A Pinch of Love

I can still remember watching her in the kitchen. Counter-tops overflowing with ingredients, a light dusting of flour as an added touch on sleeves and hands.

My grandmother’s kitchen on the day before Thanksgiving turned into a pie factory of sorts. Thanksgiving meals spent at her home always involved days of cooking, way too many side dishes, and incredible food saved for this one special day each year. A true Southern lady, she was never without extra food to offer you, just in case you were hungry.

I’ll just make something simple.

And oh, the pies.

As a child, I remember there seemed to be at least five different kinds of pie. She baked her pies not from a recipe, but from memory and feel. A handful of that, a pinch of this, she just had that feeling for when a recipe was just right. A gift that I did not inherit.

Her pecan pies were especially sinful, and I saved room for a slice every time we visited for the holidays.

She was in her element on Thanksgiving; putting everything she had and an added pinch of love into the entire meal.

When she passed away eighteen years ago, I was just starting to grow my own family. So exhausted on the plane trip back from her funeral, I didn’t even realize yet that I was pregnant.

My grandmother’s pie recipes were gone. Gone because they were never really written down, but conjured with a pinch of love and a handful of hope.

When my mom brought some of my grandmother’s things back home, I was hesitant to take anything at first. I had my memories of her, and certainly having some of her things wouldn’t make those memories any stronger.

Then I saw the stack of glass pie pans.

Deep dish, fluted, eight-inch, nine-inch, every variation you could imagine.

Eighteen years later, I am still baking pies in those pans. My grandmother’s instincts for just another pinch or just a bit more flour have slowly started to kick in to my too-logical brain.

My daughter by my side this year; rolling crusts and mixing ingredients, filling the house with the smells I remember.

My grandmother right there with us.

And herĀ recipes aren’t gone after all.


Wondering what brings my son home from college for Thanksgiving? To find out go read my post over at Moonfrye today, where I spill the beans on traditions and what really seems to matter to those kids we’re raising.


  1. I love this Sherri. The baking by feel, the pinches of love, your daughter by your side, and oh those tins.

    This? Is lovely.


  2. Awww. Loved this. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother.

  3. What a gorgeous post! I swear I was standing in that kitchen with you. How amazing. I am glad you took those pie plates and kept her memory and touches of love alive every time u bake in them. What a beautiful tribute to her. Happy THANKSGIVING XO

  4. What a beautiful story, Sherri. You wrote it so brilliantly. Happy Turkey Day. xo

  5. Aaah – grandma s pies, I still dream about my gramdmas . At grandma s house we got to have pie for breakfast. I still do that sometimes.

  6. I feel that why whenever I watch my mom make her homemade pie crusts. Never a recipe. Just by feel. I fear I will never learn! But the memoires of watching her are with me forever!

    Lovely post Sherri!

  7. Ah, this was my grandma too! And my grandmother who is still living, at 86, still makes thanksgiving pies. but she admitted to me last year that she has been using store-bought crusts for quite a few years now. At the sight of my jaw on the floor she said, “oh dear. maybe i should have just kept that a secret.” um, yes granny. you should have.

  8. Funny how so much love and memories can be saved in a baking dish!

  9. Ah, so perfect.

    I can remember, being so scared, and then finally talking myself into trying to cook like my grandmother

    No recipes would do…I went by memory, from just watching her since my eyes could look over the counter.

    And I did it. Her arroz con pavo: and it was delicious. I smiled so big.

  10. So beautiful!
    My favourite line? b”conjured with a pinch of love and a handful of hope.”

    That is exactly the way a gramma’s pie’s are, aren’t they?!

  11. Oh Sherri how beautiful, Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. And someday one of your loved ones will treasure those glass pans because YOUR hands touched them and YOUR recipes filled them. And they’ll be carrying a piece of her onward, too. How wonderful to think of.

  13. This is so beautiful. I love that you kept her pie pans and are creating your own memories with them.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. So absolutely beautiful, Sherri.
    Please pass me a tissue. Or five.

  15. This is beautiful. I thought of my Nana from beginning to end. I love that you are passing this down to your daughter now, and still using the pie plates. What a great memory to have…

  16. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother! You can feel your love in your words.

  17. I just love that your grandmother is still with you while you are baking…
    In those pie pans, in your memories, in the moments you share with your daughter.

    The love spreads. Then and now.
    And always.

    I have two beautiful grandmothers; one who could cook and one who could bake; one who has passed and one who’s still with us.

    This post made me long for them both even as I know they’ll never be far from me. Not really.

    After all, we have that pinch of love and a handful of hope.

  18. This warms my heart in so many ways! I love that you are still using her pie dishes. I have my great grandmother’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook with her handwritten notes in the margins.


  19. Sherri, your writing always kills me. In a good way. Always in a good way.

  20. It’s the memories that keep our loved ones alive. I’ll bet she’s smiling at everyone who reads this.