I’m discovering, very quickly, that I really hate measuring ingredients. I like experimenting with flavors and I’m not really the kind of person who necessarily needs to taste the same thing twice. The biggest difference, in my opinion, between home-cooked meals and restaurant-cooked meals is the following:

You can eat at a restaurant twice and order the same dish twice and it will more or less taste exactly the same. This is perfectly fine because that’s part of the service some restaurants provide (those with a standing menu), and that’s the reason why people eat at restaurants, to try something their friends tried and enjoyed.

With a home-cooked meal you will almost never have the same thing twice. My mother has been cooking our cousin’s brisket recipe for years and it never once has tasted the same, even though she uses the same ingredients every time.

So as I went through the process of making the first three pies, which I felt had more strict recipes, I decided that I didn’t like doing it that way. When I was making the Lemon Tartlets I kept waiting to make a mistake. I feel that anything with a crust is a blank canvas for each person to put on it what s/he feels like. Instead of reading some of these “recipes” as recipes, read them as tips, suggestions or guidelines. And of course, have fun!

Straight Up Blackberry Pie (For Zoë)

Sweet pie crust (from lemon pie recipe, your own recipe, or a box)

2-3 Small containers of  Blackberries

1 Lemon, Zested & Juiced


4-6 Tablespoons Butter

1-2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

More Sugar (of the powdered variety)

I asked both of my roommates what kind of pies they wanted me to make, Zoë requested blackberry pie, and so I made it for her on Pi day, which was subsequently the day before I went to Los Angeles for spring break.

Once your crust is made (or if it is store-bought and brought to room temp), pre-bake it so it is partially done.

Wash your blackberries well! Then put them in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice, grand marnier, and some sugar. You don’t want it to be too sweet, but use your own judgement. Maybe 1/8 cup sugar for every cup of blackberries, but probably less (if you can’t handle the tartness, then add more sugar). Mix all of the ingredients together, it’s okay if you smash some of the blackberries, and then transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have time to refrigerate, don’t fret, it will be fine, the flavors just won’t be as well blended.

Pre-heat the oven to 350º and transfer the refrigerated (and slightly smashed… double entendre) berries to the pie crust. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top for a kick of sweetness. The corn starch in the sugar should thicken up the liquid in the pie a bit as it cooks. Cut up the butter into small pieces and drop them about the surface of the pie.

Cook for 30-40 minutes or until the blackberries are bubbling. If the crust starts to burn around the edges, wrap the pie pan in foil (but don’t cover the center).

Cool and serve with some ice cream, or at least that’s what Zoë would do.

Love and Happy Spatulas,