13 June 2011

More Pie Dreaming: Cutting Butter

My husband used to joke that he'd married me for my pie-making ability. Apparently, he chose this over other, more useful skills, like visual acuity, common sense, or the simple powers of observation.

It is strawberry-rhubarb season here in Doodlehem. It is also farmers market season. Ergo (in parentheses therefore), it is also what we lovingly refer to as "Pah Season." (No, he wasn't Southern. Or a Kennedy. Don't ask me why he called it pah. He just did. But only mine.) Anyway. Since unpacking my eleventy-billion boxes of kitchen gadgetry--most of which I was surprised to have still owned, having not seen it in so long--I have gone on Red Alpha Seven Nesting Alert and made two different kinds of jam, orange-cherry conserve, weekly loaves of bread, lemon curd, and approximately half my weight in pies. All without the use of what I long thought was my trusty pastry cutter. I thought for sure I'd had one. If not in Putnamistan, then at least in Kingston before I got married. Then I thought I must be hallucinating, because there it wasn't, and I was the only one who ever made anything that even vaguely resembled pastry.

Which brings me to the current contents of the oven. It's hard to make pie crusts four at a time. The proportions get all hinky, the bowl gets small, things get coated in flour that should never get coated in flour, and when you apparently never owned a pastry cutter to begin with, it gets really damn annoying using a dinner fork. In the midst of the carnage, I called my dad to reminisce about a one-armed Jesuit we know who is an artisanal baker (among other goofy things, he mentions in his cookbook that he kneads his dough with one massive hand, but says he supposes it's ok to use two if you have them) and his story about cutting butter. It's an apt metaphor for a disabled man--trying to be content in the moment, using the one arm God gave you to cut industrial size bricks of butter into usable pound increments with a complex system of wires and handles--and so I called to ask my dad if I was "happy cutting butter". I allowed as how I wasn't, particularly.

Twenty minutes ago, I put into the oven the ugliest pies I have ever made in my life. The dough was sticky. I had to use unsalted butter. The lattice was crap. In short, they're going to be (I hope) one of those things that taste infinitely better than they look.

I had just started to do the dishes and wipe the drifts of flour and squished butter off the butcher block counter into the trash can when something came crashing down on my head from its hook above the sink, where it sits in plain sight every damn minute of the day.

You guessed it. My pastry cutter. Because apparently I can't just get the lesson, submit with grace, and then move on. Apparently I have to also have the Three Stooges squeaky-toy, hammer-to-the-head, pie-in-your-face (or in this case, pie implement on top of your face) moment.

Yup. That would be me.


Anonymous said...

Yum! I love pie! I never take the time to make it, even thought I make a kick-ass crust!! Life gets in the way and I need to slow down and celebrate "pah" season! :)

Anonymous said...

Can I have a pah?

thefirecat said...

Of course you may have a pah. What kind of pah would you like?

Anonymous said...

can you make gluten free pahs? I've never had a pah other than pumpkin and apple (the latter I don't like).