I baked a pie yesterday.
I have a history with pie baking, a family history.
When I got married at 22 years old I was given 15 pie plates because people already knew I loved baking pies.
But the story doesn’t start there. I didn’t learn how to bake pie in a vacuum. My Mom was a great pie baker and her Mom…well she was the queen of baking.
Grandma Phibbs was a test baker for Robin Hood flour in her younger years. She insisted that the best pie crusts always started from Robin Hood flour and Crisco Shortening. No compromises. No exchanges. Well Grandma, I live in the desert in the middle east now, where no such thing exists. I did the unthinkable. I made pie crust with butter and local flour.
Something about baking pie connects me with my Mom and Grandma. The whole time I’m baking, mixing, rolling, I think about the stories of pies baked before, grandma in the test kitchen, the food truck that my grandma worked on where she met my grandpa, a number of times I heard my Mom call my grandma to ask or talk about something she was baking and the number of occasions I have baked pies for.
Baking pies is one of the very few things that I do in the kitchen that doesn’t require or need some kind of electric gizmo. There are hands involved, utensils that are generated by hands and a beautiful wooden rolling pin. So tactile. So connected. So earthy.
As I roll the pie crust I think of all the tips passed down from my mothers, the familiar feel of the dough in my hands. The rituals and traditions steeped in the process. This is one thing I do in my kitchen that probably looks exactly like it did when it went down in my grandmother’s kitchen (and maybe her grandmother too).
I like to experiment in the kitchen. I lamented to Dave just the other day that I seldom get good at anything because I love to try new things and don’t make anything over and over again.
Pie is the exception.
And then there’s the finished product. The beauty of a pie…it’s not fancy like some of my other experiments. It’s kind of rustic. The golden brown crust and the bubbling apples and sweet smell filling the house, as it has done many many times before is so rewarding and homey.
This morning it has come to my attention that the lovely human who comes to clean my house each week will be celebrating a birthday in a couple of days. Perfect, there’s a little pie dough left over and a few apples. I wonder if he’s ever had apple pie. I wonder if he will taste the history and family tradition in his gift.
My time spent in the kitchen yesterday and today, connecting me with my Mom and her Mom was like a joyful, hopeful prayer going out to her. Tonight she is in hospital fighting off pneumonia.
This one is for you Mom.