Laura Eaton was one of the first people my husband and I met when we moved to California six months ago. She immediately took away my nerves and made me feel comfortable in our new home. We began frequenting thrift stores together–and realized that we are thrifting soul mates, which is amazing. Not only that, but she is probably one of the coolest moms around. Laura and her talented graphic designer husband, Nate, have two girls and a newly adopted baby boy.
When I arrived at the Eatons, I was met with a hug and Laura exclaimed, “I love having you around here first thing in the morning!”. See what I mean? She just makes you feel good. Her little girls were a bit shy at first, but Laura informed me that Iris kept her spider man pj’s on just for me. And I’m glad she did…they are maybe the cutest things ever. We moved to the kitchen, where the sight of greenery in little glass vases where somebody decided to place their little paintbrushes made me smile.
Laura poured coffee and we chatted for a bit, and then got to work. She decided to make a cherry pie. Not just any cherry pie, mind you. Laura’s mom has made this recipe forever and it is perfect. As she patted out dough, her girls came in and out of the kitchen, sometimes stopping to help, other times in a cardboard box pretending to sail to Italy. (I’m not making this up.) They must have been inspired by Laura’s baking, because they asked us to take a quick break to visit the “outdoor kitchen”. The girls have a little play kitchen where they have packed away special containers that would otherwise have been discarded. From creamer bottles to pop bottles, their little treasures help them make pretend masterpieces. When I peeked through the window later that morning, Iris was outside by herself cooking up an imaginary storm.
Nate came in for a cup of coffee, holding little baby Everett and happily chatted with his wife. He handed off Everett, and Laura kept baking with one hand, as if she does this all the time. Baby Everett. snuggled into the crook of her arm, only stirring from his little nap when she jostled him.
As Laura gave bites of crumble topping to her girls and had them stir the batter and lick the bowl, she shared their Christmas traditions. “I remember feeling like the luckiest kid in the world when I was little, because my family got to open their presents on Christmas Eve,” Laura reminisced. She giggled about the way her grandmother would dump the wet ingredients to biscuits into a drawer of flour, knead it around a bit until it was soaked into a ball, and pull it out to begin baking.
Every Christmas season, the Eatons make a bread wreath. It’s a simple bread recipe, and when it comes out of the oven and is still warm, they push four candles into it and decorate it for an Advent wreath. It sits on their kitchen table for the month of December, and as a family they light a candle each week. Laura said this tradition was started by a relative living in South America. She wanted an Advent wreath, but couldn’t find any to satisfy, so Laura’s great-grandmother bought a ring of bread. Thus began the Eatons’ sweet tradition.
The pie baked, the girls went between snuggling baby Everett and playing imaginary games. Nate worked in the back room, and Laura chatted with me. When the timer rang, Addy and Iris sprang to their feet to “help” get the pies out of the oven, hoping for a bite.
Laura sent me home, warm pie in hand, grinning from fun time spent with her sweet, easy-going family. As for the pie? We devoured it. This cherry pie with crumble topping is no joking matter.
4 cups flour
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
dash of salt
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 can cherry pie filling
1 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.
For the crust: Mix the ingredients together with a pastry cutter. Roll out dough and separate into pans. Chill in the refrigerator while mixing filling and topping.
Mix the filling ingredients and gently stir until combined. Pour evenly into the pie pans. Bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to 325 and bake for 30 more minutes.
*While the pie bakes, mix together topping ingredients.
Pull pies out of the oven and place topping on them. If the edges are looking brown, wrap foil around the pie to protect from burning. Place pie back in the oven for 20 more minutes.
Makes 2-3 pies (depending on pan size)