Monthly Archives: August 2013

Making the Imperfect Pie

Once upon a time I baked a lot. Just ask anyone—my daughter, my husband, and those friends who got cookies and shortbread and cake during the holidays, even my co-workers. Most of the time it was from scratch. I did defer to Betty and the Doughboy when it came to cakes, but everything else was homemade, even the brownies…and the pie crust. My mom’s favorite crust recipe…who knows how old…but with shortening rather than lard. I don’t doubt lard was an original ingredient but, well, modern times and all that.
Times change. Hours get crowded, becoming shorter and shorter until there doesn’t seem enough time to do anything “from scratch”. The last few pies I made? Spur of the moment blackberry chocolate chip (followed by raspberry chocolate chip) nested in a crust from Pillsbury…fast, easy, and fine. But today…I did it the old fashioned way!
Our local orchard is awash with apples, William’s Pride, Zestar, Honeycrisp, and more to come. My crisper is full. So…on this fine morning I got up determined to make the perfect pie crust for the perfect apple pie. Who knew?
First I couldn’t put my hands on my recipe box. Noooooooooooooo! It wasn’t where I’d put it (where did I put it and when did I use it last?). After lamenting the clutter of cookbooks and containers that seemed to have multiplied overnight and vowing to attack the offending objects to “clear the decks”, I finally found it and the crust instructions. Followed them to the letter and put the crust to rest as directed. Time to peel, core and slice those apples. And cook up the sugar/flour/butter mixture that pours over those slices. Forgot to time the resting period for the crust (15 minutes per Mom) and viola, it was dry. Never fear, a few sprinkles of water and it was malleable again, although I did have to patch a place or two when it went into the pie can. While rolling out the crust, I noticed that my “syrup” was more a “slush”. Forgot the water…added the water, brought it back to a boil and then stirred. A lot. Sprinkled cinnamon over the apples, piled them high in the bottom crust and rolled out the top…larger than the bottom because I had this mound of apples, right? Poured some of the syrup on the apples, placed the crust over the fruit…and had to stretch it so I could crimp those edges (my mom’s were always perfect…sigh). Barely crimp those edges…another sigh. But….into the oven it went, the rest of the syrup glazed on top.425F for 15 minutes (I did the dishes) and 350F for the remaining 50. (I remembered to put a cookie sheet under the pan in case it dripped. It did.)
My imperfect pie is sitting on a cooling rack, the glaze a light brown and a bit spotty but a glaze nonetheless. My husband the pie lover said “Looks perfect!” I look at it and wonder why I didn’t quite get the pretty outside, until I realize it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the timing, but the satisfaction I get from seeing something “made from scratch” gives me a good feeling.
Apple pie
Life is like that. It may not always be perfect, but it’s the sum of the ingredients and the care that’s taken to put them together that counts. I can’t wait for the pie to cool. Vanilla ice cream is on the shopping list for my husband, but I think I’ll like it just as it is.

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Take a Number Please

Every one of us has had to wait for something or someone in our lives. We wait at the doctor’s office, in line at the supermarket, gas station, movie theatre, even at home. We may not always have to take a number, but we wait just the same.
Because waiting is a fact of life, we’re taught early that Patience (yes, with a capital P) is a virtue. Good things come to those who wait; the commuter train that starts an adventure to the Big City, or the ice cream cone as a reward for being good (another word for patient in the child/parent relationship). “Be patient honey, we’ll be there soon” is a phrase we’ve heard or said or both numerous times. Patience is a promise—an assurance that as long as we’re willing to wait good things will happen. True? Not always. Life isn’t perfect. Patience is not always a virtue.
Think back….way back….patience can fail us in the most unexpected ways. “You’ll have so much fun being a big brother (or sister)! Just wait until the baby comes!” Or “Hang in there, ____ (insert teenage high school crush here) will ask you out. Just. Be. Patient. No one mentions that the new baby cries, poops, burps, and steals all the attention from what was once your spotlight. Or, you’ll turn down one too many offers to the prom only to find out that said crush has been asked by someone else. We wait too long to do anything and suddenly it’s too late. But we still wait. Sometimes because we need to, sometimes because we want to, and sometimes because there is no other choice.
According to George Jackson, “Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve fallen into that hole a time or two in my life, usually in a relationship that’s seen its better days. We know romances, friendships, and parenting require patience and perseverance through the rough patches. When the rough patches become the norm, do we risk it all and say something? Do we sit back and tell ourselves there’s still a possibility things will work themselves out? It takes courage to stop being patient and step forward. If we do, we may fail. If we don’t, we will fail. We don’t know until we test the waters.
Where did this all come from you ask? For the first time in a long time I had to “take a number” at the lab where I’d gone to have my blood drawn as part of my annual exam. They were “now serving 21” and I pulled “29”. Since the number only got me as far as registration and then back to my seat to wait for my name to be called, I began to think about how long some of the other patients (yes, it’s a noun as well…coincidence? I don’t think so) had been there. It was an easy segue to my own life and choices…even in my writing life. I flatter myself with the notion that I am one of the most patient people I know. At my age, I’ve learned that not everything happens at once, that sometimes you do have to wait. But. I also have to admit that I can be impatient to the point of grumpiness. It’s a balancing act.
There’s one more quote I want to share here…I’m not sure it has anything to do with patience, but it is interesting.

Good things happen to those who hustle.– Anais Nin

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