Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beware What the Cook Won't Eat

I'm off to visit family for a few days. This was written long ago when my granddaughter was small (now she's 9) and I knew next to nothing about blogging. I posted half a dozen entries in one day and this one got lost in the shuffle. Because of the time of year I am trotting it back out.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m making a pie. “Can I help?” asks Fia. At three, she’s interested in being part of any cooking going on.

“Sure,” I say and we push up our sleeves, haul out flour and sugar and spices, find the rolling pin and two pie plates (one for each of us) and get to work.

She clambers onto a kitchen stool and leans her elbows on the table. “One, two, shtree,” she counts as we measure half-cups of flour and shortening into a bowl. I cut in the shortening, add the water, and mix the dough into a lump. I pull off a small piece and hand it to her. She presses it between her small hands. “We’re making pies, right Memere?” she beams. “I love pies.”

She nibbles a bit of the dough and makes a face, then watches as I sprinkle flour on the table. “Uh oh,” she says. “Memere, you’re supposed to put it in the bowl.”

I explain that I need it on the table so that when I roll out the crust it won’t stick. “Oh,” she says and helps me by spreading the flour all the way to the edges of the table and onto the floor.

I let her use the rolling pin first. Her small ball of dough rolls right around the pin. She picks it off, balls it up, and starts again. While she is busy, I measure pumpkin, milk, and spices into another bowl.

“Let me do it,” she begs when I take up an egg to crack. She whacks the egg on the edge of the bowl and drops the whole thing in. “Ick,” she says. I pick out the shells. When I hold the second egg out to her she shakes her head.

She scrapes her pie crust off the table and plops it in her dish, then kneels on the stool and puts her whole weight on her hands as she presses it flat. “How’s this?” She holds the plate up for inspection. The dough falls on the floor. She scrambles down, picks it up and blows on it. Flour dust puffs into the air. “It’s okay,” she assures me. “It was on the floor for not even one minute.”

I roll my own crust and fit it in the plate, crimping the edges carefully. Fia watches, then tries to crimp her own crust. When she is through, there is just room in the center for a dab of pumpkin mixture. I pour the remaining pumpkin filling into my pie shell and slide the pies into the oven. Fia helps me set the timer.

The kitchen looks like the aftermath of a fight in a flour mill. There is white dust on every surface, bits of sticky dough on the table, the floor, and Fia's chin, and spatters of pumpkin on the table and the stove. We fetch the broom and the dustpan. I sweep while Fia wipes off the table. I sweep again. When the last dish is dried and put away and the floor is clean enough to eat from, we turn on the oven light and check the pies.

“They look delicious,” I say to Fia. “We can eat yours tonight and save mine for Thanksgiving dinner, okay?”

Fia looks at her pie. She looks at me. “You can have it, Memere,” she says. “I just only like making pies. I don’t like to eat any.”


Molly said...

What a smart little girl! Even if she didn't want to eat it, I'll bet she has great memories of that baking session.....

steven said...

pauline i love this magic. i love the magic of children - it's what keeps me teaching. i love the magic of my own children - it's what makes a question like this - asked one hour ago: "do you like being a dad?" - very very easy to answer!!! thanks for posting this one. steven

Vincent said...

Wonderful, every word of it.

Pauline said...

She is a very smart little girl, Molly. I don't know if she remembers this day but we've had lots of marvelous adventures since :)

Steven - magic is the right word. Love is magic, isn't it? Not rabbit in the hat magic - more like turn an elephant into a chandelier magic ;)

Vincent, I thank you.

Barbara said...

So how does she feel about pumpkin pie today? Do you think she would remember this pie-baking collaboration? Maybe you'll get a chance to find out!

herhimnbryn said...

P She will remmeber this time with you. More precious than gold.

Jo said...

Awwww.... Love it. I have special memories like that too.


Pauline said...

Barbara, she doesn't remember that specific time but she laughed when she read this.

HHB - we have had some marvelous times together. What we both remember is the strength of the bond between us :)

Precious, aren't they Jo?

Hayden said...

I LOVE this. I am constantly frustrated by people who are "afraid of food." they don't cook more than they have to in order to heat something, and they don't try anything new. I think it all starts when they are shooed away from the kitchen for making a mess.

As an adult I've wondered about the mess I must have routinely made in my mom's kitchen.... but she always made room for me, let me "help," and made me feel like I was contributing.

To this day I think of cooking as an expression of love, and welcome all to my kitchen and my table.

Pauline said...

As a kitchen should be, Hayden - full of love and good food and friendship. Thanks for stopping by.

riseoutofme said...

Happy Thanksgiving Pauline!