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November 22, 2006
Rounding them up wasn't easy, but two out of three granddaughters (there are three if you count best friend Ellen, which we do for baking orgies) came to bake this afternoon. We had some tasks before us: apple sauce and cranberry sauce, plus three pies -- or is it four? A lot, anyway.

Rosie arrived first and began turning out pie crust: the same recipe, over and over again in the aged Cuisinart, flour and butter tumbled together with ice water until it formed promising dough balls, which went into the icebox to rest up. Then she mixed up the pecan pie filling and began to roll. By then Ellen had arrived, and the pecan pie shells were ready to be filled. Now the girls could turn their attention to the apples.

Of course, our orgy of baking had to be sandwiched among my visits to doctors. All the apple-peeling happened during my stint at the first doctor, and so did the baking of the pecan pies. The apple ones went in while I was visiting the second, and I returned home to find them done, tall and brown and juicy and just gorgeous. So I did hardly any work.

It is lovely to see my Rosie roll out a piecrust. She is smooth and sure, expert. Not everyone knows how to do that today. It is fun to see the girls follow a recipe themselves. I remember the years when I had to measure things out for them, when they were unsure of how to do things, of how things should look. In the old days, they might take a turn with the rolling pin, but I had to run it. Today? I didn't touch it once.

And best of all, most joyous of all: they learned the same way I learned: from the women who love them.

Cooking with the next generation brings the beloved past ones back to life. Their ancient flour sifters still sift flour. Their potato mashers do the job just fine. Their dented measuring cups need no improvement. We didn't use a Cuisinart to make pie crust when I learned; there was yet no such thing. But I learned how the dough should look back then, and that hasn't changed.

Your crust is lovely, I told Rosie as she rolled out the first ball of dough. And it was: perfect, elastic, able to roll thin and yet to survive the delicate transition from wooden pastry board to pie plate. And then, with all the pies filled and the last ones baking, the limited attention span of adolescence reasserted itself in the young bakers. In the twinkling of an eye, they were gone.
Debbie from the Hodgepodge, Deacon J, Carol from Ways of the World, Buddy the Voice of the eMos, Matt the Web Dude, Q, the cats and me: we all wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. Have a happy day; God is so good.
Piecrust isn't hard. Take 2.5 cups of flour and out it into a large bowl or into the bowl of a food processor. Then cut up 3/4 cup butter and put it in there,too. Add a pinch of salt and maybe 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cover foodprocessor and pulse 8 or 9 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add about 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse ten more times. If it hasn't formed a ball after about 10 pulses, add a little more water and it will. When it's collected itself into a ball of dough, divide the ball in half and wrap each half in pastic wrap.Chill in refrigerator for half an hour or more.

To roll it out, flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin -- not a ton, just enough so the dough won't stick. You can add more flour to the surface or the pin as you go. Set a ball of dough on the floured surface and flatten it slightly with your hand, then begin to roll it with the pin, changing directions to keep it round. Stop when it's about two inches wider than your pie plate. Carefully lift one edge, sliding a dull knife underneath it to lift, and begin to roll it up, continuing to use the knife to coax the dough off the floured surface. When it's about half rolled up, lift the whole thing into the pie plate and open it out. Voila! You can also roll it back up on your rolling pin.

If you can't bring yourself to try it, start thinking now of whom you might ask to allow you to watch this operation. You won't be sorry.
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