Sunday, September 16, 2007


I've never understood why nobody in Spain makes or sells pies.

Adding to my confusion is the fact that the good people of France--a nation that borders Spain to the north--will dump just about anything into a pie shell, bake it and snarf it.

Having meditated on this curiosity for nearly eight years, I can only assume that the Spanish don't bake pies because they're using all of their pie plates to make paella.

Determined to lead the Spanish populace by example, I bought two Pyrex glass pie plates during my last trip to Chicago and brought them back here. My assumption, however, was that they would sit unused in my cabinet until such time as I moved back to the US or my home was burgled by a Frenchman--whichever came first.

But then I got a call from my neighbors yesterday suggesting that my daughter and I join them to pick wild blackberries.

Whoa! I saw an opportunity. Having recently picked MacIntosh apples with friends in Michigan, I was feeling quite in touch with my inner Grizzly Adams. Plus, I knew that six cups of blackberries would be enough to make a blackberry pie. So Pumpkin and I accepted the offer.

Little did I know, however, that picking six cups of blackberries is a task requiring six hours' labor and two pints of blood loss.

But we did, in fact, return with six cups of blackberries and today set about baking a pie--the first pie that either my daughter or I had ever attempted.

Now, I consider myself a pretty above average cook--especially when the menu is heavily skewed in the direction of dead animals. But baking has always been the weakest link in my armour. And today's project was a fitting example.

I used the pie crust recipe of a Polish-American grandmother whose baking skills I can vouch for--from third helpings of first hand experience. She makes a pretty mean czernina, as well.

But, unfortunately, her recipe was for one layer of pie crust and I needed two.

Simple enough, one would assume. Just double it.

Yes...but for me, doubling a recipe is a form of math. And for a lawyer who really wanted to be a gym teacher, math of any kind is fraught with danger.

And so it was that in the process of doubling this kindly Polish-American grandmother's cherished pie crust recipe, I remembered to double most of the ingredients--but not quite all of them. And to make matters worse, the ingredient that I forgot to double was milk.

Our end product was a gorgeous, gooey, deep-purple berry filling encased in...a sand castle.

Oh well. As I've so often told my niece and nephew, you have to screw up a recipe three times before getting it right. I've got two more shots at this pie crust before I'll get it right.

And when I finally get it right, who knows? Maybe I'll just dump a bunch of czernina into it, bake it and snarf it.


At 3:13 AM, Blogger an aussie in mondrag√≥n said...

I've never understood the lack of pies in spain either... although they do have empanadas (not so much up here in the wilds of Basque Country however).. love your blog!

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Michael said...

yeah but I'm sure you just dug the berries out and ate them, they're the best party anyways!

At 8:41 PM, Blogger tinakala said...

Baking screw-ups can`t usually be very bad, because they`re generally edible. Although they may not LOOK edible.

At 10:39 PM, Blogger christina said...

Well that looks like one mighty fine pie to me. Good for you guys to just get in there and do it.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Angie said...

I never really noticed the lack of pies in Spain, since I found more than enough calories to make up the difference! Abuela's rosquillas, YUM! I tried to recreate them once here, and the results were barely edible.

Your assistant chef is so adorable!

Hey, be glad you're not stateside right now. The major news networks have taken it upon themselves to provide us with non-stop O.J. Simpson coverage. It's 1994 all over again! Thank God I'm leaving the country on Sunday!

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Angie said...

By the way... I once made chocolate-chocolate chip cookies and didn't realize I'd left out the flour until I was spooning them onto the baking sheets. My mom walked in and asked why they were so runny. Apparently I'm too absentminded for baking. Don't even ask what happens when I try to double recipes. I feel your pain!

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Headless Blogger said...

Angie, and just what is wrong with wall-to-wall O.J. coverage? This could be just the career move that Mr. DeT is seeking, a full-time spot on Greta's legal panel.

BTW - Members of his posse call him Juice. Don't ask me how I know that.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Baking is not my strongest area either, although I think you did a pretty good job after all. Just spoon the yummy stuff out ;)


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