Pies – A Family Tradition.

Women in our family have a tradition with pies. 

My Grandma Virtue was a great pie maker.  She knew the recipe for good crust by heart from many years of experience.   Grandma worked in the kitchen at the Whiteside County old folks home.  There she was known for making pies for the residents.  She also insisted on making pies when she would volunteer at the soup kitchen with her oldest son.  Our family of course enjoyed her pies when we gathered for Thanksgiving.   It was important to her that folks has a piece of good pie, be they the elderly, the poor, or her family.   

I can remember stopping by the family place one time when heading back to Minnesota after a trip to visit my mom.  We tried to plan our return trip such that we could make a quick stop to visit my Great Aunt and Uncle.   On this trip, Aunt Leola had 3 pies, rhubarb, berry and the third escapes me.  The crust in these pies were likely made with lard and they were flakey. 

My mother never mastered the traditional pie crust, but she became the queen of the oil crust.   A pie crust that used liquid vegetable oil and is rolled out in between layers of wax paper.   It was her signature pie crust.

For years I hosted Thanksgiving.  Family and friends would come from near and far to our home.   My house would be full for than just one meal, many of my guest would stay for the whole weekend.  I used this an an opportunity to make pies.  Lots of pies.  One pie for every two people.   Enough that you could expect to eat pie with every meal all weekend, including breakfast.  Pumpkin, apple, rhubarb, pecan, French silk, blueberry, were a few of what you could expect. 

I am carrying on a tradition, grandmother, mother and now me.   Thanks to all the women before me in my family who baked pies,  who gave me the belief that I too could be a master pie maker.

By Diana @ Looking Out the Window Posted in Cooking Tagged

To Grandmother’s House We go

Currier & Ives Classic

This time of year makes me think of the seasonal classic song, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…”  Growing up Thanksgiving was a  wonderful holiday and gave  me some of my best family memories.  It was a holiday all about family, gathering and being thankful for our blessings.   

Our family gathered  at Grandmother’s house, and most traveled some  distance to make it home for the holiday.  Our family only one town away from Grandpa & Grandma’s place so we would arrive first.  The highlight of the day was to hear my Grandma say with a smile in her heart that  the Rosses have just pulled in, that the DeMoney family was here, Ron & John were unloading or that the  Virtues with the boys had arrived.   She loved it when the whole  family came home.

Our family gathering included much more than my grandparent’s  children and grandchildren. It would also include like-family friends like Aunt Hermine and Uncle Raymond who were not actually family, but to us they were.  Then there were  work co-workers and other friends who did not come for the full day, but would stop by later in the day to check in like Alice and Buck, who each had their own family.

My Grandma loved to cook. Most of the cooking for this holiday fell to my grandma.  She would cook the turkey and ham, the potatoes, stuffing and of course all the pies.  The rest of the family would bring side dishes.  This resulted in a feast fit for a king, but in no way would all fit on a small kitchen table. So as much of the dinner as possible would be on the table, with overflow on  the counters  and  the stove.   You would pick up your plate and move around the kitchen filling your plate in the finest smorgesboard style.

Grandma and Grandpa’s house  was little house with a kitchen, a TV room and a living room.  This holiday would stretch it to the  limit, sort of like frat boys stuffing a phone booth.    There was no Norman Rockwell gathering at a single table.   No sir, the men came first and filled their plates and returned to the TV room to watch the football game.   The kids came next filling their plates with mothers asking their children wouldn’t they like to try this salad your aunt brought or that you could not only eat mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.   Then the kids  would head to the front  room with words of caution not to spill, or one year we ate outside at the picnic table.   The women would then sit down at the kitchen table and fill their plates and catch up on the world.

It was a grand time where the whole family reconnected.  Men bonded in their man way in front of the TV.  The women talked and talked.  The kids we were a big enough group to play any game that we choose.

My grandparents are both gone now, along with my Aunt Linda.  The family is no longer geographically close enough that we can all drive “home” in a day, we have scattered much wider.  The cousins are now all grown up, with children and a few grandchildren.  We may not gather together any longer, but we are still all wrapped with the warm memories of Thanksgivings past.

Soup Season

Hearty Turkey Noodle Soup

Now that autumn is over and it is darn cold outside we have entered soup season.  That time of the year when a bowl of soup sounds good and we are sure it will take the chill out of our bones.

Here in Montana we are heading into a particularly bad cold snap and I am thinking of all the different kinds of soups I might make in the upcoming week.  I have a ziplock of some old turkey that could be made into a vegetable turkey noodle.  I bought some leeks my last visit to town and could make a creamy potato soup with them.  There is a yam in my potato bin, and some sausage that I could turn into a spicy cuban black bean soup.

They all sound good right now as a sit here writing huddling under my afghan.

Update:  I decided on the turkey noodle soup for tonight.  I forecast more turkey in my future.

Not a Hoarder, but I Am My Mother’s Daughter

When you were a child did your mother save the bows and boxes from gifts for future use?   Was your mother one of those extremist who didn’t want you to tear gift wrap because it was so beautiful  and she could iron it and use it again?   Did someone in your family save every plastic bag  not just bread, but dried beans, and noodles?  When your parents or grandparents moved from the home they lived in forever,  did you find  collections of things they were saving for a rainy day (twist ties, corsage pins, & plastic flower pots, you know what I mean), and sent those years of careful collecting and neatly storing to the trash?

Do you find that it is hard for you to throw things away?    Is your collection of junk not as extreme as Great Aunt Addie, or Grandpa Jones, but you do have one.   I would argue that many of us are hoarders by our upbringing.   I am not talking the hoarding that you see on TV, but I am not so sure I want a TV camera to come show you my collection of stuff either.

Today it is a little gloomy outside and I have decided that it is time for some things to go.   I am not deluding myself that it will all be gone, or that I won’t keep stuff that honesty I should get rid of but  I am going to spend two hours today moving some of my saved stuff out. 

Our house sitter just moved into a new place.   I am giving her the table I bought for my first apartment.  I can’t remember the last time I used it, but it has been stored in no less than 8 houses.    I have been married for 30 years, and I bought it before then.    It is time for it to be useful again.

I just did two, the maximum, listings on free cycle for a couple of things.  Yards of fabric from the seconds warehouse that I stocked up on years ago, planning to make clothes, curtains and even slip covers.   It is going to find a new home.   A great opaque projector that I have used only once since I lived in Montana, eight years.  Other than one time all it has done is collect dust.  

I just sent a bunch of books to my Salvation Army box.   I likely bought many of them when I taught quilting and now only need to keep those I want for personal enjoyment.   If I am not inspired by a quilt book, I am not keeping it,     Someone else will want it, and be inspired, only then is it good book.  

I did manage to fill half a black garbage bag of stuff.  It was hard to say my stuff really is junk and should be thrown out.  If I haven’t used it by now, I likely won’t.   I threw out used bows and tissue paper, my gifts can have new.   I recycled old shoe boxes, as I don’t think I will need them for school projects any more at this point. The shoes that came with those boxes have long since been worn out.

What I learned today  is I am my mother’s daughter, thrifty, crafty, and sentimental.  I need more free time than I have if I am going to get everything done I want to do.  So I must choose which things to save that I will make time for, and let go of the rest.   One two-hour exercise at a time.

Still Waiting

It seems to me there is lots of social upheaval.  We hear a lot about this segment or that group of society saying they want to have equal rights, or to protect their rights.   All I can say is good luck!  Women have been seeking equal rights for years and we haven’t managed to constitutionally secure them.

The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote.  Almost right on the heels of that Alice Paul (see the DVD Iron Jaws for more on Alice), tried secure an amendment that would make sure women had all the same rights as men.   It never got anywhere near becoming law until 1972 when the Equal Rights Amendment passed and needed 38 states to ratify it to make a change to the constitution. This was never ratified.  There is nothing that constitutionally protects the rights of women.

I am a woman and just old enough to remember separate help wanted woman and help wanted man classified ads.   I can remember wanting to be a civil engineer and knowing that it was a barrier to break.  Civil engineers were not women.   I once applied to work in a traditional man’s job in the days of Ma Bell, I wasn’t particularly welcome.  I remember a company I worked for used the Haye Point system to move toward equal pay for equal work, no more better pay just because you were a man.

In 1963 legislation was passed that declared equal pay for equal work.  As a result of the civil rights act in 1964  I am protected from discrimination based on my gender.  These two pieces of legislation would improve my life personally.   I have had career opportunities that my mother could not have imagined, just one generation before. I would become a professional with a career making a salary that allowed financial independence.

In spite of these legislative changes and overall changes in our societal norms, I am old enough to know that we still have far to go as women.  There is nothing constitutionally that protects  all the rights for women.   I like to think that if there were something tested in the courts today, they would interpret the “man” in the constitution to be all “humankind.”    But as it stands today we would be dependent on Supreme Court.

I can still see that ERA cup on my desk in the 70’s; the the disappointment in 1982 when the time to ratify it expired.   In spite of feeling equal, sometimes  when I hear about this group or that group looking for changes to the law or constitution to  protect their rights, I can’t help but feel skeptical.   If we can’t protect the rights of half the people in this country, I don’t have high hopes for them.

Winter Arrives

Harley in the first snow

Today our mild fall weather ended and winter settled in with full force.  After a long warm fall, I woke up to a snow covered landscape.   Though the first day of winter is more than a month away, the blanket of snow covering the golden grasses of fall.   Winter is here.

When a Camera Just Won’t Do

The last few mornings have been pretty spectacular.  I have tried to capture what I was seeing on the camera, but it would not work.  No matter how I adjusted the camera, the pictures were not what I was seeing.   The colors of blue and pink sky were not the same.   The furry of the clouds caught on Mt. Fleecer was missing.  The crescent moon through the wisps of clouds wasn’t even close.   I wish I could share those moments in the morning that I have been seeing, but I am afraid it just isn’t going to happen.   I hope you will get up and see what the early morning sky in your neck of the woods looks like and has to offer you.

By Diana @ Looking Out the Window Posted in Seasons