My mama’s kitchen was always full of activity. Evelyn Campbell was always cooking, canning, frying, baking, or fixing something to take to someone who needed food. There was always a fresh, homemade pie on the counter ready to share with neighbors who stopped by or for us to enjoy after one of her hearty, homemade suppers. Nothing says ‘welcome’ better than a homemade pie on the counter. And many a problem was solved while sharing pie and a cold glass of milk at our kitchen table.
I walked into the kitchen one day when I was a young teenager. She said, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here. Today I’m going to teach you to make pie crusts.” I said, “I don’t really want to learn to make pie crusts.”
I must have not looked or sounded extremely respectful when I relayed that information because she said, “Well, you’re going to learn anyway.” Then the lesson began. She demonstrated how to blend the flour, the Crisco, the little bit of ice water and then rolled it out onto the floured board and gently placed it in the pie pan and began crimping the edges with her thumb and forefinger.
I stood at her side and watched her, uninterested. Then I said again, “That’s good, Mama, but I don’t want to learn to make pie crusts.” Ignoring me she said, “Now you make one. I’m right here if you have questions. ” I began to sling flour into the bowl, stirring as exuberantly as I could to get it all mixed together so I could be on my way. I slopped that pie crust down onto the board with the gusto of a 17-year-old who plainly was not interested in pie crust making. I then rolled it so quickly that it broke into three pieces. I flopped them into the pie pan squishing all the pieces together in the bottom of the pan. I then clapped my hands together, dusting flour off my shirt to indicate I was definitely finished. All the while my mom stood beside me not saying a word.
When I finished this display of making my very first pie crust, she very calmly said, “Well, yes, that is a pie crust. And now you will continue to make pie crusts until you can make one with a good attitude… because I can freeze pie crusts.” I made NINE pie crusts that day. Today, as I bake pies and other goodies for our guests at our Bed and Breakfast, I am still amazed at the wisdom of my precious mother. She passed away in 2001 but there is never a day that goes by that I don’t miss her.
By Debbie Howard