Want to Get Rid of Your Stress and Make People Happy? Bake a Pie!

I’ve always wanted to be an artist; you know, paint, draw, or make jewelry.

Especially during the pandemic, I needed to get rid of my stress and I wanted needed something to do with my hands besides write. I remember my mother wonderful baking pies; she wasn’t much of a cook, but she sure could bake. She made perfectly round pie crusts and used every fruit on grandpa’s farm in her pies. With 4 different kinds of apples, each apple pie had its own distinct flavor. In my opinion, Granny Smith apples are the best because of their tart flavor.

One morning I woke up and decided it was time to bake that pie. How hard can it be?

I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, bought a pie shield, so the crust wouldn’t burn, several tins, and borrowed a rolling pin from my neighbor Mac and went home to try my luck. How hard could this be? Mac is a terrific cook and gave me the best piece of advice.  “Remember, pie baking is about chemistry, you have to follow the recipe.” I guess you just can’t add more garlic!

What pie is your favorite?

My absolute favorite is strawberry rhubarb; I think this was my mom’s favorite also. I found a recipe online and bought all the ingredients for the crust and the filling. I rolled out the crust and before my eyes it fell apart. I tried again to roll it in a ball, add water (which isn’t good, vodka is better) and rolled it out. Now it was sticky. I couldn’t make the crust thin enough and now it was lumpy. How did mom do it?

My first fancy crust, an apple pie!

My first pie, burned on the edges, I forgot the shield, and had a crust like wallpaper paste or maybe grout. (For those of you in the flooring business!)  Everyone was kind; they probably threw the crust out and ate the filling. (Which was scrumptious by the way!)

The more I baked, the more adventuresome I became. I loved the way the pies smelled while the filling was bubbling. I made pie after pie; and tried my hand at fancy crusts.

And then the rhubarb ran out!

I think it was 18 pies for the summer until the rhubarb ran out! Then I planted a dozen plants in my garden for next year. Strawberries were out because the squirrels always devoured them before I got there. Every week I would buy enough fruit to make a pie which I shared with the neighbors.  If I didn’t give them away, I would have eaten all of them!

The old "Hoosier" from my friend Mac.
The old “Hoosier” from my friend Mac.

I was becoming obsessed with pie making. I bought cut out designs, cans of filling, all kinds of sugar and on and on.  Again, Mac, aware of my obsessions, said he bought me exactly what I needed for my pie making—an old Hoosier cabinet. The cabinet even has an old flour bin on the left! By the way, a Hoosier cabinet (also known as a “Hoosier”) is a type of cupboard or free-standing kitchen cabinet that also serves as a workstation. It was popular in the first few decades of the 20th century in the United States since most houses did not have built-in kitchen cabinetry. At this point, it is stacked full of cans of fruit, spices, nuts, and even almond paste. I’ll use the almond paste for something.

I can’t explain the satisfaction; the great smells, mixing the dough, finding a design for the top. And the warm feeling of sharing my pies with friends, neighbors, business acquaintances, anyone who will enjoy them, really.

If you’re cooking, share your recipes. If you’re not cooking, what are you doing to pass the time; whatever your creative outlet, share it with me and I’ll include it in one of my blogs.

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