Thursday, November 15, 2007
Pie 101 or Disaster Strikes at Midnight
I think one of the things we so love about blog land is the fact that it has become a lot like Show & Tell Day when we were little kids. I really enjoy reading about other people and there daily lives. I especially like all the blogs about people’s hobbies and homemaking activities. Now most all of the blogs I have read have been about people’s successes and great accomplishments. Well, I thought it might be interesting to hear a little story about me that was not such a great success story. There maybe some of you out there that are like me. Some one who eventually gets the job done, but not quite as smoothly as I had thought going into the project. It all started about a month ago when I got a great idea from a blogland friend to go to a local farm and buy some really good apples. I was so very proud of myself. I went to this wonderful apple farm in the Yakima Valley that let me mix and match all sorts of wonderful apples till I had a great big crate full of the delicious fruit. I loved going home and taste testing all the different varieties and deciding which ones would be my pie apples for the holiday pies. I decided on a lovely old variety called a Braeburn. So last night in a bit of a panic I realized it was one week to D day and I really needed to get something done. I am always a bit overwhelmed by the holiday thing. I try every year to simplify and plan ahead better, but I always seem to get in over my head. So last night I thought to myself, let me at least get some of the pies done. I could start my pie crust tonight, chill it overnight, roll out the crust, fill the pies and freeze them in the morning. Than all I would have to do is simply bake them. It’s an okay plan. I have done it before. The pies are not quite as wonderful as freshly made. But I am the only one that seems to notice. Seriously my family is not picky at all; I am the closet “Martha Steward” that has a hard time not doing things perfectly right. So here I am giving into my need for perfection. I even decide I am not going to make my crust the old fashion labor intensive way of my mother's traditional receipe. No, this year I will use the Cuisenaire. A machine I bought just a year ago, and have only used twice. I have more frustration with getting the thing to work than if I would simply just cut the pastry by hand. But this time I say to myself I am going to conquer this baby. So I use my mother’s standard Crisco recipe, and decide I am going to try it in the Cuisenaire. Who says I have to use Martha's or Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. I will just keep some of my tradition. So I am pulsing away, making batch after batch of crust, wrapping it, and chilling it. Then I think to myself, maybe I can get my husband to give me a quick hand with the apples and I will really be ahead of the gang. So my wonderful husband, who never ever really refuse my pleas of help shows up and does the apples for me with our handy dandy apple peeler, corer contraption. Now I am thinking this is such a great idea. Maybe I will even tackle the walnut pies, and pumpkin pies in the morning and have all my baking done. So I look at the clock and it is 11:00 pm when I finally have two apple pies all assembled and ready to go into the freezer. For some reason the pie crust was hard to work with, it kept falling apart. It must be that stupid machine. I start cleaning up and I take a taste of the left over pie crust. Hmmmm that tasted a bit weird...another bit, yuck! What is wrong? It tasted rancid....oh no. I look at the date on the Crisco container. Used best buy Sept. 2007. I can't believe it. Who ever thought Crisco could go rancid. Not me apparently. Now what? I decide to disassemble the pies, rip off the top crust. Pour out the filling and save it. Throw all the crust away. I had made four batches of this stuff. I look around the kitchen and it is a complete disaster. Did I mention my husband is usually the clean up crew too? He is now sound asleep. Okay, think, mmmm no Crisco, but I do have butter. Well maybe good old Martha will have to come to the rescue. I start making crust with a recipe of hers I have never tried, but was made for the food processor. So I make the first batch, a little too soft, but I will chill it. Great thing about her recipe, it was for a double batch, so I only had to do two batches. By now though I just want those blasted pies done so I can get to bed. So by about 12:30 I have the pies done, wrapped and put in the freezer. I take a look around my kitchen and shame on me I cannot do another thing. So I leave the whole mess and head to bed, (I am really pooped) hoping Dan will be the great guy that he is and do the kitchen for me in the morning.
The next day I wake up thinking clean kitchen, clean kitchen, please a clean kitchen. Turns out Dan didn't even make it into the kitchen; he just headed straight to work this morning. He is really a great guy, he would have done it. He doesn't cook a single thing, but the man is great for coming in behind me, and bailing me out of my messes. I am a great big slob when I cook; I like to think of myself as a creative force in the kitchen. I just get so carried away. ;>) Now I am faced with my great big mess, and plans to have gotten all my shopping done today. Well, I am thinking if I get this mess all cleaned up I will still at some point have to make more pies and repeat the disaster. I determinedly decide at 9:30 I am baking pies! Two and a half hours later, I finally have two pumpkin, and two walnut pies all done, wrapped and in the freezer. I am again pooped. Well, do I stop to clean up and face not having the energy to go food shopping, plus eight billion other errands? Or do I push through the day and clean up when I get home.
I opt to go out and return to the disaster later. I do put the garbage away, and most of the dishes in the sink, but the flour is flung here there and everywhere, and the dish washer is full of clean dishes. Well to finally put an end to this loooooong story. I don’t get home till 5:45 and when I walk in the door, my kitchen is clean and hubby is getting all the groceries in from the car for me and helping me put stuff away. I did opt for some quick pizzas to pop in the oven from the grocery store for dinner. So no more mess for one day anyway.
Moral of the story is, I am a messy cook, things do go wrong, but my husband is a knight in shinning armor even if he has never cooked a meal. Kind of like my own Mr. Clean. Those pies are all made tucked in the freezer. I hope the rest of my holiday plans go a little smoother. But no matter what my man Dan will be there to help me through my tasks. We make a good team after 30 years of life together. Thanks Dan for the great rescue today!
I hope you are all having better luck at executing your holiday plans than I am ;>)