Trina Machacek: Some pie-in-the-sky thinking
I have made pie before. I make apple pie, peach pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, lemon pie, coconut pie, cherry pie, pecan pie … I’ve never made minced meat pie. I don’t even know what that is nor do I think I want to know.
I’ve been making pie since the first time my home economics teacher put two knives into my eager hands and explained how to mix shortening and flour. I have made pie for holidays, birthdays, pot lucks, just because it was Tuesday, contests and, sadly, for the meals after funerals.
So knowing all that, what could this one pie teach me, an all-knowing pie lady, I didn’t already know? Here’s the crust of the story —
It was a new recipe. OK, it was an out-of-the-box cheesecake, instant kind, without sugar. I topped it with a cherry concoction and viola! Cherry cheesecake. OK, it was cherry pie filling with 50 percent less sugar, from a can. But the crust. The crust is the star of this story.
Some time ago my other half thought we should buy extra food and store it. Actually, my parents gave him a vacuum sealer and he was just itching to use it. We bought all sorts of stuff to package in airless packaging for when the zombies come over the hill and we have to live on what we have stored away. Funny, we didn’t buy and vacuum pack toilet paper. I would think toilet paper would be an important thing to have on hand if zombies come over the hill to suck out your brains. But I’ve slid off the slimy zombie track …
OK, we had loads of stuff of which one item was a huge box of graham crackers. I don’t know why I bought graham crackers. I don’t like graham crackers much and have never had or made ‘smores. You sometimes just go with the flow even though you don’t know why. That’s usually called being a woman.
The box was too big to vacuum pack so I stuffed it in the freezer. It took up lots of room in the freezer and was moved around as other new freezer stuff was stuffed into the freezer. This summer when I couldn’t pull out that last package of frozen Italian green beans because they were encased in snow and ice, I decided to defrost the white monster in the garage. That was the first step taken toward the sugar-free instant cheesecake/pie that had a lesson to teach me.
I found that box of graham crackers, mashed a bit by the jostling that happens in a freezer. I took it in the house and put it in the cupboard and it sat there for a month or three and it got bounced around as it was not a usual cupboard item, until I decided to open it. The crackers were OK, but nothing special. Then I saw a pie crust recipe. I like pie. So a pie was in my cross hairs.
When I’m pie-ing I make a regular pie crust with flour and shortening. So making this graham cracker crust was kind of new. Headlong I went about it. First it called for, like, 16 crackers. Well there’s your problem! If you look at these crackers they’re scored into four sections. So is each section a cracker? Are two sections which look to be half a big cracker just one cracker? Or is one cracker considered one of these big four-sectioned crackers which would make 16 crackers or one-and-a-half packages of crackers?
“Be a grizzly,” I thought and used one-and-a-half packages of the crackers. They made a wonderful, albeit thick, crust. The pie/cheesecake was pretty darn good. To me the crust was the topper — uh, bottom best. Whatever! I filed this information away for the next time. Today turned out to be the “next time.”
I bought bananas a few day ago and they were looking spotty so instead of just watching them day after day get darker and darker I decided to make pie. Banana cream pie. I got all the stuff out — flour, shortening, instant sugar-free pudding. (Ya gotta cut calories where ya can)! Even knowing his favorite pie is banana cream, off-the-cuff I asked him what kind of pie he wanted. Without an extra breath he says one of those cherry cheesecake thingies. Gears meshed, brakes came on, smoke billowed …
Long story short, on auto I made the regular pie crust I planned. But I exchanged the puddings and made the cheesecake. Then just as I was opening the can of 50 percent less sugared cherries, I realized I didn’t make the graham cracker crust. Just plain pie crust. Took the wind out of my whole pie sail. Now that wrong-crusted pie is sitting in the fridge, unwanted. Oh, it will get eaten, but in protest of the wrong crust.
Moral here: You can’t change pies “mid-pie” or you end up with the wrong bottom. Or whatever!
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share with her at email@example.com.