Whenever Nana – my Dad’s Mom – baby sat us, we watched Murder, She Wrote on TV. Well, I watched it with her. My brother would be drawing and listening to music in his room, and my sisters playing dress up with the cats and marrying them to their stuffed animals. I looked forward to sitting on the green, corduroy couch with Nana. The kitchen light glowing in on us. Angela Lansbury, as Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer living in the town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Every episode solving a mysterious murder. It was comforting because Nana enjoyed it and I loved her so much.
Every meal she made was a celebration. When I was nine she taught me how to make pie. To use ice water and a bit of vinegar. Keep everything cold and handle the dough as little as possible. I was so proud to learn something she did well.
Four years later, pancreatic cancer took her swiftly within six months of diagnosis. I went numb for a week. Then brushing my teeth, I sat on the edge of the claw foot tub and wailed. Completely unrestrained sobbing. Ever since, the edge of any bath tub has been a spot I can go when things are too overwhelming and wash out my emotions.
Veganizing the pastry was as simple as swapping the animal fat for coconut oil. I often bring one to family dinners and everyone still thinks of it as ‘Nana’s pie’.