Every relationship goes through trying times and mine is no exception.
There was a day many years ago when I was home alone with two under two, that is, two children less than two years old. If you have been there you know, arms full of boys, toys and diapers is not easy.
I had girlfriends, thank God for them, and I have a husband but at the time he was mostly working out of town, returning home to sleep and make more laundry.
So there came a day when I had had enough. We had an argument. It was a doozy—even by my standards—lasting through the baby’s feeding, a nap, another feeding and then it was dinner. In those days, I measured time by feedings and naps and changings and meals until I fell down dead on my feet to start again at two a.m.
Four hours later, when I had let it all out (and truthfully was feeling much better), my poor husband sat there quietly. Feeling generous (God knows what came over me), I asked, “So, is there something you might like from me to make our relationship better?”
“Yes,” he said. “I’d like it if you made pie.”
Me: “What kind of pie?”
Husband: “Any kind. It really doesn’t matter. I’d just like a little pie.”
And that is how I came to be in the kitchen on most holidays including Thanksgiving.
When the yoga philosopher and Harvard professor Ram Dass was seeking truth and enlightenment, he asked his teacher, “What is the meaning of life?”
His teacher replied, “Feed everyone.”
Feed everyone, spiritually, emotionally and with pie so it seems.
To understand our dharma, or our purpose in life, is to understand how we are meant to serve. What is needed of us at this time? Those who are remembered forever are those who served exceptionally well. They knew how to love.
Just like yoga, where the preparation for the pose is often harder than the pose, it is the same with pie. It took me nearly seven years to open up my quads before I could do even the barest semblance of a backbend. Seven years!
Pie is also a lifetime endeavor. Some days it turns out. Some days it does not. The crust is more than tricky; it is obfuscated in the complexity of gluten and temperature, altitude and luck. Some flours work better than others. Some types of butter have more fat and some days you don’t know what went wrong.
Yet the effort is never wasted. I am more of a cake person, but I learned how to make pie because this is my dharma for the one I love.
When I wake up early to go to the kitchen, quiet and dark, to warm up the frozen butter and ice the water, to mix regular flour with the lighter texture of cake flour, to wipe down the counters with the coldest water possible and then to pray that it all comes together, my husband knows this is for him.
It is how I serve. Yoga is just like pie, it’s not easy, but you get to try over and over again until you get it right.
A recipe for pie crust, because the best use for fruit, in my opinion, is to be floating in a drink.
Michelle’s Not-So-Easy-Pie Crust
For a 10-inch Crust for pumpkin or pecan pie.
- 1 ½ cups regular flour plus 2 tablespoons of lighter cake flour
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 4 tbl sp of very cold but not frozen butter, plus 1 tbl sp of vegetable shortening
- 1 tsp of cider vinegar
- 5 to 8 tbl sp of ice cold water
Pour a drink (optional). Place the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and shortening. Blend until crumbly. Add the cider vinegar (it helps with consistency). Add the water slowly. You want the dough to come together but not be wet. The amount of water will depend on the fat in your butter and the gluten in the flour. The best quality flour and butter will require less water.
Roll out and knead by hand until you have a ball. Press into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Make your filling. After the dough is chilled, roll it out on a very cold surface. Prayer might help. Granite or marble is the best surface, so if your countertop is made of something else, I recommend buying a smooth pie dough surface thing to roll it on. I used to keep mine in the garage where it stayed cool year round.
This dough is not the flaky kind. I’ve never been successful at that. This dough is rich like a shortbread and goes great with pecan or pumpkin pie. Happy holidays and if this doesn’t work, pour another drink and remember you always can try again.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Joselito Tagarao