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  • Writer's pictureKaren L Kurtz

Bake It Forward

Updated: May 20

It was the ‘70’s. I was learning adulthood by necessity (as most of us do.) My family, who would have gladly helped out with the little things that exhaust young mothers, lived six hours away. One learns to form a makeshift family with friends, instead. Not that any of us had depth of experience to offer each other. My sense of it was that we were all bumbling through parenthood together. Whatever we recalled from childhood was the standard by which we measured our own attempts at parenting. We either repeated that ‘remembered’ model or rebelled against it, vowing to do better.

Maybe we were lucky to not have Google planting the notion of “super-parenting” in our minds. How can anyone live up to that expectation? Our Obi-wan Kenobi of the day (Dr. Benjamin Spock) was telling us, “Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.”

Sometimes I believed that, but there were other times when I was overwhelmed. I had taken a hiatus from teaching to be at home with my toddlers. To make ends meet I started a licensed day care in our home, which I discovered was infinitely more difficult than teaching a classroom of 35 third graders. The first kid was dropped off at 6:30 in the morning and the last left twelve hours later. There were no breaks. Ever. And it was isolated living out of town with few people nearby.

When my doorbell rang one day, I was surprised to greet Helen. She was older than my mother and lived down the road. I knew her only well enough to wave if I happened to be pushing a stroller by her place when she was tending her perennials. She handed me a pie and said she thought we may enjoy it with our dinner. I could hardly find words for the gratitude I felt.

She made light of her thoughtfulness. “Oh, it’s for no particular reason. I remember how it was when my kids were young. Bake something for someone else sometime.”

That was a sentiment I’d heard more than once from my parents’ generation. It acknowledged the indebtedness I was feeling without the expectation for something in return. But the essence of the gift had not reached its final destination either. It had a living flow of energy that went beyond the initial giving. It was up to me to give to another, just as I had been given. Sometime. I loved that there was no “best before” date for passing the kindness on. That was the beauty of the word, "sometime."

It was the most delicious fresh peach pie I’d ever had. And later when I got to know Helen better, she shared the recipe*. Every year I can hardly wait for the freestone peaches from the Niagara region to ripen. Whenever I get out my 50-year-old recipe card for peach pie I think of Helen. I still feel gratitude to her for that random act of kindness. I’ve taken to heart her suggestion that I bake it forward. I delight in baking an extra pie occasionally to share with someone else for no particular reason. All the better if it’s someone with a young family. Because I remember how it was when my kids were young.

I've read about an old tradition of having a beloved recipe engraved on one's tombstone. This did not happen in Helen's case, but I could see how it would have been a fine tribute. I’m sure she would have approved of me sharing her fresh peach pie recipe with you. A good recipe should be shared for others to enjoy.

And if you love it, bake it forward.


~K L Kurtz

*Helen’s Fresh Peach Custard Pie

Cream together:

½ c. sugar [Original recipe called for 1 c. sugar]

1.5 TBS flour

Pinch of salt [be generous]

1 TBS butter

1 egg

Pour custard mixture over fresh sliced peaches on an unbaked crust.

Add top crust, cutting vents in the top.

(Many custard pies are open-faced, but this uses a top crust.)


425° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° Continue baking approx. 45 minutes more.

(The custard will bubble out of vents of the top crust and start to turn golden when the pie is fully baked.)

  • TIPS:

  • This pie is best with fresh peaches, but it also works any time of the year with canned peaches (w/o syrup), drained.

  • Be kind to yourself. Ready-made and gluten-free crusts work well. Here in Canada, we have Tenderflake frozen crusts, and they are great with this recipe.

  • Eat your first piece while it’s still warm!


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