“I have the touch.”
Sometimes when I walk around on errands and see young adolescents in the mall or wherever, I feel a little sorry for them because they look a bit lost and bored. My impression is that they spend an awful lot of rather unfulfilling time entertaining themselves with TV, movies, video games, their cellphones and other techie toys and just wandering around the malls looking for something they know not what. I look at them and wonder, “Do you know how to do anything, to make anything?”
I mean, “Do you know how to build a fence, repair a car, sew a dress, knit a sweater, grow something to eat, create a work of art, cook something really delicious from scratch?” Anything like that can be a source of pride, and I wonder if these young people are deprived in this respect.
In a culture where it is so easy to buy everything, I still take pride in the fact that I can make about the best pie crust I’ve ever eaten anywhere. One third cup butter, one third cup of shortening, two cups of flour, one teaspoon of salt, and about five tablespoons of water, depending on the humidity. The magic is in the work with the pastry blender, the knowing how much water is just right, and the skill with which you roll the dough out so that the baked crust is flaky rather than tough. I have the touch.
This afternoon to escape from too much brain work at the computer, I decided to bake a pecan pie. When I set about the task, I discovered that I would need to substitute whole wheat for a portion of the all-purpose flour required and blackstrap molasses for corn syrup. (I need to go shopping.) So the filling recipe went like this:
1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter, four eggs, 1 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups of pecans. You cream the sugar and butter together, add the eggs one at a time and then put everything else together, pour it into the pie shell (which I had already baked at 350 degrees for about seven minutes) and bake for about 50 minutes. Not complicated.
What emerged from the oven was unusually dark as a result of the molasses and the whole wheat crust. I already knew that I like molasses, so I figured that I would enjoy it, and sure enough I did about five hours later after eating my homemade zucchini soup for dinner. As I tasted it, I realized that it wasn’t as sweet as usual and had a pleasant robustness about it.
So then I had the pleasure of not only having done my usual fabulous job on the pastry but of having created, as a result of a sparse pantry, something new. I decided that it was a manly pie, not a feminine pie full of colorful fruit and pastel custards fluffed up with whipped cream, but a dark, rich, muscular pie with nuts. And when I slice up and freeze the remainder, it will become my emergency pie. My manly emergency pie. I feel safe.