Behold, My Humble Pie

This morning, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie for my husband, Dean.  He is a big fan of pie, and today is our sixteenth anniversary.  (Happy Anniversary, Dear!)

I didn’t always make pies.  Up until about ten years ago, the thought of making a pie from scratch did not appeal to me.  In fact, up to that point of my life, any and all pie-making efforts had been stressful.  (Picture someone trying to teach me to make a pie, then hitting me with the rolling pin when I did something wrong.)  (That didn’t really happen, but it gives you a sense of the emotional landscape that existed in my mind surrounding pie-making.)

In those years, Dean would periodically ask me (almost beg me) to make a pie, and on some level I felt terrible about not being able, or willing, to make a proper pie.

Then one day when Cam was very small and no-one was asking me to make a pie, I opened a drawer in my kitchen, found a mini-tub of stale Crisco, and proceeded to make a pie.  I don’t quite remember what was in the filling; it must have been some apples I had on hand.  But somehow, that day, the pie-making process had been transformed.  The previously mysterious and uncooperative raw crust became pliable, and if not completely cooperative, at least somewhat playful.  The pie came out beautiful.  I could not believe my eyes.  Since it was not evident to anyone that I had used stale Crisco, I fed the pie to Dean that night.  He loved it.  I then admitted it was made with stale Crisco.  He did not care.  And so the beginning of the pie-making period of my life began.

At first I was making at least one pie a month.  After several months, Dean told me I could slow down.  I told him I was unconsciously trying to make up for all the pie-less years.

I tend to be a little extreme at times.

When I was team parent of Cam’s hockey team a few years ago, I took it upon myself to make the cake for the season-end team party.  I spent about ten hours working on it, and that is not an exaggeration.  I could not have made it without a great deal of assistance from my culinary EXPERT (and all around wise-woman) friend Liz Bunker.  But I could not help thinking at the time, especially about five hours in, “I think I may have overreached.”

Turns out, when you make these sorts of large, odd-shaped cakes, you end up cutting lots of smaller cakes and sticking them together.  It’s optimal to keep the pieces as large as possible, as I found out with my subsequent attempt at “fancy-cake” decorating.  I had quite a few smaller pieces of leftover Hockey Cake in the freezer, and did not have the heart to discard them.  So, I got cocky, and thought I could use these remnants to construct another spectacular cake, which I could bring to the temple for the one time a year we were assigned to bring food for Friday Services Oneg.  Well, I got the cake constructed, and despite a tremendous amount of frosting, the thing kind of imploded into thirds.  I was too ashamed for anyone to see my fallen Jew-cake in public (until now, apparently), so we kept it home and ate it.  (It tasted good.)  For the Oneg, I stopped at a bakery in a local overpriced boutique grocery store.  (Thank goodness for those local overpriced boutique grocery store bakeries!)

Who knows, maybe I’ll design a better cake, and personally make it for my son’s bar mitzvah next year.  But I’d really rather not think about that just yet…..better to just reflect on some good old-fashioned pie-making, and how that seemingly insurmountable challenge was eventually overcome.

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