In honor of the holiday season here's a short Christmas story with the two main characters of my Mall Fairies series and a fantastic tofu pumpkin pie recipe following (best pumpkin pie ever). Enjoy!
SWOOP'S ZIPPY GIFT
Swoop flew through the corridors of the just closed Sprite Mall. Her stomach rumbled as her nose filled with the aroma of pumpkin pie. The Cookie Lady always baked her signature tofu pumpkin pies and gave out slices to the last minute Christmas shoppers on Christmas Eve. At first, Swoop went "eww" at the thought of tofu and pumpkin—until she tasted a bit. Creamy. Yummy.
She scolded her errant tummy with "Shop first, eat later."
She paused and hovered at every display window, then shook her head and flew to the next. Nope. Nothing there for a one-winged fairy in the next store either. She bit her lower lip and flapped her white wings in slow arcs. It’d been easier when they were first Toddle Wings and their folks got the little toys for them to exchange. But now she and One Wing were both 13 years old. And last year One Wing got her a gorgeous flying jacket in Flight Instructor Green. She’d gotten him a pencil. Okay, it was tough to find one of those tiny, tiny pencils, usable for a five-inch fairy, but still—lame.
She stopped at the Tiki Hut Travel window. The humans in the Idaho mountain town of Sprite loved to “get away” to warmer climes after the holidays. They spent the holidays selling stuff to other humans, those who loved to come to snow country. Swoop would never understand humans. Huge posters showed the various warm destinations. She stared at the central one while synapses sparkled in her mind. Now, she knew the perfect gift.
* * *
Swoop dithered. While she waited for One Wing, she checked her construction once, twice and again and again. Checked the line where it stretched from the second floor balcony around the central court, past the two story poinsettia display, down to the bottom of the support pillar on the first floor. Checked the eyelet and string handles she’d spent the last few nights making. It would work. But where was her best friend? Much later and there’d be no time for his gift. The Toddle Wings would be getting up and racing to the bottom of their Christmas trees to see what Santa had brought. Days ago, she’d told One Wing to come to the second floor balcony before dawn for his Christmas present. She’d gotten up an hour earlier. She yawned.
“Don’t you know Santa won’t come if you don’t sleep?” a familiar voice interrupted her mid-yawn. One Wing.
She snapped her mouth shut as a horrid thought came to her. What if he hated his present? What if he thought she believed him a cripple and was taking pity on him? So not true, One Wing got around the vast-to-fairies mall a lot better than the rest of the fairies. Often Swoop forgot he was missing a wing and couldn’t fly.
“Since I got up so early, where’s my gift?” One Wing asked.
Worried and unable to think of what to say, Swoop pointed at the line.
“This is it? Um, great,” One Wing said. “What is it?”
“It’s a zip line,” Swoop said. At One Wing’s blank look, she explained, “You grab the handles,” she picked up the handles in either hand, “and leap off the balcony and then you’ll zip on the line down to the first floor.”
She looked over at her friend, whose mouth stood wide. “Um, I didn’t mean—” she started to apologize when he snatched the handles and leaped on the balcony railing. He looked over his shoulder at Swoop. “Best Christmas gift ever, thanks!” Then he jumped off the railing, single wing held straight out. He laughed the whole way down, so loud it echoed.
So happy it made Swoop’s heart sing. Best Christmas gift ever.
TOFU PUMPKIN PIE
1 (16-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar OR 1/2 cup (real) maple syrup
1 (10- to 12-ounce) package silken soft tofu, extra firm works best
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 (9-inch) pie shell
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Process the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend the pumpkin and sugar. Thoroughly mix in tofu, and spices (allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves). Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 45-60 minutes (check for firmness at 45 minutes. Chill and serve.