The Deep, Dark Mushroom Surprise
(Page 2 of 2)
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``You're right, Emma,'' I said. ``But what's this little `w' mean? And how come there's a space between `make a pie' and all the rest?''
Emma shook her head. ``W'' is Mom's way of writing `with.' I'm not sure why there's a space, but she said to do what was on the note, and make a birthday pie's the only thing to do with the ingredients.''
``Oh,'' she continued, ``have you seen my sisters? We want the pie to be a surprise.''
``I saw them in their bathing suits out back.''
``Good,'' Emma said. ``Probably working on their tans.''
She emptied the basket of mushrooms into the sink and told me to wash them while she got out the rest of the things - a large metal pie tin and an electric blender.
``Put the mushrooms in the blender,'' Emma said. ``All except three big ones. We'll save those for decoration.''
I did as she said, then watched her add the rest: raspberry yogurt, orange slices, a brown banana, a whole container of cream, lemon juice, a pickle, horseradish, mustard, salt, and a spice called oregano.
``Emma,'' I said, ``it didn't say to add those things.''
She was scratching her chin.
``I know,'' she said, frowning. ``But except for the yogurt, I couldn't find the other stuff. There's no heavy cream, only light. Horseradish is sort of peppery. In place of dill I used a dill pickle. An orange and a banana were it for fruit. Oh, and the lemon. Forget asparagus, it's not there.''
``What about the mustard?'' I asked.
``Well,'' she said, ``I've seen people put mustard, salt, and oregano on mushrooms. Other spices, too. Only I forget which ones, so I added those for taste. Have a smell.''
She held the now-full blender under my nose. Mostly it smelled like that horseradish stuff I'd never eat and the lemon. You could smell the pickle, too.
Something told me we'd messed up. ``But didn't the note say....''
``Here goes,'' Emma said.
She switched on the blender and pushed buttons until it made a high-pitched whine, like a baby who wants to be fed. The mixture turned a brownish red, probably because of the raspberries.
Next, Emma poured the syrupy goop into the pie tin, filling it to the brim. She sliced what was left of the mushrooms and placed them on top in the shape of a `16,' her sisters' age-to-be. She covered the pie with some silvery foil, made space for it inside the freezer, and, careful not to spill, put it in.
``It'll be hard by tomorrow,'' she assured me.
I wasn't so sure.
Then, about to wash the blender in the sink, she stopped. ``Have a taste?'' she asked.
She could see I had my doubts. My face was a wrinkle.
``Be brave,'' she said. ``Cooks have to try.''
The two of us used our fingers to scoop out a liquidy glob. I took a deep breath and put a drop or two on my tongue, while Emma did the same. ``Yeetch!'' we both said at the same time. Together our mouths puckered.
The taste? Imagine eating the sweat from someone's gym shoes, lumpy dishwater, and wet cat food all rolled into one.
``Happy birthday, teenies,'' I said.
We both started laughing.
``But the note....'' Emma said, out of breath.
Where was it? There, on the floor. I picked it up - ``make bd pie w mushrooms'' - then by chance turned it over. ``Er ... Emma. Better look at this.''
She did. On the back of the note it said:
``Emma, clean your room. Don't forget to vacuum. Love, Mom.''
We gave each other a look good friends know.
``Invite me over when you cut the pie tomorrow,'' I said, just as the back door banged open and in came the sisters in their bathing suits.
``Hey, you two,'' one of them said. ``What's for lunch?''
Emma, with a big grin, said to me, ``Why wait till tomorrow?''
Then I headed for the freezer.