I enjoy it so much, yet I only do it once a year.
As has been the case for the past four years, every Thanksgiving Emily’s mom, Alice, invites me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. And asks me to bring the pies. Always pecan, always fruit.
There is comfort in the routine. Wednesday night after work, I make the crust. The same recipe I’ve used since I was a girl. I flip through the pages of my Southern Living Best Of cookbook. The one given to me upon high school graduation, because every young woman needs a few good southern recipes. I thumb through the Pies and Pastries section, pages refusing to yield to my tug, pages stuck together from excess water, flour, or sugar leftover from past culinary experiments. I find the recipe on page 353: Basic Pastry for 8-inch, 9-inch, and 10-inch crusts. Very simple, yet always perfect. Flour, salt, shortening (yes, shortening) and ice water. Chill overnight, then roll.
And the rolling is my favorite part. Flour softer than the finest silk sifts effortlessly through my fingers onto the pastry board. I smooth it in circles, first clockwise, then counterclockwise. I pat the dough, the hard, cold dough, first on one side, then on the other. Then roll. And roll. And roll some more. As I roll, I get lost in the repetitiveness of the action, thinking of the trivialities of my day. Thinking of my future dreams. Thinking of my past Thanksgivings. Thinking of what I’m thankful for. The usuals: my family, my friends, my health. The not so usuals: double-sided tape, high thread count sheets, lycra, cumin. I rub more silky flour on the rolling pin and continue to roll, my mind continuing to drift. In between memories I check the thickness of the dough. When it’s sufficiently thin, I transfer it, in one fell swoop, to the waiting pie pan. From there, routine takes over. The fillings are poured, scooped, placed, ever so gently in their respective crusts.
I stand back, admiring my work. Perfect pies, waiting to be baked. Thanks, Alice, for giving me the reason to make the pies once again.