My mother made amazing pie crusts. In fact, because it was so good, and because she taught my eldest sister how to replicate her goodness, and for many years she gave me packets of uncooked piecrust for my freezer, I never bothered to master the art.
Like millions of people across the country and around the world, I’ve decided it’s time to stretch my culinary muscles.
I mean seriously, I can whip up a four-course gourmet dinner with unpronounceable delicacies and intricate sauces. What on earth is keeping me from adding a perfect pie crust to my repertoire? It can’t be that difficult. Right?
Over the years, I have ventured into what I hoped would be pie crust heaven only to find myself in a hell of a mess. Dry crust. Too moist crust. Unrollable crust. Heavy, tough crust. I’ve made all the mistakes. Which probably accounts for the reason I generally opt for crusts I can pat into the plate without any need to roll the beastly thing out!
No more I told myself! It’s time to conquer my fear of pie crust hell.
On Saturday my odyssey began. I watched some videos. Checked out recipes and then got to work on making a crust for Chicken Pot Pie. Let me just say, the filling was excellent. The crust? Well… that’s a whole other story of woe.
I’m sure if my mother is watching from on high, she is rolling her eyes and cautioning me to follow the directions, treat it all with loving care and slow down. Be patient. Be kind. Be gentle.
It’s all your fault mom. The fact I don’t like following directions. The fact I tend to speed through things I don’t know how to do. The fact, I don’t like doing things I don’t know how to do!
Remember. You used to always get so upset with my need to ‘Do it my way’. As a teenager I enjoyed the tension that brought into our relationship a lot. In fact, I’d often do everything the way you didn’t just to make my point. I wasn’t you and didn’t want to be!
I mean seriously! I didn’t want to be you, but it’s all your fault I’m me. Hmmm… Now that made lots of sense.
Fact is, for many years, my litany of your faults made my life one big messy pie for which, albeit not true, I like to believe you were to blame. Things like, my inability to follow directions. My lack of being able to tell left from right. North from south. My poor discipline when it comes to weight loss. My untidy bedroom, even my unmade bed.
All of that was your fault. And don’t get me started on the big things… My failed relationships. My need for perfection. My fear of failure. Ooooh… that’s a biggy!
Yesterday, I decided to dive into my fear of failure by taking a second foray into blending flour, water and shortening into pie crust.
My second attempt is not perfect – rolling it out was still an anxiety-riddled adventure that resulted in a few patches here and there. But all in all, it isn’t too bad.
And that’s where I have to thank my mother. To get it all to roll together, I had to incorporate many lessons she taught me throughout my life.
To be patient in the face of my fears.
To incorporate kindness into everything I do.
And, to be gentle with the world around me.
My pie crust yesterday didn’t turn out as perfectly as I wanted, but then, life seldom turns out to be the perfect road we want it to be (just as our mothers could never be the maternal goddesses of our dreams). But life is always the road we need to travel to find ourselves right where we are and our mothers are always the perfect teachers of what we need to learn so that we can become the person we want to be.
Thanks mom. I know it’s not your fault my pastry crusts haven’t had the flaky tenderness of yours. Just as I know you’re not to blame for the challenges (and misadventures) I’ve encountered on my road.
To be clear, though, I give you full credit for the lessons you taught me on how to weather life’s challenges with patience and humility. And, I am forever grateful for the gift of love you gave me always. The gift that enriches my life every moment, because, no matter how challenging I was in our relationship or how many challenges I faced in my life, you taught me how to turn up in the world with kindness, grace and a heart full of love. Always.