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As I was rolling out a crust for an apple pie the other day, it made me think of "Pie Boy." It's one of my favorite columns, I hope you enjoy it, too.
Rolling a pie crust. It's an old fashioned art that will impress your friends. Even though we're surrounded by high tech gadgets, it's amazing what a simple wooden rolling pin can create. Take a homemade pie to a family dinner--announce that you rolled the crust from scratch--and your relatives will "ooh and ahh". It's a real self-esteem boost, even for a 12-year-old boy.
Years ago when I was home schooling my son, I taught a cooking class twice a week to eight other home schooled kids. The first lesson was how to mix and roll a pie crust. Since the holidays were just around the corner, I thought it would be fun if the kids could impress their families by making pies from scratch. Mix and roll the dough, toss out the dough because, "oops," somebody goofed, mix up another batch, and finally roll out the finished pie crusts. We cut miniature leaves out of the leftover dough, painted them using food coloring and circled the edge of our cherry, apple and pumpkin pies with an assortment of fall leaves.
The kids enjoyed making pies, especially one 12-year-old boy, who got so hooked that he started baking pies every night at home. "We've never seen him so interested in something," his parents sounded a bit bewildered. I think they found their son's interest in baking pies a bit odd, but I was overjoyed. So I didn't mind one little bit when "Pie Boy" as I lovingly refer to him now, because over the years I've forgotten his name, called me one evening at ten o'clock.
Ring, ring, "Mrs. Beecher, I'm sorry to bother you this late at night. My parents said it was too late to call, but I told them you wouldn't mind. I just finished making two pies, using the recipe from class, but I put peaches in instead of apples. What temperature would I bake them at and for how long?"
Pie Boy had taken it upon himself to experiment, imagine that! I'd never seen a kid have so much fun baking pies. That young man baked so many pies, by the time we finished our class six weeks later, that boy was a better pie maker than me.
Over the years, I've lost track of my amazing pie baker. I wonder what that boy is doing today. Is he a professional baker or maybe he's a Wall Street broker and every year he amazes the relatives on holidays and at family reunions, as they watch him make pies from scratch; rolling the dough and even cutting fancy leaf borders. I'm sure his pie baking skills might have even impressed a date or two along the way. "Hey, how about baking some apple pies tonight?" What woman wouldn't be impressed?
"Where did you ever learn how to bake pies?" someone might ask. And it would be a magical moment if my young baker, told them about the woman who taught a cooking class when he was home schooled. Ah, just thinking about it makes me smile.
Never Fail Pie Crust (Makes 5 crusts)
4 cups flour lightly spooned into a cup
2 teaspoons salt ½ cup water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ cup shortening (not lard or butter)
1 Tablespoon vinegar
Mix all ingredients well and divide into five balls. Flatten with hands (so it looks like a giant hamburger) and refrigerate until cold, if using right away. Or freeze for later use.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
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