Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Pie Crust and Blueberry Pie

So..this isn't what I would typically write about as someone who writes novels and helps people create the life of their dreams, but its something that is so totally a part of who I am. I thought I would share it with my readers so you could know perhaps a different side of me.

I LOVE  to bake and cook! As a young girl I would make cookies for my father and brothers every weekend.  My Mom was always the pie chef and I was always the cookie baker.  My Mom's pies always turned out fabulously.  Every Thanksgiving she would hand make her own dough and have at least 10 different pies on the table for her friends and family to sample.

I never really took an interest in baking pies all through my 20's because I don't really like to eat pie. I thought to myself, "why should I make them if I don't like to eat them!" lol!

That all changed when I was in my late 30's.  I bought this big, beautiful, 100 year old colonial house in Holland, New York.  Its a small town just outside of Buffalo.  When I moved there people embraced me like I had lived there my entire life.  It was like a flash back to Mayberry and Walton's Mountain. 

I watched the Waltons faithfully as a young girl and always wanted a large family of my own to raise and cook and bake for.  I immediately connected with the town and my house soon became a central gathering place for my friends, family and neighbors.  I couldn't have been happier. 

It was then that I embarked on my personal "homemade pie crust challenge."  I mean, how hard could it be right?  Afterall, I had baked cakes that took eight hours to put together - certainly I could make homemade pie crust that had very few ingredients!

And who did i turn to for my pie crust recipe? Well, Martha Stewart of course.  The woman who was my role model for "homemaking."  Back then she was anyway. Not so much anymore.

I decided that I was going to go for it and offer to make a pie for the Holland Tulip Festival.  A festival the town had each year.  Of course, I couldn't just experiment on my family - nope! Had to go one step further and bake a pie for the community! Can I ever do anything small?  Nope!

Well, I am happy to report that the pie was a huge success! I made Martha Stewarts mile high apple pie.  It was a picture perfect apple pie! I was soooo happy!

I spent three, very happy years in my home in Holland. It was warm, loving and secure.  And everytime I made pies in the summer and for the holidays, they always turned out like a picture in a magazine and they were delicious! "So says my family anyway!"

It turns out that I never did have that large family of my own, but I have a great family of mother, father, brothers and sister, nieces and nephews and friends that are considered family. Oh yes, and my three little furry friends (my cats - Ben, Bailey and Bella!). 

Someday I will write a book about the town of Holland and perhaps it will become my own version of Walton's mountain and my readers will understand what I mean.

My successful pie baking came to a screaching halt when I moved back into suburbia! Hahahah!
Suddenly, every pie I baked came out with the bottom crust not being completely cooked.  It got so bad that it started to become a family joke! I was not happy about that at all! If its one thing I can do - is bake! And I will not let a silly old pie crust ruin my baking reputation!

So, now after several years of saying - the hell with it and buying premade pie crust, I am back at it again!  Why? I don't know.  I think its my need to refocus and remember the simpler things in life that once made me happy - baking, home, cooking.  I know "she" has been hiding..somewhere amidst supporting my mother through breast cancer, a house that burned, unemployment, writing my first novel and some other more recent family challenges.  I find myself yearning for those things that ground me the most - my home and everything that I associate with home and family.

And perhaps its the changing of the seasons from summer to fall.  This is my favorite time of year with all the luscious berries and the fresh vegetables at the farmers markets! Oh! I walk into the market and all my senses just soak it all in and it just makes me want to cook and bake! The sun shines brightly on a saturday morning and you walk right through smelling fresh scent of newly picked dill and basil... ohhh.. and the bountiful vegetables and the brightly colored gladiolas! 

Anyway..back to the pies! My girlfriend and I took a trek out to the East Aurora farmers market this weekend and I bought fresh blueberries and peaches!  And I made a blueberry pie for the party I was invited to saturday evening.  The house was full of that smell of freshly baked berry pie.  The sweetness of the berries, mixed with the butter and sugar.  The crust flaky and golden brown!

So how did the crust turn out? Well, not bad for the first go around.  It looked great out of of the gate, but when I went to roll it out , the dough seemed a bit too dry.  But! I worked with it! I was determined! In the oven it went and the crust did look like that perfect golden, brown color! I was thrilled! And then I went to take it out of the oven to see how the bottom crust was fairing and the berry drippings went all over the bottom of the oven! Ugh!  "They" say that you should put a cookie sheet under the pie when cooking it because berry pies tend to drip, but I wanted to make darn sure that bottom crust cooked!

As I was taking the pie out of the oven and investigating the bottom, I turned to see little flames in the oven where the berry drippings were! Omg.. can you believe it! Its like candid camera right?!  Well, for those readers who know me personally, you know I had a house fire in this same house not three years ago! Those little berry flames scared me a little bit but I just blew them out and turned off the oven and all was well again! lol! Phew!

How funny is that story! My family will just have fun with this one! That is if I decide to tell them! or if they read my blog!

Was I successful? In fact I was! My neighbor text me this morning to say that the Blueberry Pie was a smashing hit! Perhaps I am on my way back! To the cook and baker I was and perhaps a little bit of that "girl" who is grounded a bit in home and all that goes with it!

Here's to celebrating the fruits of the season! Enjoy

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Different Kind of Writers Block

I am a writer, yes I am.  However, some days the words don't come.  The words haven't come in over a week. Why does this happen we ask ourselves? One would think that in times of great emotion, the words would come pouring out. Well, sometimes the emotion is so overwhelming the words get buried. They hide until the heart begins the healing process. I cannot remember the last time I didn't write my Morning Pages for an entire week! 

The Morning Pages are a routine, no, a meditation or "practice" of sorts. In no way are they routine that would minimize them to brushing your teeth or something so mundane.  That would devalue them.  The Morning Pages are something I learned from my fourth grade sunday school teacher, Sharon Jackson.  An amazing woman in so many ways, sometime I will tell you about her.  I had the good fortune to be able to reconnect with her as an adult before she died of lung cancer. I only had three visits with her, but those visits were life impacting for me. 

I was at a transition point in my life at the time and Sharon asked me.. "Kim, what would you like to do."  I laughed and said, you know.. I have so many dating stories, I bet I could write some great romance novels! I laughed at the thought.  And she replied, "then you should do it!" It was then she told me about Julia Cameron, her book the Artists Way and the Morning Pages.  Three, free-hand pages that are written each morning, to keep your writing alive.

I began writing those pages in 2005.  I write them in Composition Notebooks like we would use in school as children.  I haven't stopped writing them for any length of time up until this past week.  Sure, I would miss a day here or there but never a full week.

What happened you ask? 

Somebody that has recently re-entered my life for a short time has died.  It was someone who I was never particularly close with when I first met them 14 or so years ago.  These last few months with this person and the challenges we faced together, were life changing for me. I want to thank Him for his courage and his love of his daughter, I want to thank him for teaching me patience and for all his help through a difficult situation.

I am happy to be writing again and to be reunited with my Morning Pages this morning. 

To all of those out there who are writers, artists, painters, I know you understand my words and how much we "feel" our lives.  That is why we do what we do.

The words find their way back to us, the paint brush picks its new colors, the sculptor picks up the clay and life begins again.

Good Night