Saturday, November 28, 2009

Experiments in Bulk Pie Making

Janine has an old mission companion in town, Cori, from California. Because she is here for American Thanksgiving, and our family missed the Canadian version, as well as the fact that we will be away for Christmas, we decided to do a full turkey dinner in honour of this American holiday. To make it more worth our while, we invited the missionaries both from our ward and our parents, as all four of them are also American.

Given that my parents had cheated me out of the pie extravaganza I was planning on October, I took full advantage of this chance. Last week, I artfully approached my father about how many pies I was allowed to make. The answer was, "As many as you want." Perfect. Now I had an excuse for my mother.

As I talked about my plans, people began making suggestions. Peter was adamant I make a lemon meringue, Cori asked for pecan, and I had a desire to try a lattice-top, as well of some kind of chilled pie I had never made before. On Thursday, when I made final decisions before hitting Superstore, I had six varieties on the menu; apple, pumpkin, pecan, cherry, lemon meringue, and strawberry chiffon.

Friday afternoon, I got to work. I figured my best plan would be to make a double recipe of crust and then make fillings as I rolled them out. I made that crust with great ease, chatting on the phone to Kylie. Then I began rolling out.

The thing about pie crust is it is not a simple recipe you can follow like cake, where there is a mathematical formula you can follow to make it turn out perfect. Pie crust is all about feeling, and guessing for yourself when it's just right. Pie crust, is an art form.

After the seventh failed pie crust I rolled out, I was about in tears. I'd already been in the kitchen for two hours and I didn't have a single pie completed. In my frustration, I called my mother and she suggested adding cold water, as we live in such an insufferably dry climate.

It worked like a charm. I was soon rolling out pie crust after pie crust and whipping out fillings like it was nothing. The lattice-top was simple. Then my family started coming home.

All right, don't get me wrong. I was happy to see them. But it seemed like everyone had a problem that I got entangled in, while simultaneously trying to make my pies. Mom was going to Theatre Calgary with some women from her Relief Society, Dad had to drive them in a blizzard, and people were late. Janine and Cori had driven to Lethbridge to visit another missionary, and for some reason, they could not dial his number, nor could he get a hold of them, for some unknown reason. Guess who was relaying messages back and forth? That mystery was solved when we learned that Elder Olsen had the wrong number, and it only took 40 minutes for us to solve that brain teaser.

After Mom and Dad were off, the Relief Society ladies had all been rescued from the sides of the roads, and Janine and Cori had found their way, I was exhausted. I'd been in the kitchen for five hours, and was just beginning the apple filling.

I began at 2 o'clock. It was almost nine when, after successfully making my Grandma's lemon pudding, I began my last pie, the strawberry chiffon. I had decided at the beginning that I would finish with the strawberry because it sounded the simplest. Then, I took a good look at the recipe.

Apparently after I had crushed the strawberries, whipped the cream, and put it all together, I still had to let it chill in the fridge for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. I cursed myself for not reading this earlier. I had envisioned setting out all my gorgeous pies on the table that evening to be admired and then going no where near the kitchen, not coming back every few minutes to stir some berries and cream.

Somehow, I persevered. I got the cleaning up done between stirring sessions, as well as took each pie out of the oven as it finished. Perhaps that whole staying in the kitchen thing was a good idea after all.

By 10 pm, it was all over. Six pies decorated the counter, and the strawberry was chilling. Again. The counters were cleared and wiped, the floor was no longer coated with flour, and I was flopped down on the couch with a book. Eight whole hours I had been in the kitchen. Seven pies were ready to go for Thanksgiving the next day. My back ached, my feet were tired, these pies had better the best dessert we'd ever eaten.

They may not have been, but I thought the were pretty close. I wish I'd taken a picture of them, but by the time the strawberry chiffon finished chilling, I was running around helping with dinner. My family was clever enough to keep any comments that may have been less then flattering to themselves. The elders particularly liked the strawberry chiffon, and I got to show off my handiwork to anyone who passed through our house for the next few days.

This is a very exciting day. Today I live up to the title Kylie bestowed on me in the eleventh grade. Today, I really am the Queen of the Pie Realm.

Now for next year's Thanksgiving . . .

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