My mom did not love to cook. She had her standards that were delicious — mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, Sunday roast — and the holidays were always filled with the best sweets when she toiled over divinity, whipped up some fudge and on my birthday, always the Oreo ice cream cake. But still, she didn’t love the job that was given to her by virtue of her time and gender.
One thing my mom did love to make, and was very, very good at were pies. Unfortunately for a very picky daughter, I did not like, and still do not, cooked fruit. So while I would chow down on her pecan pie at Thanksgiving, most of the time she focused on peach (her favorite), apple, apricot, and anything else that was in season. My mom did always throw me a bone, however, when she was making her favorite pies. And that is something I’ve been craving, pondering, and eventually, crying over.
When you make a homemade pie crust, after fitting it into the pie pan, you trim the edges leaving you with extra pie dough. My mom would always butter up the extras, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bake it up so we could enjoy it before the pie was baked and cooled. And for me, it was usually the only part of the pie I would eat.
I started thinking about that cinnamony-sugary-buttery goodness a few days ago and as I’ve been doing ever since I was diagnosed with celiac, thought about how I could make it gluten-free. And I stopped pretty quickly because a) gluten-free pie crust just doesn’t flake like the regular stuff, and b) I hate making gluten-free pie crust. Even from a box, I hate wrestling with the gf stuff that doesn’t stick together well, falls apart, and is constantly in danger of being over handled and coming out thick and unappealing. So when I do want a pie, I buy the gluten-free pre-made from Whole Foods. While this has solved my Chess, chocolate and pecan pie challenges, there’s nothing left over for the special treat my mom always made me. Yesterday I came to the conclusion that I would never, ever, have my mom’s pie crust treat ever again for the rest of my life.
I’m slow. The longing and sadness I was feeling over cinnamon-sugar pie crust bites, and my feeling that the loss is permanent coincides with the death of my mother three years ago today. Right.
I’ve always talked about food meaning more than sustenance for your body. It’s emotional, it’s love. So it’s not surprising the memory of a tasty gluten-filled snack my mom made just for us triggered such sadness at this time of year. No, my mom won’t be able to cut off the extra crust and put the little pieces of pie dough into a separate pie pan, coat them with butter and sprinkle a cinnamon-sugar mixture on top for me ever again. But I’m going to give it one more shot.
A pie-sized treat this time, because as I said I HATE MAKING GLUTEN-FREE PIE CRUST. Instead, I defrosted the Whole Foods one and just sliced it up.
Melted some butter, brushed it on. Sprinkled a mixture of sugar and cinnamon (3 parts sugar, 1 part cinnamon) on top.
Baked on 350 for 20 minutes.
The thing about gluten-free pie crust is that it doesn’t brown up. But it is tasty. So I immediately shared it with my own kids, who loved it.
It’s not my mom’s special treat made for me, it will never be, but it will carry on.