The other day I was reading Susan’s post, Pumpkin Pie in a Jar: Recipe. It’s an interesting recipe that would make wonderful gifts for neighbors, the postman (person), the hair stylist, etcetera. It got me thinking about when I was a kid during the holiday season.
When my mom and dad got married, my mom barely knew how to cook. At her own home while she was growing up, it was either her mom or her older sister who did all the cooking. From what I’ve been told, they were marginal cooks at best. My mom didn’t start cooking until she rented an apartment with her friend, Lucy. It was my father and his mom who taught her how to really cook.
Although she learned fast and was soon creating her own recipes, her cakes never seemed to turn out as good as my paternal grandmother’s would. Whatever the secret was, it was somehow passed on to me. I just follow the recipe and the cakes turn out delicious. My mom could follow the same recipe and not get the same results. Don’t ask me how this happens because I really don’t know.
With this said however, my mom’s pies couldn’t be beat. I wish she still made them but at the age of 86 and having back pain, her baking days are over. The edges of the crust were never burned or even too brown. They were flaky and held their shape when a slice was cut.
Most filling recipes are easy. Only people who can’t read the directions on the can of filling or the Jell-O box can fail with that. Of course, if you’re creating your own filling there may be some times of trial and error. My mom usually went the easiest route because she’d also be cooking the rest of the holiday dinner.
I was always fascinated with how she worked with the dough. She’d put all the ingredients into the big mixer and get is whirling around. (However, the butter had to be cut into the mixture.) She’d pull the bowl away from the mixer stand and hand-stir with a fork to make sure all of the flour was in the mixture. Then she would roll the dough out on to a flour-covered board and knead it briefly. The rolling pin was brought out of hiding in the drawer and half of the dough was put back into the bowl. Mom would roll the pin over what was still out until the dough looked paper-thin to me. It was actually between a sixteenth to an eighth inch thick depending on what the filling was going to be. She’d fold it gently and loosely so it was half of a circle. (This way it was easier to get it into the pie pan correctly first time around.) She would then cut the edges a little below the lip of the edge of the pan. She’d design what was left of the edge of the dough and jab the middle a few times with a fork.
As she would be finishing with the pie, I got the chance to do my own thing with the scraps of dough left over from making the bottom layer of the pie. I would gather up the dough and knead it briefly on the floured board to make it a smaller version of what my mom had made. Then I’d shape it around my thumb hoping that I wouldn’t get it too thin, making a hole where I didn’t want one. Then I would carefully take the shaped dough off my thumb and spoon some jelly into the round pocket I had made. Then I’d fold the dough over to seal the pocket. Holding it very carefully, I’d sprinkle some sugar over the shaped dough. My mom would put it in the oven for me along with the pie she had made.
Of course, my little pocket would be done before the pie. Mom would bring it out during one of her times peeking into the oven to check on the pie. I usually gave my pocket pie to my little brother. To this day, I’m not sure why I would do that. We would pick on each other quite often during the colder months because we’d be stuck inside. You would think he’d be the last person I would give anything to, but somehow I would be handing the jelly-filled pocket to him every time.
Was I more of an angel than what people were saying about me? Nah, it couldn’t be. I was just a regular kid. 😉