Our Thanksgiving Eve tradition continues: cursing, confusion, and clutter fill the kitchen as Laurel labors to make an apple pie that, precisely 365 days ago, she swore would never darken her culinary door again.
Yet, it did. We have been invited to share Thanksgiving with some friends. They are doing most of the cooking but gave us a few choices about what we could bring to the table. Salad. Rolls. Dessert.
Laurel told them that she’d bring dessert. More precisely, an apple pie. And not a store-bought pie. A home-made pie. The stage was set for disaster.
Last night I initially watched the drama play out from a safe distance. Me and my newly wi-fied laptop were happily blogging away on a table near enough to the kitchen to vicariously share in the pie-making experience, but not so close that I’d feel drawn to actually help out.
Apple preparation via our nifty slicing and coring machine went smoothly enough. Act I of “Laurel Makes a Pie” always does. That’s when the actors come on stage, establish their roles, and get set up for the climactic scene where dastardly whole wheat crust meets the lovely lady with a pie pan.
Every year Laurel forgets how much she despises the pre-made crust that she buys, every year, from the natural food store. Hope (or memory loss) springs eternal as she spoons the apple slices into the bottom crust and then tries to mold the top crust into the appearance of a pie.
It always falls apart. First, the crust. Then, Laurel’s composure. The sound of mildly irritated mutterings start to intrude into my blogging-focused brain. They morph into louder obscenities.
I look up from my computer and see that my wife has begun to pull off the top crust onto some waxed paper where, she dreams, it will be possible to reassemble it.
I know that this won’t happen. Yet the annual kitchen Kabuki Play must take its stylized course. We must each act out our assigned parts, Laurel, me, the crust, until the final curtain falls.
The cursed crust, of course, cannot be pieced together. It has to be formed into a ball and rolled out. Even then, the whole wheat crust remains recalcitrant, an evil (though healthy) force that maintains its malicious power even when caged in a hot oven.
For in its death throes the crust still manages to commit one last act of malevolence: allowing the bubbly filling to spill over onto the bottom of the oven. “Oh, no!” Laurel screams, turning on the light and peering through the closed oven door.
The words are familiar. I heard them last year. I ever so gently suggest that placing a baking pan beneath the pie might have been a good idea. Just as I said last year. Ah, I so love Thanksgiving traditions.
While the pie was baking (and bubbling) Laurel made another crust from scratch. “Why didn’t I do this the first time?” she asks. “My crust always turns out better than the store-bought crust.” True. As always.
I take over the apple slicing/coring chore. Juice and shredded peelings begin to litter the floor. It all feels so right, so déjà vu’ish. I’ve been here before and I’ll be here again. It’s the wheel of life, turning.
It takes us a while to get the second pie in the oven. We’re afraid of setting off the smoke detector, so we keep opening and closing the oven door, letting a manageable amount of the black cloud escape each time. We open an outside door and the kitchen window.
Just like last year. I expect, just like next year.
The second pie looks great. You’d never mistake it for store-bought, and that’s the way it should be. Natural. Irregular. Organic. We decide to freeze most of the first pie. Have to sample it though.
Yum! Excellent. The crust, though undeniably evil, is as flaky and light as a whole wheat crust can be. As we sit down to enjoy an always-enjoyable episode of “Lost,” the spirit of thanksgiving settles around us.
The neighborhood deer are thankful that they’ve got an extra pile of apple cores and peelings to eat today. And we’re thankful that the smoke detector never went off, which would have necessitated a hasty “Just cooking a pie” phone call to Honeywell Security.
More tradition: last Thanksgiving I shared some cartoons for carnivores. Figured I might as well mention them again. If you’ve got a turkey on your table, please thank it for giving up its life for your pleasure.