A Bitter-Sweet Apple Pie — Mostly Sweet

on November 29, 2007

At 4:00 this afternoon I was faced with a tough decision. Do I leave work at 4:30 in order to make it to the Young Women’s activity or stay at work a few more hours and try and make a dent in the some of the overdue work that has continued to pile up on my desk? I remembered the things I had committed to bring to the activity so blowing it off ended up not being a very good option. Traffic was bad going home and it it was hard not to obsess over the things I left behind at the office.

I made it just in time to pick up one of the 12-year old girls and over to one of the other leaders house for an evening of pie making. It turned out that the girls had planned the activity because they wanted to learn to make pies, but the other leader (who was in charge) really didn’t know how herself. She did good on the pudding pies and 4 of the girls spent a lot of time crushing graham crackers. I brought ingredients for a fresh apple pie, which truthfully I haven’t made in a couple of years.

One very shy girl, Amanda, had been assigned by default to make the crust. Not really wanting to step on the toes of the other leader I kind of held back as she got out her red and white checkered Better Homes and Garden cookbook and gave Amanda a bag of flour and can of shortening. Amanda dutifully measured out the flour, put it into the bowl and then with the mixer that was provided, mixed her teaspoon of salt into the flour. I watched as she sat there quietly not quite knowing what to do next and pretending to look over the recipe. Since the other leader was busy peeling apples, either it was my old girls camp “head cook” persona came through, or my unused maternal instincts. But I went to Amanda’s side and began to teach her how to actually make a pie. I told her to measure out the shortening and explained how to cut the shortening in to make it crumbly. I left her to do that and assisted to cut apples. I watched her across the table until I could see her head raise and look at me with the “what do I do now?” look and I quietly walked over to her and told her how great and crumbly it looked. I then told her to measure out the water, letting the tap run until it was really cold, and put that in the crumbly mixture. I explained that it was best to use a fork to stir until she could form it into a ball with her hands. I explained that you didn’t want to overwork the pie dough because that is what made it tough and not flaky. I think it was my voice that told her that – but I swear it was my own mother’s voice coming out of my mouth in a gentle but authoritative tone. I went back to my apples, stopping for a bit to show the other 4 girls that it was much easier to crush graham crackers with a zip-lock bag and rolling pin than with a spoon. Amanda looked up again and I walked over to her bowl. She had the dough gathered nicely and I knew it would be a great crust. I gushed at how nice it was and not overworked at all. I divided the dough into 2 balls and dusted the rolling surface with flour and another dusting on the rolling pin. I gently started rolling out the dough showing her to start from the middle and work out going on all sides. I stood next to her as she rolled out the dough, a little apprehensively at first, but more confident as I told her she was fantastic. Together we put the pie crust in the tin and I left her to press it in to the pan being sure to let it hang over the edges. We were done with the apples so I had her add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice to the sliced apples and stir. I asked if she thought it needed more cinnamon and in her quiet voice she said “yes”. So I said, “well get the shaker and put some more in,” which she did. I said “maybe a little more” and she smiled and shook some more. We filled the pie shell and then I told her she could roll out the top. I stood by her as she dusted the rolling pin herself and rolled out the dough in perfect fashion by herself. Then together we gingerly lifted the fragile dough and topped the pie. I told her to press the edges together and then using a sharp knife trim the edges. Then remembering the little things my mother had taught me year before, I showed her how to flute the edges to make it pretty. Together we pinched the doughs edges and pushed with our thumbs to make the pie beautiful. After the fluting, I had her cut 2 slits in the top to vent and then dust it with sugar. One of the other girls was watching as said “hey that pie looks like it does in the pictures.” I agreed, it was beautiful, and I said so out loud.

While the apple pie cooked the others made pudding to fill their individual graham cracker crusts for the small cream pies that they would take home. We all laughed, talked, and told stories and I was so glad I was there with these incredible girls instead of at work.

The apple pie was done and we cut it still hot and we all ate a slice with a scoop of ice cream. Everyone loved it and I admit it really was the best apple pie I’d ever had. We all gushed at what a great job Amanda did. I told her she was the new “pie queen” and I’d be sure to let her mom know. Although this incredible girl is very accomplished musically and educationally, she smiled her embarrassed smile and I knew she was proud of what she’d done.

I can’t help but wonder if the pressures of school achievements, lessons, sports, and all other demands on them to make them better productive human beings really do actually do any more than a young girl standing by the side of her mother as she teaches her how to make a pie? I don’t know the answer. I don’t know if I had had the opportunity to have daughters if I would be more concerned with their school rankings than their cooking abilities. I suppose I would hope there is time for both.

Tonight I do feel a little tug at my heart for a daughter I don’t have to teach to make pies. I also feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Amanda’s quiet and sweet nature as she stood proxy and let me teach her.


3 responses to “A Bitter-Sweet Apple Pie — Mostly Sweet

  1. Laurel says:

    Oh, DeAnn….what if you had stayed at work and not gone? You were where you needed to be…and the Lord is absolutely using you to mother a whole bunch of girls. I hate it sometimes when people say that to me…but did you ever stop to think that He knew you were just too good to “spend” your mothering on just 2 or 3 or 4 of His kids? He needed you to influence MANY MANY more than that…and this is how He is able to do that…at least for now.
    You are good to the core and I adore you!

  2. Hollers says:

    What a mother you would make, Sweet De. But see how much God loves you? He let you have that moment even without everything else (including disciplining a 2-year-old for plugging the toilet with footy pajamas or taking away the phone for texting 537 messages in one month). I really, really, really adore you. And I’m suddenly craving pie …

  3. Red says:

    I have a little tear in my eye. You have such a way of putting me right in the middle of your heart and mind. Thanks for teaching me today, Sass… Love you.

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