There are slim pickins’ in my little corner of the pie world. A case of apples taunting with the word organic are tired and gnarled, almost as depressing as the incessant rain pounding against the cracked skylight above my workbench. Last week’s pears remain about as flavorful as the wooden crate they rode in on. Despite my daily glaring and prodding, they are unmoved, refusing to ripen. Change is hard but the pears are harder. They should be ready around Valentine’s Day.
A stack of pie shells doze in the freezer, amidst five pound bags of wild blueberries offering more color than flavor. The tiny berries cannot stand alone in pie and are best left to crumb-topped coffee cakes. Ziploc bags busting with chopped cranberries are frosty beneath a veil of freezer burn. I haven't the heart to pair them with the organic apples. I shift my attention from freezer to walk-in.
Pie options are limited to a case of lemons, one of oranges, and bottles of tart-tongued key lime juice. Key lime wins, with lemon a close second. The oranges are better suited to cakes, rarely associated with pies, although their fragrant zest is a welcome addition to the pies of summer and anything cranberry. Two of winter’s brightest additions haven’t crossed the walk-in threshold; fragrant Meyer lemons remain elusive and grapefruit never makes the cut. It’s such a shame, because Meyer lemons with their floral sweetness, and grapefruits with their sweet and sourness provide the perfect antidote to the drab, gray of winter.
Disengaging from a cavernous Cambro tub filled with graham cracker crumbs mixed with sugar and melted butter, I toss my slightly used apron in the laundry bag. Braving the steady downpour, the car knows its way to Trader Joe’s. Paying careful attention to any and all display items likely to come crashing to the ground as I breeze past, I navigate my shopping cart towards the produce aisle. Wandering amongst the bright pyramids of citrus, I pretend I’m on vacation. Grabbing a bag of Cara Cara oranges and a handful of small but respectable pink grapefruits, I totally bypass the pears, without so much as a sideways glance. I know better.