Day Writing: Homemade pie crusts
I am not always the best at making pie crusts, but make them I do. This is because the art of making pie crusts brings back memories of watching my grandmother make her pie crusts, and eating the trimmings until she would comment that if I kept it up, I was sure to get a belly ache.
Perhaps it was youth, or the simple fact that she was and is a phenomenal cook, but I recall those trimmings being delicious, and never once giving me a stomach ache. My own, on the other hand, aren’t as tasty raw, and do indeed form a heavy lump in my gut on occasion.
My Grandma is still very much alive and well at 94 years young, but she doesn’t bake and cook like she once did. Operating out of a “little big” kitchen designed for one or, at most, two women to work in, she cooked and baked for a big ranch crew most of her married life. You never went to Grandma’s house without getting a cookie, piece of pie or roll, all homemade. Her back counter would offer a smorgasbord of whatever she had on hand, bathed in light from the long window above it that looked over the yard, barn and corrals.
My cousins, siblings and I spent a lot of time at Grandma’s when we were little, being randomly dropped off in the midst of whatever cattle or haying job was going on. And, more often than not, she was cooking or baking when we arrived; her perfectly manicured, red nails kneading bread, frying chicken for lunches, or making pie crusts.
I recall sitting at the table as she operated with perfectionist skill on her little rolling cupboard where she made her crusts, flour wafting through the sun filled air. Her cloth covered rolling pin, sifter and lard near at hand. She would efficiently mix ingredients, roll out a perfectly round crust, turn it back on the rolling pin and gently lay it in the pie pan. She would then trim the edges by perhaps an eighth of an inch, she was that good, before filling the pie, adding the top crust and trimming again. Then, as she created her perfectly even scalloped edges, I would “sneak” the bits of edges and eat them until she gave her warning.
This was all done over being asked what I had been up to lately, what the guys were up to, how the cows/fence/road/grass/hay/etc… looked, and other general small talk that grandmothers do, and that make grandkids feel quite big and important.
It’s because of those fond memories that I pass on the store bought version of pie crusts, simple as they may be. God willing, someday I may have the chance to make them in the presence of my grandchildren, while asking about their day and heeding a warning that while my grandmother’s never bothered me, mine may indeed give them a stomach ache if they consume too much in uncooked form.