Jennie & Mikey Perillo
There are those moments when you wish you could turn back time, and know what awaits you in the months, weeks, days, moments ahead. If you could only be fully conscious that a quick good-bye would be the last time you gazed at the one who makes your world complete, what would you say? What would you do over? How would you slow down time and savor that last cherished interaction so that it could somehow last you a lifetime? Questions I continue to ask myself, in light of those I’ve lost.
Last month, I received a note from my friend Jennie, a note that revealed tragic news, that has made my heart sink countless times – her husband, Mikey, had unexpectedly passed away while helping their daughter ride her bike. He told her he needed to sit for a moment, then keeled over from a massive heart attack. It was undoubtedly a nightmare of the worst kind- reality. I can’t put a silver lining on it, I know that in an instant her world changed.
In the time that has followed, she has shared her grief, frustration, fears and sorrow. Jennie also shared something special to Mikey. He loved for her to make his favorite Peanut Butter Pie. She held a tribute to him that was both impactful and heartwarming. On August 12th, everyone gathered in their respective hometowns and made Mikey’s favorite pie to support Jennie and their girls and share in his memory. This pie was photographed and shared on hundreds of blogs until an enormous ripple of pie had been felt. Mikey, a person whom many will never know, was cherished and thought about in an indescribable act of loving foodness.
I regrettably wasn’t able to join Jennie and her girls that day, but I watched as sites like CNN.com, Food Network, LA Times, Tastespotting and Foodgawker picked up Jennie’s story and tribute. I was touched by videos made by fellow food bloggers and funds that were set up to help their family. Mikey would have smiled to know that Jennie and their girls were thought about and loved with such an outpouring of pie stories, Facebook posts, and photos shared for her and for her true love.
While I am here to share with you Jennie’s Love Pie, I wanted to also share with you a piece of my love and affection for Jennie. I believe that the greatest gift you can give someone that has lost an important person in her life is thought – keeping his memory alive, sharing tears and stories and eventually laughter again. Jennie and Mikey were great together, they made a beautiful family together and he encouraged her to be the food blogger that she is today. I believe that this is only part of Jennie’s story, and I have a feeling that it will be this love that propels her to discover the next part of her story. I know Jennie is strong, and kind, and loving and that in time, she will laugh again and know that she is not alone even in a room full of people. Jenny this post is for you, to give you strength, as I watch and read you making all of Mikey’s favorite dishes, may you draw on all the good things that are surrounding you in this difficult time and know that you had what many can only hope to find. You had a very special love. Today I make your Love Pie, and share it with my blogger friends because stories shared are memories kept alive. #JennieLovePie
To learn how you can help me, help Jennie, please read to the end of this post.
Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice.Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.
Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. (photo cooking essay below)
This is where YOU can help. A few wonderful ladies founded a non-profit charity organization called Bloggers Without Borders, which helps people in need during crisis. Their first official project is called #AFundForJennie. The purpose of this project is simple – raise money to help Jennie with her bills as she painfully transitions to life as a widow and single mom. There are two ways to donate: (1) Click on the donate button below to contribute or (2) For every comment you share on Bowl Licker, I will donate to this fund. Share it and make me pay! “What can you say?” you ask. Comment if you’ve baked this pie, if you have some nice words for Jennie or just want to share your thoughts on this post. I’ve learned that blogging can make a difference but only when and if there are others reading your words. Thank you for reading!
Pie enjoyed with our friend Ava.