Cooking from scratch was rare during my childhood. Perhaps my parents, reared on produce from Victory Gardens and chickens raised in the back yard, had been primed to enjoy frozen convenience foods.
I, on the other hand, see cooking as a creative outlet. Though to my husband’s dismay, I am not much of a dessert person, if there’s a special meal on the calendar, I’ve found I enjoy baking pies.
My mother’s rare foray into from-scratch production gave me the pre-YouTube confidence to roll out dough, transfer it into the dish, and fashion by hand an appealing crimped edge. The aroma of apples awash in butter and cinnamon brought back memories, as it should. As time went on and my tastes matured, however, the crust consistency and elementary filling flavors in the original recipe wore thin. My curiosity about cooking expanded. Between experimenting, reading the explanatory texts at the beginning of cookbooks, regularly clipping recipes, and acquiring a food processor, year by year my renditions have improved.
Apple pie, enhanced by the switch to an all-butter crust, soared with the inclusion of both tart apples that hold their shape and sweeter apples, that break down. I branched out into blueberry pie, switched crust recipes again, and that dessert became traditional for Easter.
Surprisingly, cherry birthday pie in July drew rave reviews. I have never had so many houseguests drop into my kitchen for baking updates, sharing stories from their youths, as I did while baking that pie.
For the biggest feast ever, though, superlative pumpkin pie has been tricky, as well as the quest for a sigh-inducing pecan pie. After many one-and-done attempts, this year, I flipped my two-day routine for Thanksgiving cooking. After a good night’s rest, I committed to the multi-hour anxiety of two new recipes. Amazing results at last!
Blissful expressions around the dinner table encourage me to continue baking. Next up: lemon meringue. (c)