Baking Pies and Family Ties

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.


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13 responses to “Baking Pies and Family Ties

  1. Mike Herron

    Great tribute to your mother and grandmother, and incredible memories. These things are so much better when baked with love and history included. I’m sending good thoughts and prayers for your Mom’s speedy and complete recovery. Let us know how your cleaner likes his pie.

  2. What a simple, beautiful, feel good message Tracie. We need more of that these days! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I too am a pie baker. I know just how you feel about the traditions and memories associtated with them. I remember the little pies I made with my grandmother out of the left over dough called “brown sugar and butter” pies. I’m sure you must have made some of them too. I hope that your mother feels better soon.

    • Yes! My Mom would roll out the leftover pie crust, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and drop on a dollop of butter. They were like sugar. I loved them (because the crust is my favourite part and I never understood people who left the crust behind).

  4. snip1234

    Lovely story… and I prayed for your Mom. Pneumonia is no fun (Wilma’s had it a few times)

    Now I want pie…

  5. That’s how my Mom made her pies, Robin Hood flour and Crisco. Me too! And I also started by making my own little brown sugar pies. Brought back some lovely memories. I hope that your mother is back at home soon.

  6. Moved to tears. You fill up my heart. Love you ❤

  7. Sandy

    Mmmmm. I can smell the cinnamon. And feel consolation. Thank you.


    What a delightful read Tracie. As I read your thoughts about making pies, I
    Had to smile because so often, I have had the same feelings as you so beautifully expressed. I always feel close to Mom when I make pies. I never
    Learned to make pies until after we were married. Of course, I did exactly like Mom but then, she would say “Pauline, your pastry is flakier than mine. We then realized that I was using lard while Mom used Tenderflake shortening. Mom switched. I also use my sisters recipe now which is five and a half cups flour, one lb lard and one beaten egg, 1 tbsp white vinegar and enough cool water to fill one cup. This never fails, is always flaky and so I stick with it. Mom just used water…no vinegar or egg. Either way, it was over the lips and onto the hips! I am going to say goodbye and give your Mom a call. We fly to Edmonton on the 8th for Christmas with the kids but won’t be returning to the Okanagan. Uncle Vern’s health isn’t so good and I need the support of family. On good days, I feel so grateful that I got to spend the last 53 years with this sweet man. On bad days, I find myself grieving for what we’ve lost, especially the laughter. On good days, I love that he still wants to hold my hand. Love to you and yours, as always. aunt Pauline💖

    Sent from my iPad


  9. It’s in your genes. I remember when you told me how you used to bake and deliver home-made cinnamon buns to your neighbours on Saturday mornings. That’s pretty special. I’d be ‘over the moon’ if I could open the door to that, any day of the week.

    Baking seems to bring up thought-filled memories for many people, especially daughters, and usually referencing their mothers and/or grandmothers.

    My own baking memory is when my newly, widowed mother started spending Christmas with us. On Christmas Eve day, I would sit her down in the kitchen with a glass of her favrourite rye, while I baked shortbread cookies, pumpkin pies and mince-meat tarts. But, the best part – the one that stays in my mind’s eye – is when, in-between rolling, mixing and filling, she and I would dance, slipping and sliding through clouds of flour that had spilled onto the kitchen floor, laughing and swaying to the music she loved most (Dean and Englebert).

    Those were the very songs I had playing as she lay in her Palliative Care room, during her final days.

    I will send up a prayer for your mother’s recovery.


  10. Terri McCallum

    I can smell the cinnamon and apples wafting through the air!! All my best to your mom Tracie…….Terri

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