I come from a family that doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day; “Hallmark holidays!” was how my father dismissed them years ago. On the one hand, it is a relief not to have to rack my brain for an appropriate gift for either Mom or Dad since they are both impossible to shop for and they happen to celebrate each other better than anyone else ever could. On the other hand, sometimes when I see clusters of parents, adult children and grandchildren taking a post-brunch walk in the park on that Sunday in May, I get a little wistful and think it would be nice to raise a mimosa to my mother and apologize for the time I called her “stupid” for not letting me see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was 12. But then I remember the Mother’s Days of my youth, when both of my grandmothers were still alive and torturing their respective children in their own unique ways, and my nostalgia floats away.
All those years ago my parents used to force us into party dresses and short pants so we could sit on the Long Island Rail Road to join my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather for the Mother’s Day Luncheon at their country club. Despite the make-your-own-sundae dessert buffet it was a huge pain in the neck to go out there. My mother’s tension was palpable and she was pointy and short tempered until we got home. Not because she didn’t love her mother but because the day wound up being more about Nana showing off her offspring in a really aggressive way than family togetherness. How many times did the Mrs. Silvermans, Bernsteins and Smiths (huh?) appraise the three of us with a once-over and a “Hello, Melissa” (that would be Miranda), or a “Nice to see you Jennifer," (that’s Jessica to you). My brother was spared the name butchering but “Tony” was met with a quizzical cock of the head. Can you blame stupidity on a too taut face lift? I think so.
But there was one Mother’s Day that ended our observance forever. For some reason my parents decided to make lunch at our apartment and invite both grandmothers to celebrate together. This was not a regular occurrence at all considering there were no two women on this planet more different than Nana and Grandma. Nana was young, fun, competitive, and opinionated.
Grandma was older, conservative, sensible and just as opinionated.
After lunch, when we sat inside our living room on a gorgeous spring day, it was present time. My father handed each grandmother a package and 68 year old Nana smiled and said to 80 year old Grandma, “Age before beauty,” and motioned to her to open her gift first. Can you believe?! I didn’t know where to look and I think my parents just started to laugh, trying to pretend it was all just such a funny joke. Yeah, not really.
So, that was that with Mother’s Day. And why am I talking about a holiday in May in January? Well, I recently learned that tomorrow is National Pie Day. Who knew? And who knew just how many holidays there are that seem to be invented by people with too much time on their hands. Did you know that Pie Day shares its day with National Handwriting Day? What does that mean? Are we all supposed to practice our cursive? And Sunday is National Belly Laugh Day. And what are we going to laugh at? Seems to me it should coincide with Tell An Old Joke Day which is on July 24th. My nieces would really love Monday’s holiday—Bubble Wrap appreciation day. Although Monday is also a Room of One’s Own Day so if you have two little girls jumping up and down on bubble wrap in one room you really would have to lock yourself in another to have any peace and quiet.
All this is to say, there are a lot of holidays that seem foisted upon us. Maybe we should be doing more spontaneous and regular appreciation. I don’t need a day in May or June to tell my parents I love them. And I don’t need someone telling me I have to make a pie when I don’t feel like it. But of course, because I am a neurotic person who bakes, I feel guilty not honoring Pie Day. So, I’m going to do it on my terms. First of all, I am not in the mood to make a pie crust. Aren’t you relieved? It’s time to use a frozen (albeit organic) one! And I’m also not in the mood to make a fruit pie since we know how I feel about apples and a pear or citrus pie is just not doing it for me. And what am I going to do with a whole, sweet pie anyway? So, I will make a savory pie (or quiche if you will) which will at least serve the purpose of feeding me lunch for a few days.
So, make a pie if you feel like it but don’t forget that today is Answer Your Cat’s Question Day. Just get down your encyclopedia and be prepared.
Happy National Pie Day Asparagus Quiche
Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, Hearst Communications 2001
Printer friendly version
4 large eggs
1 cup half & half
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 pound fresh asparagus
1 frozen, deep dish ready-made pie crust (Yay!)
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Thaw frozen pie shell for 10 minutes.
Prick sides and bottom of pie shell with a fork.
Bake pie shell for 15 minutes, cool on rack and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
In medium bowl whisk eggs, milk, half & half, salt, pepper and nutmeg until well blended. Set aside.
In two quart saucepan bring 4 cups of water to boil over high heat. While water is heating up...
Trim asparagus and cut into 3/4" pieces. You should have @ 2 1/2 cups.
Add asparagus to boiling water and cook 6-8 minutes until tender, drain into colander and rinse with cool water.
Pat asparagus dry and spread over bottom of pie crust. Sprinkle with Gruyere and pour egg mixture over asparagus/cheese.
Place pie plate on foil lined baking sheet and bake 55-60 minutes until tester inserted in center comes out clean. (Note: I mistakenly bought a regular pie shell and had overflow. Buy a deep dish one.)
Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
Yield: 8 Servings.