Of Pies and Petulance

Tomorrow has the distinct honor of being one of my very favorite and very least favorite days of the year, all at the same time. It’s easy to love Thanksgiving: the food is good, the family is usually tipsy enough to play nicely, and the main activity of the day plays at my natural strengths (eating and not moving, naturally).

Why is it, then, that this is one of my least favorite days? Mostly it’s because I make pie for Thanksgiving, and pie is a tricky beast. It’s also because it’s impossible to see my whole family, and Thanksgiving is a lot less fun if you only get to spend it with half your loved ones. Boo.

Anywho, back to pie. Whoever coined the phrase “Easy as pie” was a nefarious brigand, because pie is not easy. Pie is insidious. Pie is tricksy. Pie eats my brain every freaking year.

I have yet to make a pie that did not leave me swearing like a sailor and chucking measuring cups across the kitchen, because pie. is. hard. The fillings don’t tend to bother me. Custard pie filling is a cakewalk, you just mix eggs and milk with some seasonings and call it a day. Fruit pie filling seems pretty easy too, though I’ve only ever experimented with forest berry filling.

No, the bedevilment comes from the crust. Pie crust is awe-inspiringly difficult. It takes skill just to put it together, and then it takes decades of training to handle it into resembling anything close to how a pie crust should look.

I’ve talked to so many women who assure me that all I need is the right recipe, but humbug is all I have to say to that. Even if the pie crust is made from Play Dough and a toddler could handle it with ease, making a wad of pie crust dough look like pie crust is tough.

You need a temperament that is at ease with rolling it out flat no matter how long it takes, a temper that won’t flare when the dough sticks to the rolling pin and rips, and inexhaustable patience as you try to transport your paper-thin crust-flap from the counter to the pie tin without tearing it.

You need artistic aspirations to shape the outer crust with a fork or finger, and divinely-appointed mastery of the elements in order to cover the pie with another crust-flap (without ripping it. You see, if you’re making the kind of pie that gets covered on the top with crust, you can’t just try again if the crust rips, because it gets bits of berry and stuff on it).

If you know me (or have been reading my blog for any length of time) you’re perhaps acquainted with the idea that patience is not really numbered among my virtues, nor is the ability to fail gracefully. As you can imagine, making pie therefore takes on an almost mythical height of difficulty.

A height I have to tackle every year for Thanksgiving, because my mom is a fool for my custard pie. No matter how heinous they look, my mom assures me they’re the best pies she’s ever eaten and for that reason I make them every year. I shield her from the carnage as much as possible, but she can always see the touch of crazy in my eyes afterward, which, I suspect, is why she tells me she likes the pies so much.

I’ve actually surprised myself by how much I’ve written about pies just now. I had no idea I felt this strongly, but apparently pies are my Pandora’s box. Ye have been forewarned.

I hope you all have an excellent Thanksgiving and that, as you wallow in your serotonin-drenched stupor tomorrow, life looks good and problem-free if only for a little while.

8 thoughts on “Of Pies and Petulance

  1. Only masochists make their own pie crusts. The rest of us use the Pillsbury rolled crusts.

    Even the woman I used to work with who made phenomenal baked goods used them. You still have to make the edge pretty, but don’t have to worry about the rest of the rolling/moving issues.

  2. -Mrs. Higrens, I’m so glad you, too, are aware of the bedevilment of homemade pie crusts. The trouble is that my mother in law makes phenomenal homemade pies, so my husband is spoiled and I don’t want to let him down. Hoisted by my own petard, I’m afraid!

  3. Pie is my job on Thanksgiving too, since I supposedly make the best in the world. I think pie is pretty easy, but sometimes I do use the Pillsbury crusts if I’m feeling lazy. =)

  4. -Dane, I have pictures for the posting. The pie-making was, for the most part, uneventful. The pies themselves…You’re just gonna have to wait for the next blog installment to find out :)

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