Aunt Emma's Never Fail Pie Crust

3 c sifted flour
1 1/4 c Shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt.
Combine egg, water, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon until flour is all moistened.
It can be re-rolled without toughening. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks or divide into balls enough for one pie and wrap in Saran wrap and freeze indefinitely.

Makes 2 crusts

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Aunt Emma's Pie Crust Recipe

I suppose I should explain the Pie Crust reference.
  I grew up in the 50's and 60's with a mother who seemed to have embraced the concept, "Why make it from scratch when I can take home this box?" (substitute the words can, frozen item, etc.)  One of her quick stand-bys for dinner was opening a can of Chef Boyardee Spaghetti, adding it to a skillet of browned ground beef and calling it Goulash. You get the idea.

  Imagine the impression I got when Aunt Emma and Uncle Paul would visit from out of town.  (I didn't know the history immediately, but at one point in their lives they ran a restaurant in Durango, Colorado. At another point they owned a cattle ranch in Wyoming. My aunt cooked for all the ranch hands. On a wood-burning stove.) Aunt Emma would take over our kitchen, and she would commence hours of cooking and baking.  I never saw a recipe. We made bread dough and shaped it into loaves and rolls. We MADE noodles and let them dry on tea towels.  And we made pie. Mother called this "gourmet cooking".

  I was young and ignorant and thought pie came from the freezer.  I thought pie was the somewhat scorched pumpkin filled dish that appeared at Thanksgiving. And I didn't
like it. 

  Occassionally my family would visit my mother's relatives in Michigan.  My grandmother made rhubarb pie by hacking rhubarb stalks off of a plant in the back yard.  She sat her porch with a pie plate containing an unbaked shell in her lap, trimming pieces of rhubarb into the dish until it was full.  She would dump a lot of sugar (again, no recipe) and a little butter over top, lay another rolled out sheet of dough on top of that and put it in the oven.  I probably didn't like it when I was young, but by the time I was becoming an adolescent, I know I had fallen in love with rhubarb pie.

  But it was Aunt Emma that took the time to teach me. She typed the recipe on an index card for me.  From then on I was the family pie baker.  I decided it was my job to keep my mother from purchasing pie from the freezer at the supermarket. I would make pie whenever requested.  It was almost always pumpkin (I still don't really like it), but I would make anything anyone wanted.  Pecan was a big hit. The cherry with a lattice top was pretty.  On the peach I carved a leaf motif in the top crust.

  And so a tiny seed was planted.  It was not well tended. I tried some cooking in my twenties but by the time I had a daughter, and a second husband, I was cooking very similarly to how I'd grown up.  I am embarrassed to say this.  I've blossomed recently and will never go back. When you find yourself planning vacations around finding good food and wine, I think probably the roots have taken a firm grasp.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Today I bought 2 Dorie Greenspan cookbooks at I can hardly wait to open their covers.