Try, try again
It's Thursday and the kids are away and I have that wonderful wink of time to myself.
And in this respite I decided to attempt a homemade pecan pie.
Because my husband thinks he is helping me, teaching and picking up sinus headache medicine to help his dear wife,
But I am secretly helping him, loving him well and making the house swell with the smell he loves most.
This is monumental for several reasons.
One being that I did not grow up in a "Baker's house."
My Mom makes the best spaghetti sauce with pork chops, homemade meatballs, AND sausage. (Mom, I'd love some if you are reading this......) She makes ah-mazing City Chicken and her Cabbage Rolls are divine.
What she didn't make growing up was pies and cheesecakes and the like.
She did make rice pudding that we jokingly remember as kids getting one heaping spoonful of while Mom cradled the brown baking dish on the couch and enjoyed the custardy rest.
Now that I am a mom of many I understand this in the fullest degree and now say to these old memories, "Good for you Mom!"
So pies have been quite of a learning curve for me.
We were just a few years married when I decided to ask our pastor, my Father in law, if we could add some "fun" competitions to the church's Old Fashioned Sunday festivities.
He was thrilled to have some young blood changing things up a bit. What I wasn't ready for was the look on the faces of the ladies of the church when I asked them to bake a homemade pie for a good Old Fashioned Pie Contest.
In desperation I added a little clause to my plea.
I told them that I had NEVER made a pie from scratch and that if they would make one, so would I.
I felt akin to Laura Ingalls Wilder braving a new frontier.
They no doubt, felt assured they could beat this wet around the collar Assistant Pastor's wife, so they hopped on the covered wagon alongside me.
I was inspired and ready to forge into unknown territory that contained things like pastry cutters.
That was until the night before the contest when I realized that I was as inept as they come in the pie department.
Because I'm weird, I decided a normal Apple, Cherry or even Pumpkin pie wouldn't do.
If I was going to go out in a blaze of glory it had to be a pie so original that no one had ever heard of it.
And so I chose to make a Jefferson Davis Pie.
Because Laura Ingalls would've been proud of me.
Why I chose a pie named for a Southern Statesman I cannot tell you.
Seeing as I'm as NORTHERN as it gets, Ya'll.
What I CAN tell you is that I was delighted in a challenge, and a full plate of custardy goodness seemed ideal.
What I DO remember about this whole shebang, is standing at our kitchen table, the only place to roll out dough and crying a million tears.
Flour was seeping through the cracks in the table and blanketing the RED carpet below. Yes, we ate in the living room because the kitchen was too small.
It was a disaster of epic proportions.
I hadn't shed that many tears when our two oldest were born, like I did over that silly crust!
Amidst two little ones I attempted over and over again to roll out the perfect flakey crust.
Each time it split and broke off the rolling pin my heart split telling me that I would never be a "Suzy Homemaker."
I had nighmare-ish visions of well-meaning ladies ringing in my ear telling me that "You absolutely, in no way shape or form can roll out your pie dough more than ONCE. After that it's dead to you. Don't even THINK of trying to save it. It's a lost cause. You begin again!"
This scene was so memorable that my oldest daughter, five at the time, told a Pastor's wife at a HUGE ladies meeting years after this event that she wasn't even allowed to talk or move when mom rolled out a pie crust!
Be it shortening, butter or even oil, pie crusts have always had the upper hand.
And so I mixed and patched and finally, covered in flour and egg/sugar stickiness, I called it a day.
Only having the internal fortitude to make ONE, I didn't even know if it tasted good!
That Sunday I slid that pie on the church kitchen counter and thought, "Good riddance!" and lined-up our Special speaker and his wife to be our judges after morning service.
I set them up with forks, carefully cut tiny slivers of each pie and then snatched-up my baby and headed to the nursing room.
After about a half an hour, I heard some chatter just outside the nursing room door.
It was the judges!
This was some weird scene that took place. Me, the pie contest head, nursing her little girl while getting a secret earful into what they thought about each and every pie- including mine!
I felt like some Secret Pie Private Eye or something.
I wasn't trying to snoop, they just decided to park right outside my door!
And in a moment of heart-racing tension, I heard them announce the winner.
It was me.
Me and my Jefferson Davis Pie.
The only homemade pie I had EVER made in my entire life.
And I sat in that rocking chair with my little girl and felt this wonderful joy of knowing that I could do hard things.
I smiled when they handed me the prize pie spatula- the one I myself made sure would be the shiniest and prettiest for whomever the winner would be, days before, and even wrapped it in a lovely bow.
I won our church's first ever pie contest and I have never forgotten how that made this weary wife and mama feel.
Fast forward a few years to me deciding to make my husband's favorite pie, pecan, for the pie contest.
Still struggling with the crust and having never made a pecan pie before, I had no clue why it the middle was VERY wobbly as I walked it to our walk-in closet to cool.
I know, but the closet was just about the only place in our 600 square foot house where several tiny humans couldn't get their grubby paws into it.
It was getting time to head to church and I went into the closet to check on the pie, only to nudge it off the top shelf and watch it cover me, the carpet, some blinds and half of our hanging clothes in gooeyness.
It never set.
I can STILL see me standing there waiting for all of my little ones to find me and wanting to just forget this crazy pie making once and for all.
So pecan pies and me haven't had a great history together. They never seem to set and I never seem to want to try again.
Fast forward a few more years when I learned to make a no-roll "Pat-in-the-pan-crust," That these fingers are presently known for. It's divine and easy and I have now taught my daughters and my own Mom how to perfect it. How grateful I am to a wise farm-wife who gave me the know-how to make it!
(I dare you to ask Isaac what happened one afternoon when he tried to secretly throw away a small piece of crust in front of my Mom.
Go ahead. I double-dog dare you.)
I have given my kids new memories to replace the old "crying while rolling out the crust," ones but am still a bit gun shy when it comes to pecans.
But this morning I try again.
I try again for the love of a good man.
I try again when no prizes are being handed out and no one but him and our crew will see my efforts.
I try again because his arm around my waist is enough reason to try and make any single solitary thing his heart desires from scratch.
I try again for the love of him.
It may end up being ice cream topping, like a wise Mentor showed me to do when things just stay runny but are still delicious and nothing to get your tears going for.
Love just does that.
Love serves it on ice cream and laughs it off.
Sometimes love just needs to come out of its comfort zone and attempt great things but keep a gallon of ice cream in the freezer just in case.
I try again for the looks when he comes through the door that say, "I'm glad to come home to you."
I try again for the Algebra explaining when I can only make lunch.
I try again for the attempting to sing, "I love you just the way you are," when you know he never remembers all the words.
For the "This meal is delicious" when it's burnt Toast and Cheese and Tomato Soup.
I try my best because He tries his best to love me well too.
Because my daughter comes home horrified that Dad bought "personal products," at the store for Mom with a smile for the cashier.
Because He never minds my socks, several pairs of them, crumpled up at the bottom of the bed.
Because he knows I hate making appointments or talking to anyone about money and does them both for me every single time.
Because he always buys me flowers that bloom the longest.
I try to spoil him because he officially asks me out for a date every single week.
And he secretly loves it when I pretend like I didn't hear him or get his text so he has to ask me three more times.
I try for how he calls me "Mrs. Royalty" when we are making a decision together be it big or small.
I attempt something tricky and sticky for the love of this man.
I try again today for the smile when he walks through the door and for the smile I have knowing that there's ice cream in the freezer.