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Life's Lesson N° 8: Chicken Pot Pie And a Sobering Thorn

In full disclosure, I used to hate chicken pot pie. Do you know why? Because one time I was at my friend’s house in Missouri and her mother served us for dinner a frozen white trash grocery store Swanson’s chicken pot pie. She plopped it (still in the aluminum container) onto our 1970s TV dinner trays with a paper napkin and a Dr Pepper while we were watching the Brady Bunch. Or was that my own mother? Regardless, I was scarred for life. (Remind me to tell you about the time my mother served a meatloaf and I almost had a seizure… A seizure caused by disgust.)

Fast-forward to the year 2010, New York City. I was at one of my most favorite restaurants in all of New York, the Waverley Inn. The restaurant is in a residential neighborhood in my favorite part of New York, the West Village. It is housed in one of the brownstones that line the street. I discovered the restaurant while I was dropping my friend off at her psychiatrist’s office. Sometimes my friend would want me to go with her to her therapy sessions and I did because it was funny. It was funny because my friend sat there for an hour and completely lied to the therapist. I thought going to a therapist was one’s opportunity to freely “expose one’s wounds.” Not so, apparently. My friend just completely bullshitted the entire hour. I thought it was hysterical so I often went to watch the show. And that, my friends, is how I found the Waverley Inn and their famous chicken pot pie because everyone knows you have to eat after lying for an hour. You need to refuel! The restaurant ambience is sheer perfection. It was my second visit to the restaurant and I knew what I wanted… The truffle macaroni and cheese. I was at the restaurant with my parents (mid 60s) and their friend (late 60s) who is actually married to my very young friend (early 40s). Mr. Late 60s ordered the chicken pot pie. I secretly rolled my eyes and thought, “Gross. Old people food. Geriatric retirement home buffet food. Soft food for soft teeth.” Imagine my surprise when the waiter delivered the most delicious looking potpie I had ever seen. Because I have no boundaries, I asked Mr. Late 60s for a bite… For research. Again, imagine my surprise when all of my chicken pot pie PTSD dissipated bite by bite. Hallelujah Jesus I am born again! Chicken pot pie is no longer my mortal enemy thanks to the Waverley Inn.

Little Miss Gracie, surprisingly, is a fan of chicken pot pie as well. Actually, not surprisingly, because Gracie is a fan of any type of comfort food. Gracie would rather die than eat foie gras, carpaccio, any type of fish, 99% of all cheeses, or anything cooked “rare, medium or medium rare.” Gracie is a little old lady trapped in a stylish 19-year-old persona. I don’t know where she came from. I think she was adopted. I bet she wishes she were adopted in hopes of finding her “real family” one day. Anyway, little Miss Gracie has a teeny tiny ill-equipped Parisian kitchen with no stove. She has had to learn how to “make do.” Poor Gracie. A Parisian kitchen with no stove. Quelle horreur!!! Gracie relies on her handy-dandy toaster oven for just about everything. True to familial form, Gracie has mastered chicken pot pie… In her toaster oven. With the help of a muffin pan, Parisian rotisserie chicken, Monoprix grocery store pastry dough and frozen vegetables from Picard, Gracie’s chicken pot pie is the true definition of a hack job. A brilliant hack job. That’s my girl.

Okay, now for the secret chicken pot pie cook. Introducing Amy Mastrangelo. Amy was a former food editor at none other than my beloved Gourmet magazine. Meeting Amy (via my blog and email) was like meeting Beyoncé. Actually it was better. Never was there a time at my house nor my mother’s house when there was not a Gourmet Magazine on the kitchen counter, earmarked and well loved with a dusting of flour and most likely, a bit of raw egg. I was telling Amy that one of my worst memories is the day I found out my cousin, Julie, threw away my entire collection of Gourmet Magazines that I had stored in her garage for safekeeping. Needless to say, we no longer speak. But God works in mysterious ways because now I have a real true life food editor of Gourmet Magazine as my friend. Amy worked at Gourmet during its heyday in the test kitchen testing and developing recipes, styling food for photography, writing recipes, editing recipes and any other glorious event that a food editor had the luxury of doing. Dream job. Amy worked under editor-in-chief Jane Montant, who Amy says, “had impeccable style, taste and grace who would walk down the halls and say, “Who is cooking with gaaaaaaaaarlic?” Apparently, cooking with garlic was a no no in Ms. Montant’s eyes. Amy and I have spent the last few months talking about… You guessed it… Food. We even had an entire discussion about pinenuts because this is what life’s about! So, in honor of today’s blog, Amy has so generously offered us (I begged her) her famous chicken pot pie recipe! It’s as if Gourmet magazine is back!

 But first, let’s look at some secrets to the perfect chicken pot pie…

             make your own piecrust… It’s easy and fun

             don’t just use the piecrust for the top. Bottoms, sides and top is best

             don’t forget the herbs

             use a bit of dry white wine

             use frozen peas

             this is a great meal to freeze

             use full fat everything with chicken pot pie… Nothing dietary… Go big or go home

Okay, now let’s take a look at the recipes…

The Waverley Inn Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe HERE.
Mini Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe HERE.

Amy’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie. Recipe Below.
This is easy comfort food, a perfect one-dish dinner for a friend who’s under the weather, has a new baby, or just needs cheering up! Make ahead is easy and preferable--the filling actually tastes better given a day for flavors to meld. Accompany with a simple green salad and crusty bread, or gild the lily and serve with buttery mashed potatoes.
 Serves 6 to 8
For crust
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 oz cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¼ cup ice water
For filling:
4 pounds split chicken breasts (with skin and bone—either 4 large or 5 to 6 small)
Olive oil for drizzling
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped fine (@ 2 cups)
½ teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus additional to taste
½ cup all purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth, at room temperature
A 10-oz package frozen peas, preferably baby peas (about 2 cups)
6-7 medium carrots, peeled, sliced @ ¼ inch thick and steamed until just tender
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
whole milk or heavy cream for brushing pastry
Make crust: In a food processor combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and pulse to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some large pieces mixed in. In a small bowl with a fork stir together egg, vinegar and ice water. Sprinkle over flour/butter mixture and pulse just until large clumps of dough form, do not let dough come together completely into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring dough together to form a 6-8-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. (Transfer to a resealable bag if making 1 day ahead.)
Make filling: Preheat oven to 375 F. Place breasts skin sides up on a shallow rimmed baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in middle of oven 25 to 35 minutes (depending on size of breasts) or until just cooked through. Cool completely, discard skin and bones and cut meat into 1-inch pieces, reserving chicken juices remaining in pan.
In a large heavy saucepan cook onion in butter with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper over medium heat, stirring, until onion is very soft. Whisk in flour and cook over low heat, whisking, until flour just barely begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in stock in a stream, whisking until smooth, and bring sauce to a boil. Whisk in reserved cooking juices from chicken and simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in peas, chicken, carrots, thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to taste (make sure to use enough salt and pepper!).  Cool filling completely.
Assemble pie:  Butter a 13- by 9 inch deep baking dish and transfer filling to dish, spreading evenly. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry until slightly larger than dish and carefully transfer to cover filling. Fold edges of dough under to make a hem and crimp all around edge with a fork to seal. Brush dough lightly with milk or cream, cut a few vents in middle of pastry with a sharp paring knife and baking pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips) in middle of 375 F. oven 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is bubbling at edges.  Let stand a few minutes before serving.
NOTE: Both the filling and dough can be made a day ahead; pie then assembled and baked the next. The unbaked assembled pie can also be frozen, covered well with both plastic and foil. Defrost in refrigerator all day or preferably overnight before baking uncovered. (It might need to bake a bit longer in case the very center is not completely defrosted.)
 Voilà! Chicken Pot Pie mastered. Next up…hu hu hummus.

*Something you don’t know about me? When I was living in New York with Gracie (David was in LA working) in 2010, I lived exactly 3 blocks from my friend, Diandra, and her three children. She is like a sister to me so needless to say dinners at her house were mandatory. Gracie and I ate dinner at her house… Eight nights a week. :-). We walked out of our apartment on E. 68th St., hung a right onto Park Avenue, walked three blocks to the corner of 65th and Park and voilà, we were there. We never ate in Diandra’s formal dining room, we always had our dinners in the cozy little nook off of the downstairs kitchen. However, formal manners were required. Diandra’s three children were all under the age of seven at that time. Gracie was in 10th grade. Everyone was still ripe for some Emily Post table manners instruction. We were adamant about it. I admired the fact that Diandra refused to let the children say out loud after they had finished eating, “I’m done.” She preferred for them to say, “Thank you, I’m satisfied.” Hearing a little six-year-old girl say, “I’m satisfied” still, to this day, makes me crack a smile. However, this isn’t to say that our dinners were not fun. Quite the contrary. Every evening, without fail, we would engage the children with a brilliant game. The game was called Roses & Thorns. It was a game devised to get our children to talk, to communicate, to express themselves. There were no wrong answers and everyone could hardly wait for their turn, including the adults. The premise of the game was simple, Diandra would ask all of the children, “What is your thorn of the day and what is your rose?” This gave everyone a chance to get anything off of their chest that was bothering them (their thorn) and also an opportunity to relish on something positive (their rose). How brilliant is that! Since it was a therapy session wrapped up in a game, no one was too shy to express their feelings.… Including Gracie, believe it or not. After each person described their thorn and rose for the day, we all talked about it. Everything was on the table. Advice was given, giggles were had, sometimes tears were shed. The children also learned to understand that even the adults had their daily thorn and daily rose. We did this every night of the week! Needless to say, obviously, we have the most well-adjusted children on earth. :-) Just kidding, but I do honestly believe that giving ones children the opportunity on a daily basis, without sweeping anything under the carpet, to express their feelings whether they be a thorn or a rose in a safe, familiar environment without judgment, is the key to a happy child.
Obviously, as you can see from the following photos, our children have the utmost respect for dinnertime manners...

However, I must say that after I was diagnosed with ALS, Gracie shut down. No matter how many people have spoken to Gracie about my ALS, she will not discuss it. Therapists, counselors, “church people”, Yolanda, Jenny, my parents, my sister, David, Gracie’s father and even myself… She will not go there. Many well-intentioned people have told me that I need to keep trying but I know my daughter. I know that she knows “the situation” because I did not raise an idiot. This may come off to some people as Gracie being insensitive, aloof, reserved and even kind of a, dare I say… A b*tch. But I know the real truth… It’s called self-preservation. This is a pain so deep that we just need to keep it there... Where it is… Buried away. Forcing Gracie to talk about the fact that she drew the short stick when it comes to her mother’s longevity, is a cruel and unusual punishment. Like pouring salt on a wound. They always say that God does not give you anything that you cannot handle. I call bullshit on that theory. It may look like Gracie and I are handling this with bravery… But we are not. We are both wearing masks. In truth, we are walking around the streets of Paris with hearts that have actually been broken in half. Even that well-intentioned childhood game at Diandra’s could not prepare us for this pain. There is no rose with ALS. This thorn is too sharp.

How’s that for a happy blog? You’re welcome. :-)


  1. making chicken pot pie this wkend.. wait maybe im not, my mother is a cook to beat all cooks. I'll have her make Waverly's..heck she was born & raised in NYC yeah thats the ticket...thanks Ellie! xo

  2. Bless you! I had planned to make a chicken pot pie for my husband this Saturday for Valentine's Day. I had looked at several recipes just this morning - you saved me anymore searching. Leaning towards the "Waverly Inn" recipe. Thank you so much again! Barbara
    p.s. Sending love and light to you and Gracie.

  3. I'm so sorry you and Gracie are going through this.

  4. I swear that is my exact exact exact pie crust recipe. It must be hers I've been using all along! Which makes sense because I got it from the only other person in my family who cooked, my aunt. She was the biggest Gourmet fan. I miss that magazine so much. Ugh why did it even go under? no other food magazine has the authority and simplicity that Gourmet had. I loved it because the photography always looked like it was something real, made in a house, that was actually going to be eaten. I learned so much from it.
    I hate chicken pot pie but that's because I'm still living the nightmare trauma that was basically your story exactly. Maybe I will muster the courage to try it again.
    I don't think there is any room for judgment when it comes to ALS and the brutality it must project on to a family. I think there are some people who hunker down and push through times of crisis and feel very little until it's over. Not everyone can bear to analyze and dissect every detail while sobbing and grandstanding and spilling know, like me. It sounds like Gracie wants this time to be as 'normal' as possible so she spends it living with you rather than saying goodbye. I don't think that sounds incorrect at all. as if 'correct' even applied here.
    And have you checked that house to see that she didn't just steal your Gourmet archive? Because that's what I would have done. Yes, even knowing that you had ALS.

    1. Best cranberry sauce recipe ever came from that magazine ! I still make it, and it's a family favourite.


  5. I was happy reading this chicken pot pie post until the last paragraph, which brought tears to my eyes. (That's a crazy saying - where else would they be?). Anyway, it's sad . We all cope the best we can and Gracie's way must be working for her. Reaching across the ocean with caring for you both.

  6. The rose ��of today's blog "use full fat everything with chicken pot pie" The thorn was a dagger to my heart..your whole last paragraph. ��Sobbing in the room down the hall. I love both you and sweet Gracie!!! ❤️❤️ None of us are going to allow you to go anywhere!!

  7. Yes, of course it's self preservation. My heart goes out to you both. I have been diagnosed with cancer and I put off telling my girls for as long as was possible. When I did tell them, the look on their faces broke my heart. I am not a religious person but some time agoI passed a church and on it's notice board it said " I asked the Lord to lighten my load but he strengthened my shoulders instead". I quite liked that. Thank you for your blog. It makes my day. When I don't see it for some days, I worry about you. Kind regards, Deidre.

  8. YOUR WAVERLY INN looks enchanting................I caNOT believe YOU sat in on your friends SESSIONS......the DOC ALLOWED THAT??!!!How did you keep your composure..........??
    I loved the FROZEN POT PIES.......I even decided YOU were SWANSON PEEPS as everything is SWANSON's this or that in YOUR COOKBOOKS!!!!!WHY does it have to be SWANSONS BROTH...........NOW there is a chicken POT PIE from YOUR MAMA In the BOOK which I made a couple of times and loved it.......NEVER MIND I cannot eat the crust!!!!!!SO< THIS is better your telling US............I will try it out!My MAMA subscribed to GOURMET her whole LIFE too and gave it as Christmas gifts to some relatives.............FOREVER.I forgot to tell you I googled SWANSON's cause I thought you may be RELATED to the FOUNDER......I decided NO because of the location.Anyway, they came up with the first airline FOOD!!!!!DID YOU KNOW THAT??My Father was a FROZEN FOOD BROKER so thats about ALL we ate............chicken POT PIE I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!ALWAYS watching I LOVE LUCY at 7pm on Channel 2.Now, as far as YOUR GIRLFRIEND DIVINE Roses & Thorns.........that is TERRIFIC!I use to ask what was the BEST part of YOUR DAY at the dinner table with my family BUT THIS IS BETTER!I APPLAUD YOU DIANDRA.!!!!!
    NOW, this is a message for SHELIA.
    I GOT THE CARD for ELEANOR'S BIRTHDAY!!!!!If anyone else would like to send me a card for ELLIie's BIG DAY I need it by MARCH 1st...........OKAY.I have a small box headed HER way and can easily slip in a few more cards.............
    Please send to E. KIRKPATRICK 16 GLORIETTA COURT ORINDA, CALIF. 94563 Be certain to put ELEANOR somewhere on the card so I DONOT OPEN IT!Lets make HER DAY EXTRA SPECIAL..................WE all LOVE her BLOG so LETS CELEBRATE HER BIRTHDAY and send a card or a NOTE!!!
    AS for GRACIE and YOU.............YOU have GIVEN her the GIFT of this BLOG and YOUR WORDS, OPINIONS,and IDEAS................SHE will SOAR.............and YOU will BE there to GUIDE HER.

  9. I love a chicken pie, and use Jamie Oliver's recipe. Wine is key (but isn't that true of almost all cooking?). I've served it up for dinner with friends before too - I have a little pie bird I stick in the middle of the crust, so it looks quite festive. I had no idea people may have been scarred by horrible chicken pie experiences. I wonder if any of my guests were looking at the pie with horror before tucking in and finding out how delicious it was?
    I think Grace's reaction to your ALS is perfectly understandable. We all cope with things differently, and not everyone goes through the "appropriate" text book response with tears, talking etc etc. I also agree with you about that rubbish about God not giving you anything you can't handle. There are plenty of people that are a gibberish mess in the mental health system who prove that ridiculous saying wrong. Life can just deal you a bad hand sometimes, and people cope as best they can (or can't).
    Also love the story about the dinners and manners - this is my house every night. I am drilling my children constantly. I was at a (formal) lunch recently where one adult guest actually licked her knife. Up until then she'd looked quite ladylike with her designer bag and outfit etc... I was so horrified I've redoubled my efforts at home. It was like witnessing the end result of some sort of My Fair Lady slip up.

    1. Thanks for this, Heidi. i was bawling after posting here and was reading everyone else's comments, and the My Fair Lady reference made me laugh through my tears!

  10. Is there a way to buy you back your Gourmet mags on EBAY? ... separately Amy Mastroangelo is a beautiful person insight and out...I'm also so sad and sorry about ALS - I don't know what else to be but sad about that. I'm happy today you have Gracie and she has you...and David

  11. Can we all just vote Stephen as World's Best Commenter? Love him!

    We were one of those frozen TV dinner families. Since my mom didn't like to cook and just threw a bunch of stuff in a pressure cooker and called it "dinner", I was always a little relieved to be eating something familiar like a frozen dinner .Now I can't imagine eating one. I am so jealous of people who grew up with parents who cooked. But, through a series of chef-like boyfriends, I learned! Can't wait to try Amy's recipe. For my chicken pot pie I love to add tarragon. My favorite spice!

    My heart breaks for you and Gracie. From the way you've described your life with her, it's clear she's had about two lifetimes of good mothering compressed into 20 years.

  12. You and your delicious posts are my rose. xo

  13. I, too, have post-traumatic Swanson chicken pot pie disorder (PTSCPPD). The photo of the Waverly's offering has helped my recovery. Now I'll search for the Gourmet recipe or invent my own.
    I confess that I worry about you when I don't see a post. I can't imagine what your beautiful daughter goes through. I love her snark with you and think that her coping device delights you in some way. You are creating a fabulous legacy for your incredible daughter.

  14. Oh my, I was anxiously awaiting the chicken pot pot post. Ellie, you did not disappoint! Can't wait to try them all. Chicken pot pie is my ultimate comfort food, even though my only childhood exposures were only of the bad frozen variety. (My mother did not like to cook, nor was she good at it.)
    The thorn and the rose of the day is brilliant. Please thank Diandra for me. What a simple and lovely daily habit, whether with family or alone, and one I will adopt.
    I think I can relate to why Gracie chooses not to talk to anyone about your ALS, and understand the sharpness of the rose thorns. You and Gracie are both very much in my thoughts.

  15. I made the chicken pot pie tonite! I used the precooked chicken from the store and the puff pastry dough (the chickens from my little market are really good) We had a school event tonite so I had to make it quickly. It was delish!
    I can't tell you what your blog has meant to me,words limp and I am not good at putting them together but thank you and bless you!

    Take Care

  16. The rose of today's blog is that I am so happy to have "met" you and the thorn is that you have als. That thorn is very deep and you and Gracie have the right to deal with it in whatever manner makes the wound more bearable . At the end, we all wear the mask that we need to wear to make it through the day and survive.
    Love u Ellie thanks for reminding me what life is all about.

  17. Ellie, the rose of today's blog is that I "met" you and the thorn is that you have als. That is a very deep and painful thorn and you and Gracie have the right to deal with it in whatever manner that makes it a little less painful. We all wear different masks to make it through each day and survive.
    Thank you for always making me smile amd making me cry, for reminding me what life is all about.
    Love you girlfriend!

  18. Actually, you're right to say that, and I say thank you. You remind me every single day, (since I started reading your blog) that I have nothing to complain about. I will always be grateful to you for that. You are really something.

    Now, chicken pot pie...yes, please! I'm with Gracie...comfort food is one of the joys of life.

  19. People are funny with pastry in general and each preference for shortcrust vs flaky etc doesn't suit many people's palates and food limitations so I see people freak out a lot about pies. More for me.

    I don't know why people have an issue with garlic - for me it is one of the 5 things I would take on a desert island.

    I am not one for platitudes. Drives me nuts. BS like "everything happens for a reason..." or "karma will sort it out".

    I think we have become indoctrinated to think that talking about everything is healing. For some it is a Pandora's box and better left that way. Gracie seems old school and is the keep calm carry on type. Her kitchen reminds me of Rachel Khoo - do you know her? She had that one table restaurant in her 4th floor walk up after she gave up a good job and au paired in Paris while attending Cordon Blue? Makes everyone realize you don't need an island and a range to cook.

  20. A beautiful blog, as always. Thank you for sharing. This is one of those times in life all we can do is to bear witness to another's pain; words are useless. We can't know your pain and daily (seemingly! insurmountable struggles), all we can do is make sure our hearts are open to witnessing yours. xob

  21. ps…where the hell are all the good pine nuts? We only see pine nuts from China these days! Yikes!

  22. Ellie,
    I shut down when my father got sick and died in my teens, and I wasn't lucky enough to have him writing a fabulous blog showing how much he understood me. I felt so much guilt for so long, thinking he didn't understand me and might have thought I didn't love him enough. As an adult and parent, I am much more forgiving of myself, but I still feel awful that I wasn't more supportive of him and his cancer. I'm so glad Gracie has a mom who puts her love and understanding of her daughter in beautiful, lasting, loving words. She's blessed to have you, even tho your effing disease is a rotten, horrible thing. Love and gratitude, Sydney from Charlotte

  23. Dearest Ellie, In this walk with Gracie you are giving her the gift of strength, love, motherhood, laughter and as much love in this life that is possible for any single person to give. It is this love that will survive and be present forever. Thank you for these gifts to me, as well. Mary

  24. I found your blog a few days ago via David Foster's instagram and have been working my way backwards in time post by post. You are frickin hilarious and smart and so so beautiful.

    I looove the West Village (lived there when I was pregnant, but moved to Brooklyn so the baby could have a real nursery instead of living in the walk in closet) There's no better place to take a stroll during the spring time and I miss all the old, snobby west village residents who would definitely roll their eyes if I walked into their restaurant with my Cadillac of a pram.

    My college roommate would always eat at the Waverly with her parents when they were in town because the managing partner, Emil Varda, are good friends. Damn her for never inviting me because I love chicken pot pie!!!!!!!

    And finally... the last paragraph of this post... shit. I mean... I'm in tears. My baby is 3 months old. Just imagining a minute of the pain that you live with makes it difficult for me to breathe. And yet you write with wit and delight and I think you are a grande dame.

  25. My husband loves chicken pot pie and I have made it for him on several occasions. I use The Barefoot Contessa's recipe...ultimate comfort food....Gracie has the right idea.
    Roses and Thorns sounds very much like what we played at the dinner table but we called it highlights and low lights...sometimes my husband and i were quite shocked at what our children told us...rather like when you are driving a car full of kids to a school field trip and they are chatting with each other telling all kinds of tales and they forget that there is an adult in the front seat listening intently!
    Masking one's pain when we are out and about in the world is how we get through the days in times of extreme stress...I hope that you and your daughter have many roses today.

  26. You are such a fine writer, Ellie...I just wish that some of what you write was fiction, you know?

    But thank you for everything about this post. Ok, from the sadness I feel working backwards? You truly did bring out the Big Guns for Chickie Pot Pie as promised. Kapow! And now this lazy cook may just have to make this happen because I think it is a pretty safe bet that my Frenchman has never had it, a crime against humanity if ever there was one.
    But also? "Hang a RIGHT on to Park?" Niiiice.
    Gracie being an old lady trapped in a 19 year olds body? I can see that!
    "Soft food for soft teeth" made me laugh hard and still does every time I read it.
    And finally? Bring on the hummus, girl, bring it on. *cue West Side Story rumble music here*

    Sending so much Love to you Ellie, now and everyday...

    PS. Speaking of music, if it is as gray in Paris today as it is here, you might want to listen to FIP radio as they are doing a special with France Culture and it is lovely...

  27. I am not much of a cook, but this truly make me want to get out some flour and achieve the perfection of Amy's chicken pot pie.

    My mother died when I was 10 (many years ago). No one talked about her with me after that. I don't know why. Maybe it was too hard for them, but I was left feeling like she never existed. Yes, tell all of the well-intentioned people to just be there when Gracie needs them and to talk to her about everything she wants to talk about then.

    Happy Valentine's Day.

  28. LOVE chicken pot pie and I started with the Swanson's as well AND the Brady Bunch too! Just had to say that I lost my mom in high school to a very long, drawn out breast cancer. Never said a word to anyone but my very best friend. Could hardly talk to my mom even because I couldn't deal with it. I am a very well adjusted adult (but not sure if my precious husband would say the same!) Children deal with it better than the moms who are sick. You are such a wonderful engaging mom--Grace is just dealing with it the best way for her. Keep your crazy humor and she will be fine. I do believe that God doesn't give us more than we can handle if we turn to him and I don't know anyone who has handled a horrible illness any better than you! Seriously. Lots of love to you!!

  29. I have a chicken pot pie in the oven as we speak.
    I am so so sorry for the necessary but terrible masks and deep thorny pain...does Gracie journal it out? Maybe she can consider writing for herself, nothing to share with the outside world, but words scribbled out just for her own release.

  30. Follow-up: I made Amy's recipe for Valentine's Day dinner. Filling was beyond fabulous - however my first attempt at making crust sucked. I think I over-worked the dough. Not flaky at all. However, I was terrified to try so this hang-up is now out of the way. Any tips would be most welcome. Next up, chicken soup! Desperate for some right now, freezing on East Coast. Thanks for posting these recipes! Barbara

  31. Mercy, what Heather said-- you are a terrific writer, just wish it were fiction. Gracie is addressing her grief in the most perfect Gracie way. Children often have wisdom beyond their years in these circumstances. The two of you make a great fit.

    Reading backwards from hummus, and did I ever know how many people made. chicken pot pie? Yummy stuff in pastry shells is a pretty faIr response to whatever cries out for comfort.

    I used travel to NYC, 2000-2009; should have bumped into you and Gracie on the way to Diandra's for dinner. I often stayed near St. Vincent Ferrer, the church with the Most Incredible stained glass windows, at 65th and Lexington. If the NY cold snatched my breath, I would duck into Cambridge Chemists and lose an entire hour. Never made it to the Waverly Inn, and next trip I will make that a destination. Thank you for your tips, memories and precious insights about life.