Remembering My Mother And Her Magic Pies

“The TSA agents are going to pull you aside and wrestle you to the ground,” my husband says.

“Don’t care. I’m packing it.”

My husband shakes his head and walks away, something he does often when I am what he calls “unreasonably stubborn.”

The “it” is my mother’s rolling pin. I have been asked to make the holiday pies at my in-laws this year and I refuse to do it without my mother’s rolling pin.

“But my sister will have a rolling pin! Or we can buy one when we get there,” my husband tries to reason with me.

“Not the same. I’m packing it.”

Another head shake.

My mother made pies for every special occasion. My father spurned birthday cakes in favor of my mom’s pear pie. I favored the apple, rich with cinnamon and butter, carefully pulling the top crust off to eat the filling first, and saving the flaky crust top, bottom, and magical fluted edge for last and best.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Mom's Pies
My mother making her magic pies.

The tops of the pies were beautiful, little tableaux of interlocking leaves or flowers, my mother’s artistry in pastry. Not that Mama’s pies would win any contests. They were made with Crisco, no fancy butter or lard. They were a little heavy on the crust-to-filling ratio at our family’s request. She had an instinctive touch for how much water to add, for how long she could handle the dough before it got tough. And she could roll the dough evenly, no lumps or bumps, to fit the pie plate exactly.

Her pies were magic.

When Mama died almost three years ago, the pie-making fell to me. Her rolling pin came to me as well. I have experimented with chilling the dough, using butter instead of vegetable fat, throwing the ingredients into a food processor. I have personalized my own crust recipe.

But the one constant is the rolling pin. Seasoned with oil and years of holiday pies, the rolling pin creates the perfect crust. It’s like having my mother’s hands guiding mine to smooth the dough.

I won’t make a pie without it.

Wizards have their wands. For my magic pies, I have my mother’s rolling pin. I’m packing it.

This post was originally featured on Helen Mitternight’s blog, Stilettos Not Required. Featured image via.

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