How A Pie for Mikey Made A Birthday for Bentley Perfect

posted in: Cooking, Sweet | 36

When Jennie Perillo instructed us to “make a peanut butter pie and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there is no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on” I complied. Jennie lost her husband Mikey to a sudden heart attack a week ago and this was his favorite pie. I don’t know her very well, but I’ve felt her charismatic character around the blogging universe and she’s always struck me as plucky and up for anything. In fact, Jennie was all slated to be a Nudie Foodie with the rest of us until unforeseen circumstances kept her from her photo shoot, which goes to show she’d be baking a pie for someone else right now if they needed it.

I decided to focus on the part of Jennie’s directive “share it with someone you love,” because this is my baby boy Bentley Danger’s birthday week and I can think of nothing better than peanut butter pie to help commemorate it. I need to stop calling him my baby- he’s three now, and lives wholeheartedly up to his middle name.

In our house we have no shortage of hugs- I have long-savored his tiny-but-muscled arms squeezed around my neck, even if it’s just to butter me up into giving him a lick off the chocolate mousse whisk. But I gave him extra hugs this week- to the point that he got squirmy and I held on tighter, wishing time would stand still and he would be my baby forever. But as Jennie said, today is the only guarantee we can count on, so I strive to make every today the very best today Bentley could have, even if it’s at the expense of work, this blog, or the trivialities of life.

I can only hope that at the end of a very long journey on this gorgeous earth, I will have the opportunity to reflect back on my years. I am sure I won’t dwell on how many degrees I earned, book deals I got, or accolades from fancy journalists I received.

Instead, my heart will swell from those who have touched it in extraordinary ways- my parents, my husband, my child, and so many of you reading this who I love, both near and far, both met and unmet, for nowadays a community made possible by the wonders of technology and social media is no less a community. In fact sometimes it’s stronger. As with the #apieformikey campaign. Today there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people making a pie to lift Jennie and her two girls up and help them celebrate the life of a wonderful daddy and husband. That, my friends, is community.

For Bentley’s birthday I had planned to roast s’mores with the kids in our outdoor fire pit. I made marshmallows- nectarine and vanilla. I made Nancy Silverton’s graham crackers from her book, Pastries from the LaBrea Bakery. If you’ve ever yearned for graham crackers that taste just like they did when you were a kid, but Nabisco’s cardboard confections always seem to fall short, seek out Nancy’s recipe. I will never eat store-bought again. I was worried about the candles, though. Where do you stick candles on a s’more? The peanut butter pie came along at just the right time, although I, like everyone else baking one, sure wish it hadn’t.

I have been mentally under-the-weather the past few weeks. It’s that pesky, “what am I doing with my life” stuff. I sure appreciate technology and progress, but have to wonder if people living in hunter-gatherer societies ever worried about the inflated dramas of the human spirit. I’m pretty sure the question- what am I doing with my life?- was probably answered with- making sure you and your family have enough to eat and not getting killed in the process.

But because modern conveniences afford us the luxury of excessive self-evaluation, we’re always looking to become superhuman versions of ourselves. I am struggling with how much time I devote to ephemeral things, sometimes at the expense of what really matters, which, in this case is making sure I’m there for my rapidly-growing and very likely only child, Bentley.

His birthday week snapped me out of my funk and instead of tackling his party with the tenacious diligence of an apt student of Thomas Keller like last year (I made seven courses from the French Laundry for a toddler party- what was I thinking?) I decided to make things Bentley would actually like and be able to pronounce. His favorite cuisine is Mexican food, so I made beans, rice, and a can’t-quite-help-myself sous vide version of pork carnitas. There was a piñata. It was a rainbow, of course, a token of significance for the wedding between his two uncles we hope to attend next year in New York.

The children, and the children in us all, made their s’mores. I ate two. I sent the kids home with goodie boxes filled with silly toys, but I did not forget the adults. They got airline-sized bottles of Sauza Hornitos and all the necessary accoutrements to make Cadillac margaritas. Because if you’re going to make parents gamely-attend toddler soirees, at least you can send them off with a useful parting gift.

But I was selfish this year. I reserved one rendition of “Happy Birthday” just for Bentley and me. That was the one with Jennie’s pie. Which I converted to a vol au vent, because in my weeks-long funk, I made A LOT of puff pastry. Sometimes a girl needs to knead. I filled the puff pastry vol au vent with peanut butter cream and sung quietly, tearfully, to my baby who is now, by all counts, officially a little boy. When he blew out his candles with the haste of an excited toddler, I made a wish on his behalf. Then I whispered it to him, even though I know you’re not supposed to tell. It had to do with years. Many, many love-filled years together.

share, bitches...

36 Responses

  1. I’ve desired to write something similar to this on my webpage and this has given me a concept. Cheers.

  2. Sommer J

    You are amazing. Beautiful post- happy birthday, Bentley! And 3 is still a baby in book! I hope Jennie enjoyed this post. Her situation made me think about my own life and how to handle everyday frustrations…what a remarkable woman. Lovely pie and party

  3. Hang on to all that is beautiful! You are, and so is this post. Thank you!

  4. Lovely tribute and birthday celebration. Bentley is gorgeous!

  5. Bravo Linda,

    Words can not say how proud I am of you..


  6. Tear, sniff sniff… quite touching. Happy 3 to Bently! My Deklyn turns 1 tomorrow! Im just in awe that my baby is now a little boy. Love you Linda~

  7. Stefania

    Ciao Linda,
    How touching…it was so nice to hear your voice and catch up with J. Grazie mille to you both and Buon Complenno a Bentley! xo, S

  8. God Linda, you made me bawl my eyes out! I am there with you in so many ways and you are right, those little ones – likely our only little ones – are growing so fast and changing so quickly. I can’t wait for Lulu to wake up so I can give her another hug, a bigger longer one! XOXO

  9. Happy birthday to your baby boy….and I totally understand the ‘what am I doing with life’ funk. I’m in one. Every year around this time (my birthday) I freak. What have I accomplished? What’s next? Who am I making proud? Do I make enough money? With everything that has happened in the last week, I’m try to not freak out anymore and just let life happen. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. Right now:)

  10. Happy Birthday Bentley Danger! Keep growing tall and and with a strong appetite for beans, rice and silliness. You are very loved :)

  11. Happy birthday to your beautiful Bentley. Thank you for sharing your heart in this deeply moving post.

    Linda Reply:

    @Paula, I told Bentley happy bday from you and he sent you a hug vicariously through me.

  12. Nothing quite like our children to bring out the softer side in all of us…and yours does show (though I’ve always known!).

    The party looks perfect for your baby (as long as you want you get to say that…my baby is 27) and your version of the PB pie is beautiful.

    This was a true love story; thank you for sharing.

    Linda Reply:

    @Barbara | Creative Culinary, So happy to have validation that I can still call him my baby- it’s going to be really hard to learn anything else.

  13. You are a good mommy and I love you for all the amazing things you do. I want to be like you when I grow up…. Oh wait. I am already old… Hmmm.

    Linda Reply:

    @Janis, Hahahahaha- I really can’t wait for us to finally meet and cause all sorts of trouble.

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  15. […] Butter Pie – Created by Diane #pieformikey – Kitchen Raised How a Pie for Mikey Made a Birthday for Bentley Perfect – Salty Seattle Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey (and Jennie Too) – Food in Jars A Pie for Mikey – […]

  16. Wow, such a sweet & heartfelt post, my love. I dont know Jennie, but her situation and @apieformickey really struck me this week. Great post and happy birthday to Bentley, looks like mama put together a great 3rd bday party for him ;) xoxo

    Linda Reply:

    @Emme @Food Samba, Love you, lady, xoxo

  17. Happy birthday Bentley. This is so heartfelt and so beautiful. Your family is gorgeous. I love how much life you all have together and the beauty that comes from your love for one another. I wish you all a wonderful long life together with all the happiness in the world.

    I love birthday celebrations, they really show how much you can care about people that touch your life.

    Thank you for letting me into your life.

    Linda Reply:

    @Kimberly (unrivaledkitch), thank you for coming in, and especially thank you for such an eloquent, sincere comment.

  18. I was able to be there at Mikey’s memorial yesterday, and Jennie said to me that at some point around 3am the night before, she’d gone through Twitter, on her phone, sitting on her kitchen floor, reading all of the posts from people talking about making this pie.
    This is a beautiful, beautiful post. And you have a beautiful little boy. And I am so glad that you are able to take the message of appreciating every little day, every single today, and making them the best. I feel like that is the best we can all hope to take from this crazy, horrible loss.

    Linda Reply:

    @Josie, I agree- it’s wonderful she moved so many people with one simple request.

  19. Such a touching post, shed some tears reading it. To many more lovely years to come for you.

    Linda Reply:

    @myFudo, All these beautiful comments are making me cry again;)

  20. […] Butter Pie – Created by Diane #pieformikey – Kitchen Raised How a Pie for Mikey Made a Birthday for Bentley Perfect – Salty Seattle Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey (and Jennie Too) – Food in Jars A Pie for […]

  21. Cheers to Mikey. Cheers to Bentley and Linda. Keep up the great work.

    Linda Reply:

    @Peter, thank you.

  22. Thank you for sharing Linda – honest, heartfelt and full of love … I welled up reading it.

    Linda Reply:

    @Lilian, I really appreciate it, thank you.

  23. […] the original post: How A Pie for Mikey Made A Birthday for Bentley Perfect | Salty … Posted in Bentley Tags: bentley, birthday, mikey, mikey-made « Marcus Bentley to […]

  24. lovely post, delectable twist on a pie..and Bentley is a trip!

    Linda Reply:

    @Kathy Gori, my little monster trip. I’m a total weepy mess this week- your comment welled up fresh tears.

  25. I love:

    1. How focused he is when reading his birthday card.
    2. That you made a 7-course dinner from The French Laundry for a toddler’s birthday party.
    3. The peanut butter vol au vent – it wouldn’t be Salty Seattle-ish otherwise.
    4. Your cool party gifts for parents.
    5. That you really opened your heart in this post.

    May you have more love-filled years together with those you love than those ‘What am I doing with my life’ moments – it’s a first world problem, for sure.

    Linda Reply:

    @Danielle, I am so glad you love those things- it’s always hard when you put yourself out there a ton, you know? Very nice to know it resonated and that I’m not too insane. xx, L

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