I apologize in advance for bragging, something I do here only rarely. But my Mom taught me to make pie and now I make pies. It’s a beautiful thing, and there are lessons to be had.
I’ve made two in fact. Here’s the first, with Granny Smith apples inside.
If you want the recipe, just roll the blog clock back a decade to August 2006, when I recorded my mother’s narration. A lot of wisdom packed into six minutes or so of lousy but appealing audio.
We visited her again this spring and I took a more intense lesson with hands-on and copious textual notes.
The second pie was rhubarb from our own back yard; I cranked up the sugar a bit because rhubarb; fortunately not too much and it was still tart. Here’s a piece; the picture suggests the flavor sensation:
Pie supplies · You need equipment and technique to make pie. Specifically, a pastry cloth and dough blender. The first provides a surface to roll the crust out on, and then you use it to flip the crust over the rolling pin so you can unflip it into the pie pan.
As for techniques, two stand out. First, mixing up the flour and Crisco into the right crumbly consistency. My notes say “Dig, don’t mash, longtitudinally” and you definitely have to twist the wrist. I’m sure there are YouTube videos, or you could ask for an intro to my Mom, who can show you. It’s what the dough blender is for; here’s ours.
Second, there’s that business of flipping and unflipping and rolling pins and pie pans. The bad news is, it’s hard. The good news is, when (not if) you miss, you can maneuver the crust around and repair any damage pretty straightforwardly with leftover dough and a bit of water to make it sticky. I should mention that my Mom doesn’t miss, she drops the bottom and top crusts on dead center every time. Maybe when I’m 86 I’ll be able to do that too.
What are you proud of? · Someone asked me that not too long ago, and while I have this highly visible geek persona, on that front I always feel like I’m stumbling in the dark pushing through cobwebs, benefiting unfairly from multidimensional good luck, straining at the edges of what I can understand, asking people to explain things over and over. Imposter syndrome? Yeah, but extreme cynicism, plus suspicion of anyone who sounds over-confident, are super helpful.
So I’ll tell you what I’m proud of: Being a functional domestic adult. I can conjure up an OK dinner for the family from whatever catches my eye in the grocery on the way home, and have it on the table pretty damn quick after I come in the door. I can iron a shirt and calm a baby and clean a kitchen and prune a shrub and chainsaw firewood, then split it. I can untangle a ten-year-old’s hair after she’s been on the trampoline.
I’ve got a kid inside my head who’s in awe of my awesome mastery of these grown-up mysteries.
On top of which, I can now make pie. It’s the opposite of imposter syndrome, and it’s really OK, I think.