Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday ~ Cooking Experience Edition

Today, we're cooking! Or at least we're thinking about it...Annie is asking us to recall our first cooking experience, and if we can't remember that far back we're allowed to share something else memorable from the kitchen.
I remember my first cooking experience - making dinner for the family when I was in elementary school - but today I'm opting for my most memorable baking experience.

This memory takes me back about seven or eight years when my grandmother taught me how to bake a pie crust. Regardless of what you may have thought of your grandma's pies, I feel obligated to let you in on the fact my grandma makes the best pies. And it all comes down to the crust. So I was eager to receive my pie crust lesson from her!
First we measured out the flour in the bowl. Exactly two cups. Then grandma measured exactly a quarter a cup of water and added butter flavored Crisco until the water reached the one cup mark. Exactly. She told me it was crucial to measure precise amounts in order for the pie crust to come out *just right.* Then she poured a small amount of salt into her hand, tossed it into the flour, and said that was the right amount of salt. I always chuckle when I think of her preciseness in everything and then the way she just "eye-balled" the salt.
When it was time to cut the Crisco into the flour my grandma told me some people use knives or a special kitchen tool, but she advised me it's *much better* to use your hands. She got things started, then let me get in and get my hands messy. We mixed and crumbled the flour and Crisco until it was sticky and formed pea-sized balls. Then it was time to add the water and mix just until the water was absorbed.
She taught me how to divide and roll the dough and how to fold it and put it into the pie plates, making sure to poke it several times before baking so it wouldn't get air bubbles.
We baked the crusts, peeled peaches and made delicious fresh peach pies. I was so proud of my first pie. More than that, I was delighted to share the experience with my grandmother. It was fun to spend the time together and to listen to her share the ins and outs of her pie crust knowledge and experience.
When I made my first pie without her help I was so excited and invited her over to sample. She said, "It isn't too bad. Remember, you can touch the dough all you want before you add the water, but you shouldn't mix it much after the water is absorbed." I filed that comment away under, "What to do differently the next time I bake a pie crust."
Since then, I have been more careful not to mix too much after adding the water. Grandma has approved of my pie crusts, and my mom says, "I think you have Grandma's touch." I have even been chosen to bake the pies for Christmas a couple times...when Grandma was going to be there. Oooo! Pressure!
Though my grandma taught me valuable things about baking pie crusts, I cannot roll it and get it into the pie plate like she does, without breaking it. I have since learned to roll it out between floured pieces of waxed paper. But I'll never tell her that's how I do it! I also measure my Crisco in my favorite "good-for-things-like-shortening-and-peanut butter" measuring cup, instead of displacing a quarter cup of water. I'll keep that fact a secret, too.
My grandma is approaching her 90th birthday and I love the memory I have of baking my first pie crust with her. Someday I hope to pass the tradition along to my granddaughter!

Please visit Annie to Time Travel with other bloggers.

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annie said...

What a sweet memory Karen.
I don't know that I have made pie crust except for chicken pot pies. Your crust sounds good... I love those measuring cups that you push out stuff like peanut butter and mayonnaise. So easy. The older I get (and I'm still young!) I realize how much memories mean. How much a simple gesture or example can mean years later. I imagine your grandmother knew this too, and that's why she took time to share her talent with you.

CoachJ said...

great story!! My granny is the best cook I know, too, and her desserts are the bomb!! My granddaddy still tells me there is hope for me 'cause granny couldn't cook when they got married, but she can now!! I finally can make a banana puddin' like her!
How funny--"dessert" stories are what we have most of....our hubbies would approve ;)

- PRACTiCAL CHiCK said...

Nice story. :)

Just for the record - the chicken came out okay. I was smart and finished it up on the stove top. LOL

Joyful Days said...

Karen, that is such a cool story. I would never measure up to your Grandma's method. I admire anyone who can do pies, which I love, but cannot and quit trying to make.


Renee's Ramblings said...

What a great memory! I have not yet tried homemade pie crust but am planning to do it next week. Will keep your Grandma's advice in mind!

Have a great week.

Karen said...

A Kiwi friend of mine has mentioned your blog on a recent posting as a blog of note and merit...here is her link. It is a wonderful blog that she has!

How is your latest writing progressing?

Karen said...

Hi there, the following is a message from Claire (Fireball, Life with Christ). You are impacting New Zealand, Karen!!!

See below for Claire's message:

"Hi Karen - that is so cute re the hugs thing. boys! my son has just started school about oh nearly 2 months ago now - and is a lovely affectionate boy - BUT wouldnt let me kiss him until AFTER the bell rang (they come out to the cloak room to get their bags and go back inside). it was so funny!

Am enjoying the candidness of your site. it is hard been a mum and it is good to read other mums insights and survival tips - and their special moments that make you love your own child more.

I cant comment on your blog though - my puter has "issues"... which is a shame as i want to say heaps that i'm enjoying it!"

IRENE said...

Lovely post! Beautiful memories , lovely said! May your wish be granted.