limit herself to just one kind of baked good when a plethora
of goodies existed? She thought Pam a bit shortsighted when she opened her place.
But Pamela’s Pie Palace was very successful, proving DeeAnn wrong at every juncture.
When Pam had said she wanted to build it outside of town, on the mountain road between
Charlottesville and Cumberland Creek, DeeAnn had advised her against it.
“Folks aren’t going to go way out there for a slice of pie,” DeeAnn had said.
Pamela had just shrugged and had done what she wanted, anyway. She always had, from
DeeAnn was not a local, but she’d heard stories of Pam’s upbringing. Her rich daddy
had made sure she had everything she wanted. And she’d married one of the wealthiest
men in the state of Virginia, Evan Kraft, a horse breeder and racer. So she’d hired
an architect and designed the pie wedge–shaped building, lit up like a firecracker
against the rough and rugged Virginia mountains.
Still, as Vera pointed out from time to time, you had to hand it to Pamela. She had
enough money to be a lady of leisure, sitting at home or shopping or traveling, and
never have to lift a finger. Instead, she baked pies. Delicious, inspired pies.
DeeAnn admitted that a bit of friendly competition existed between her and Pamela.
The decision weighed on her: what kind of pie would she make? Fruit would be popular—and
it was deceptively hard to make. To have the right texture to your fruit was a challenge:
you didn’t want it to be too squishy, nor did you want it to be too firm. And so much
depended on the exact ripeness of the fruit. Though DeeAnn loved her fruit pie and
made a nearly perfect apple pie, she decided that too many unknown variables existed.
She wanted to win the competition.
“Why not a pumpkin pie?” Vera said to her at the last scrapbook crop. “Do something
a little fancy with it. Chocolate? Hazelnut?”
“Pumpkin is a little mundane,” DeeAnn replied.
“Oh, now, is it?” Sheila said in a mocking tone. “Excuse me.”
“Now, you know what I mean,” DeeAnn said as she clipped a piece of ribbon. “It doesn’t
really show off baking talent. Not like, say, an apple pie.”
“An apple pie?” Annie said. “Really? That one seems pretty simple to me.” She held
up a page and eyeballed it.
“Have you ever tried to make one?” Vera asked her.
Annie shook her head.
“If it’s from scratch, it’s tricky getting the texture of the apples just right. You
don’t want them overcooked. Nor do you want them undercooked,” DeeAnn said, setting
her scissors down on the table, where paper, adhesives, and a variety of embellishments
were strewn about. “And, of course, you wouldn’t use canned apples for a pie competition.”
Annie sighed. “I guess I’ll never win that competition.”
“Oh, Annie!” Vera said and laughed.
Everybody knew about Annie’s baking mishaps. She burned almost everything. The trouble
with Annie was she tried too hard to be efficient with her time. While she baked,
she went off and became engrossed in something else. Usually, it was her writing.
More than once the fire department had come racing to her place because of the smoke
billowing from her kitchen window.
“Well, you better make up your mind fast,” Vera said. “There’s not much time. When
is it? Next week?”
DeeAnn nodded. “If I can find some good apples, I might give the apple pie a try.
Maybe dust off my mom’s cheddar-apple pie recipe.”
She thought of her mom, young, setting a slice of the warm cheddar-apple pie in front
of her when she was a child. Her mom took great care in everything she baked or cooked.
Perfection. Those pies were masterpieces. Could she re-create it?
She frowned as she thought of her mom now. She’d love to call her and get her advice
on making the pie, but she was riddled with Alzheimer’s. Some days she seemed pretty