If desserts make the holidays, and you don’t always make the best desserts, what do you do? Give it up and buy them from the store, or roll with the flow and have others bring dessert? Yeah, me too.
I am a purist when it comes to food. There is no mixing of the cheese with the potatoes. No sauce on the vegetables. I’ll never understand why the people at the biscuit shop always ask if I want jelly with my sausage biscuit. And I don’t do gravy on rice. Well, okay. I’ll let that one slide. I am living in the south after all. Foods are perfect just the way mother nature made them. Except for that butter with the lobster thing. That’s a must.
So when my children were little I learned to keep a purist kitchen. It’s similar to a kosher kitchen, only very different. I made homemade bread. I made homemade biscuits. I didn’t use spice packets but rather used spice from jars. I wasn’t quite pure enough to grow them myself. I learned to can vegetables and make jams and jellies. And after my friend told me the story of how she locked herself in the kitchen with 15 pounds of flour and a can of lard for an entire day until she learned to make pie crust, I too learned to make the infamous flaky pie crust. It was the filling I seemed to have problems with. That and the paper that separates the store bought crusts.
As karma does, it all came together one Thanksgiving and gave me a new thing to be thankful for – after it whooped my butt and embarrassed me.
I was tired, harried, overburdened, too hard on myself for my own damn good, and over it all. I decided to take somewhat of a break that year. I allowed the DH to purchase already rolled, already in the pan, ready for the filling, deep dish, frozen pie crusts. It was difficult, but I pressed on.
The night before the big day, I grabbed the canned pumpkin since I had not scraped and baked and frozen the insides of the Jack-o-Lantern. I got the milk, the eggs, the spices and all the necessities and I whooped up one of the most best pumpkin pies in the history of pumpkin pies. I poured everything into the deep dish, store bought, ready to bake, pie crust and set the timer on the oven.
When I heard the sound of doneness I poked the pie with a knife as my mother had taught me to do, took the pies out of the oven and set my masterpieces on top of the stove to cool. All was ready for a great holiday.
I didn’t mind the work. I knew that as soon as the feast was over, DH would pack the truck, load up the boys and head to the hunting camp for the rest of the weekend. I could shop by myself. I could sleep as long as I wanted. I could eat and drink, and drink, and decorate, and drink, and be the happiest Mom in Florida.
I just had to survive one more meal.
I’m happy to say all went well for that meal. Well unless you count when the pie was served. My youngest son loves pumpkin pie. It’s his favorite and he doesn’t even care if there’s whipped cream on top. I set the pie on the table, took the knife and cut a slice just for him. I couldn’t lift the piece out of the pie plate. I cut again, got an actual server instead of the knife, and lifted – air. There was no pie on the server. DH offered to help. I let him.
He said this must be the bottom one of the two crusts purchased. I asked how he knew and why it mattered. He told me that there is a piece of waxed paper between the two in order to keep them from freezing together. He then looked directly at me and asked, “You did remember to remove the paper, right?”
Hmmmm. I have a bad memory.
No matter. We will serve the pumpkin without the crust. We did. My son took a big fork full, put it in his mouth, and gagged.
What now? I know he wasn’t gagging on waxed paper.
“Mom, did you put any sugar in this pie?”
Hmmmm. I have a bad memory.
My pies were gorgeous. My pies should be in a photo shoot. My pies should be thrown to the dogs. Even with them the chance of the pies being eaten was an iffy proposition.
DH came to the rescue once again. He said he would take them to Mr. Turner, the curmudgeon who lives near the hunting camp. Like Mikey, Mr. Turner will eat anything. Or so I hoped.
I waited all weekend to find out what the eventual placement of my pies had been. I said a prayer of thanks when I heard that Mr. Turner loved them and thanked DH and my sons profusely for remembering him at Thanksgiving.
Don’t worry. Mr. Turner lived many more years. I got better at making pies and remembering important ingredients but forgetting other things.
From the life and mind of Wanda M. Argersinger
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