of boxes of stuff out of determination or maybe spite. The extra bonus was we had just begun our engagement.
The extra, super-duper bonus were the floods shortly afterward in March of 2010 that flooded our fire-charred basement with water and…sewage. The last few precious childhood memories we had stubbornly reclaimed from the ashes were floating in a sea of…well…you know.
Displaced from our home for almost a full year, we began our married life together with an unparalleled level of heartache and joy. Like most folks, we didn’t mind indulging in a bit of “comfort food” now and again during the chaos.
Some days were nothing but laughs and other days nothing but tears but regardless of the emotion of the day I tried my best to put a good meal on the table from within our hotel room’s kitchenette.
Yes, we did go out and buy some basics but gadgets and upgrades were just not on the list. We had to buy clothes, winter coats, all the essentials. Point is: a rolling pin was not on that list and far from my mind.
What was on my mind, however, was chicken pot pie. It was on my mind a lot. The paint on the door frames in the house had boiled from the heat of the fire. The once-in-a-lifetime champagne given to us the night we got engaged in Paris had also boiled. Everywhere I looked there was evidence of how the flames and heat had changed everything.
Funny, isn’t it then, that the very thing I was craving was a bubbly, charred around the edges, chicken pot pie?
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Without a rolling pin I had to compromise. We had received a pair of metal water bottles in an emergency gift box from some caring colleagues. I remembered my grandma’s “special” rolling pin, which could be filled with ice water to roll dough with ease. So rather than make yet another trip to Target, I filled one of the bottles with water and ice and covered the dough with parchment paper.
It worked like a charm! Charred memories and boiled paint on a cold winter night gave way to bubbly and lightly scorched chicken pot pie.
Yes it stuck to the pan something terrible. Yes, the pans in the hotel kitchenette left everything to be desired. It didn’t matter, though. I was so grateful my husband had made it out alive and there we were together.
No possessions, no keepsakes, no furniture, with little more than the clothes on our backs and definitely no kitchen gadgets -- but there we were. There we were, together, scraping up the last scorched bits that were left behind, savoring every bite and making plans for the future.
It’s been a while now since the fire and our many adventures that year. That water bottle lives in the fridge, always at the ready to go hiking or make chicken pot pie. So remember: cooking ain’t about gadgets, it’s about creating something and, if you’re lucky, sharing that with others who’ve gathered ‘round the table.
chef mel has been creating food experiences for over 20 years. she embraces an "aspiring homesteader" lifestyle & grows over 40 types of edibles when she's not teaching classes & hosting farm dinners. she adores simplicity, new food & edible flowers. her writing reminds us there's wisdom & humor among the seeds, stalks & sauce pots. we're not perfect & that's okay - keep it genuine & journey on!