Confession: I’ve never made a real homemade pie. As a kid, I made a chocolate cream pie with my grandmother, using a store bought crumb crust and a filling mix. Admirable as this form of pie making sounds to most (or is it just me?), my daughter wanted more. She wanted to make a real apple pie with a homemade crust. She wanted this pie made in a real pie plate, not a disposable foil pan.
First, I tried to get out of it.
“Thanksgiving is so busy, honey, maybe we could just buy the pies like normal people?”
“Come on, Mom!” was her only response.
She found the recipe. She watched a bunch of you-tube videos in preparation. She was ready to make the best apple pie ever. And since Thanksgiving fell on her birthday this year, I felt like I couldn’t say no.
I bought a pie plate and all of the many ingredients (several of which required me to stand in the baking aisle for an extended period of time). I grabbed a mix for the pie crust as back-up, because I’ve baked with me before. No one wanted a pie-less Thanksgiving.
As I stood in the baking aisle looking for a random pie ingredient, I noticed an ingredient for a different recipe: the legendary cake my grandmother used to make. I figured that if I was going to bake things I’m not allowed to eat (see sugar addict recovery), I should go all out. Plus, we needed something to hold all those birthday candles.
Back at home, I prepped for baking, and reminisced about the day my sweet girl was born, as mothers tend to do when their kids reach a milestone birthday. We start to dream about the blissful baby smell, and wonder where the hell it went, and how we went from strong enough to push out a seven pound babe with no pain meds to not being able to open a bottle of wine in under ten minutes.
I thought about that one Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when I yelled at Dave for not leaving happy hour the moment I told him I was in labor (he was certain he had time for one last beer). Then I remember the most beautifully painful and profound experience of being torn apart from the inside out and rewarded with my second little girl. We I came back together and walked myself to my room, I told the nurse we would be going home in the morning. She was horrified, and tried to stop me, but I refused to spend my baby’s first thanksgiving in the hospital. And we didn’t.
It was a shining moment of strength for me, so I like bask in the light of that memory now and then. God knows I’ve done my fair share of cowering in the sight of physical pain, spiders and intimidating recipes for pie crusts.
Scary stuff, my friends.
I looked over the pie crust recipe carefully. When my sweet girl wasn’t in the room, I brought out the backup mix. She was distracted, and not all that focused on this epic baking day she had planned. So I mixed the ingredients, called to her and began rolling out the crust. She arrived in a swoop, and said, “Here mom, let me show you how to do this.” “I know how to use a rolling pin, sweetie.” “No,” she said, “There’s a more effective way.”
I handed her the rolling pin and she had at it. She rolled and demonstrated a trick she learned from the best youtube baker alive and carefully placed the dough in the pan. “See? Wasn’t that easy?”
It was. She’s brilliant. All that time spent on youtube is finally paying off.
Coring, peeling and slicing the apples isn’t as much fun, so after she advised me to be extra careful, she wandered off. When the filling was done and I discreetly had a taste, I realized I’d been missing out all these years. Freshly cooked pie filling, like cookie dough, is better than the finished product.
My girl came back to the kitchen to fill the pie and put the top of the crust on with her rolling pin trick. I was impressed again.
I learned how to make an apple pie, finally. It wasn’t so hard. It only took me four hours to complete. My sweet daughter was able to practice her carefully learned on you tube skills and was quite content. None of my kids actually tasted it, because their Thanksgiving feast consists of a biscuit and mashed potatoes.
What about the simple recipe that my grandmother claimed as her own? It was a hit! It took a mere ten minutes to make (no baking needed) and the recipe was not at all intimidating. You can find it on the back of the Famous Chocolate Wafers box. She was a smart, smart woman, my grandmother, courageous enough to take shortcuts when ever possible.