This became the beginning of something Gene looked forward to and took great pleasure in. — Chapter 11, Eye of the Magpie
While I wait for you, my esteemed readers, to find me on this blog, I’ve decided to add some recipes, cooked up in in my book, Eye of the Magpie, that you might enjoy.
My big bad wolf piece of pie
Today, my husband, Adrian “Mike” Pearce, made a delicious rhubarb and strawberry pie. So, I’ve decided to start with it.
For this particular pie, he used the Tenderflake crust and about two cups of strawberries and two cups of rhubarb.
Usually Mike uses my Mom’s Crisco recipe for his pie crusts. And I do attest that his pies are 99.9% as good as Martha’s. The Recipe comes from the old Crisco boxes. They have updated the recipe a few times since this version.
Sometimes though, due to time pressures, he cheats and buys Tenderflake pre-made pie crusts. He and I have the continual debate of which is better: a shortening-based or a lard-based pie crust. His Mom used Tenderflake, ergo his preference.
Regardless of the shell, most people believe it is what’s on the inside that counts. And for that, Mike turns to the Joy of Cooking, pg. 650, “Berry Pie with Fresh Fruit” recipe. (Tenth printing edition, June 1978.)
Our friend, Jeff Woodward, labelled Mike (or Adrian, as he calls him) a baker and myself a cook. That is because I hardly ever exactly measure anything. I follow my Mom’s rule of thumb for making pies.
Mom used about five cups of filling. She would put the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle it with sugar. Her ratio was about one-half cup sugar and up to two-thirds of a cup of sugar for each cup of fruit. Less for sweet things like apples and peaches and more for sour things like rhubarb.
After the sugar was well-stirred into the fruit, Mom would add a few tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the ‘sauce’ made from the sugar and fruit. Apple pie is the only time I remember her using any spices, a bit of nutmeg and a lot of cinnamon. If the apples were dry, she added small bits of butter atop them, after pouring the fruit into the shell.
Once the fruit mixture was in the pie shell, Mom would fold the top crust and cut triangular shapes into it. She would carefully add it atop the big mound of fruit filling and pinch the two crusts together with her finger and thumb. Then she would pop it into the pre-heated oven (400 degrees,) turn the heat down to 325 degrees and bake it for about forty minutes. Yummy!
I’ve never mastered the art of making pie dough. Mine comes out hard, non-malleable, and never quite tastes done. Yet to watch Mike today, or Mom in the past, make pies, it looks like the easiest thing in the world. With the Crisco recipe, and Mike or my Mom’s hands, the crust is light and flaky yet substantial enough that you can pick up a piece of pie and eat it just like that.
That magic and the magic of eating the fruit from your very own garden, picked that day and baked into a pie, well, it never gets old.
Before I go, I just need to add one more thing: that I cant wait for my sisters to read this and tell me that what I wrote is NOTHING like how Mom made pies!