I’ve written before about learning to cook at the side of my Grandmother. I’ve also written about the revelation that this same Grandmother, who has been responsible for preparing 3 meals a day, for a varying number of hungry mouths, for the past 70 years, actually hates to cook. My cousin and I always assumed that the fun things she let us do while helping her prepare food were meant to be, well, fun. For us. As it turns out they were often ways for her to make the process more interesting for herself, and if she was able to take a shortcut or two in the name of “fun” then all the better.
The “pissybed” is really just a free form pie. In France, it would fall under the header of “galette” if galette meant “shit, my pastry is crap today and isn’t going to roll out properly!” Because this kind of pie is usually what you end up with, albeit unintentionally, if your pie crust is crap. You can make them if your pie crust is fine, as was my Grandmother’s – and mine – but know that unless they get to taste it, people will think this is because your dough is a no-go. My Grandma wouldn’t know a galette from a whosit – there weren’t a lot of fancy French people in rural Nova Scotia. Well, there were once but the English shipped them off to Louisiana to become Cajuns.
I grew up reading and re-reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” series, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized that the pie plant she uses to make a pie for the field workers was actually rhubarb. (I think I imagined it to be eggplant, which we never ate as a kid.)
While we always had rhubarb in our house growing up, it usually got made into squares or stewed with sweet dumplings and after acquiring a pretty huge bunch a couple of weeks ago, I considered a pie. Turns out most of the rhubarb pie recipes I have are sour cream-based, which is odd to me. They’re probably good, but I dunno, something just doesn’t sound right. Greg always likes the strawberry rhubarb pie, although I am not a fan – I find it too mushy and wet.
Many of you are familiar with my pie dilemma. Like it, love it, don’t want to eat a whole one. With only Greg and I in our household, a whole pie never gets eaten, or it gets soggy, or we do eat it and feel fat and guilty.
So I bought little bitty 6-inch pie pans.
I wasn’t sure how many I’d be able to make out of a regular pie crust recipe, but what with rolling it fairly thin, which is much easier when you’re doing little crusts, I managed four.
This innovation also enabled me to make different flavours – strawberry rhubarb for Greg, apple for me. One to eat, the rest to pop in the freezer so there’s pie whenever we have a craving. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this years ago, but having *just enough* pie makes me very, very happy.
For all of my griping about how much smaller my new place is going to be, including the kitchen, there are a few things that actually please me a great deal. First and foremost, having a kitchen where your work triangle isn’t fifteen feet across. Getting from fridge to sink and back to stove in the apartment where I am now requires an awful lot of hoofing, and makes simple things such as draining pasta a precarious hike. I know most people want huge enormous kitchens with many bells and whistles and huge expanses of marble countertops and sinks every five feet and big bright windows, but I’ve lived with some of that and it’s not as sweet as it’s cracked up to be.
People go ga-ga over the expanse of windows in my current kitchen (it’s converted from a smallish room and an old, unheated sunporch) because it’s so bright and sunny, but the ongoing condensation from cooking constantly is causing the hundred-year-old window frames to rot and breed a weird greenish mildew. The one radiator in the room is in the far corner and doesn’t throw out enough heat to keep the area by the windows warm.
And for all of my devotion to my gas stove, it’s really reserved for the stove top. I’ve never been a fan of gas ovens, and truly can’t wait to get my hands on that brand new electric oven waiting for me at the new apartment. Oh, the things we’ll bake! Most gas ovens, you see, are incredibly uneven, making for poorly cooked baked goods. They also need re-calibration almost annually, as they tend to run either hotter or colder than where they’re set, temperature-wise. Electric ovens also have their broiler element at the top of the oven, not underneath it, as gas ovens do. Which means that this is the very last lemon meringue pie that I’m going to have to balance and juggle and *dance* with, as I get down on my knees to put in under the floor-level broiler to brown the meringue.