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The story continues at the end of August. (We’re catching up, slowly, we are.) It was a Sunday. I flew back home from a trip to Pennsylvania and New Jersey and landed at about one in the afternoon, California time. I already had friends in town; they’d beat me. About an hour later, Emily and I were heading three hours into the desert to pick up Matt, Paul, and Amanda; they’d finished hiking the John Muir trail the day before. Destination: Lone Pine.

(This is Emily. We took her to the Pacific Ocean for the first time later in the week, and she was really cute about it.)

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We drove through some incredibly boring stretches where we said to ourselves why would anyone live here? And we also saw a farm proudly selling multiple kinds of jerky, stunning red rock cliffs, and a desert thunderstorm, which was eerily beautiful.

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Everyone was tired when we got home. The washing machine got to work, and in the meanwhile there was a funny period of time where everyone wore Levi’s clothes.

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Along with showers, clean clothes, and sleep, the hikers needed one more thing to complete their recovery process: food. Pie.

To go along with the wilderness theme we’ve got going on here, I had recently acquired a jar of bear lard from Northern California. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details…in fact, I don’t even know them. Just know that if someone asks you, hypothetically, if you would use bear lard in a pie crust, and you say yes, you can safely expect that the situation won’t be hypothetical for long.

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I hadn’t made lard pie pastry before, due mainly to the fact that I don’t really trust whatever kind of lard can be bought at the supermarket.

I guess that kind of mentality is exactly how I end up with products made from bears.

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Not to be gross, but the smell of the stuff when I opened the lid of the jar was a bit disconcerting. Like, yeah. It smelled strongly like an animal. Which I suppose makes sense. I made everyone else smell it, and I couldn’t get a consensus on whether or not to use based on smell alone. But, lest this bear die in vain, I decided I needed to carry on. I’m glad I did. Not only did the smell and taste disappear entirely once the pie was baked, but the crust was incredibly soft and flaky. Quite different from the results of using butter, but in a very pleasant way.

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I didn’t use a recipe for the filling in this pie; I had lots of pluots from my in-laws’ tree (along with bear, another truly Californian ingredient) and mixed them with blueberries.

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I wish my back patio could always look like this.

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