Tart. A three-letter word that has the power to bring people together. He has the power to remove construction workers from their duties at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It has the power to sit in a glass dessert case and receive more attention than a purple Fabergé egg crusted with green peridots, and it tastes better too! It stirs up memories of Martha’s Kitchen at the Hawk Museum near Wolford, it makes us want to recreate Rose’s Coffee Shop icon in Rugby, and it makes us want to travel to Balfour to enjoy Pete’s Cafe. It makes us want to drive to Ray on Grain Palace Day and have a slice of it prepared by the Dem-NPLs.
On a more personal note, it reminds me of my mom and her perfect apple pie that she could mix up without a recipe. It is also reminiscent of his expression at that time – still a smile. Pie means your grandmother, your aunt, your uncle, your picnics and your checkered tablecloths. It can also mean a double scoop of ice cream, lattice top, whipped cream, and maybe even a slice of cheese. The pie is power.
Homemade pie takes time and skill. The rush to have a pie drives many of us to pursue the many avenues of pie making without any experience, and that’s a good thing. After all, we have to start somewhere. Ann Latimer was telling me the other day that her first attempt at pie crust happened when she was a newlywed when Lowell asked for a cherry pie. She took on the challenge and without a rolling pin and only a liter jar rolled out a crust and made a cherry pie! What a great story about the power of pie. It should be noted that Ann mentioned that the crust had a variety of levels of thickness, however, it tasted good.
July brings the State Fair to Minot and that means there are lots of people rolling out the pie crust every day at the First Lutheran Church to create delicious pies for the church stand. The folks at First Lutheran take their pie crust making and pie creations seriously. The pie dough is made from scratch and all fruit is peeled daily and many loving hands make this labor of love enjoyable. One of the best pictures is to see young, mottled and wrinkled hands crimping pie dough, after all, the pie should look good.
For several years I helped roll out pie dough and it taught me some life lessons. For example, one of the secrets of those happy working mornings is to live from day to day. We focus on the day and the pies that will be needed. That’s not to say plans aren’t made for the sequel, but we don’t worry about the details unnecessarily. As Holy Rollers, we are committed to addressing tomorrow’s concerns as they arise. In the meantime, enjoy today. Great life lesson.
It’s a privilege to wake up in the morning and let the rising sun catch your eye as you walk to church and say with rolling pin and apron in hand, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and rejoice in this. We all know that life has its disappointments. But we have to take them as they come and realize over time that many of them will be deployed easily if we only have faith.
There is a team effort to make this all happen, as I said earlier. Leading this effort for the past two years is Laurie Jenson. She begins calling members and others in early summer to set up times for pie crust rolling, pie filling, baking, and also for volunteers to transfer the pie from the church at the fair stand. During her visit with Laurie, she mentioned that for many years she had enjoyed working at the fair booth. In fact, his exact words were “I loved being on the stand at the show.” When the opportunity arose to oversee the pie-making process, she switched to the pie plate. She enjoys dedicating her time and talent to this longstanding tradition at First Lutheran.
She is the first to say that on her own, it just couldn’t be done. It is, however, a community of workers who work together to carry on this tradition that many visitors look forward to. Cheerfulness is an integral part of Laurie’s attitude in the kitchen. This base encourages everyone to do their best and keep things tidy while baking peach, apple, strawberry, raisin sour cream, lemon meringue and rhubarb pies.
For many years, Cindy Wilhelm has done an excellent job of organizing pie time at the fair. When she moved, Laurie and Kathy Mackey joined forces. Kathy learned the art of dough making from Lucy Fiest who for many years made the flaky, delicious pie crust. Rest assured that the quality continues. The traditional large pottery bowl is the container for mixing lard, flour, vinegar, salt and egg that becomes the tasty base for all pies.
Over the years many people have helped and taken on leadership roles and Laurie says their actions do not go unnoticed. In fact, many times while working, some will say “Remember how she used to roll perfect circles or he was always so good at prepping peaches.”
At First Lutheran, pie crust is made with only lard. I agree it’s wonderful. This following recipe is my standard recipe which has been modified over the years to include lard plus butter or shortening if desired. It’s still my favorite.
“Crust” me – at the booth of the first Lutheran Fair, we had our “tart” on you!
Basic Pie Crust
For an 8 or 9 inch two-crust pie:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
¾ cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled but not hard or ½ cup lard, vegetable shortening and 4 tablespoons butter
½ cup ice water
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of vinegar
If the butter and lard or shortening mixture is to be used, allow both to come to room temperature before mixing. This mixture must be cooled before cutting into flour.
If you choose to use egg and vinegar, reduce the water by half.
In a medium bowl, measure the flour and salt. Using a knife, cut the fat into several small pieces and drop them into the flour. Mix and work the fat and flour with a pastry blender. Two knives will also work. If you choose to use your finger, work quickly, until the mixture resembles coarse flour, with lumps of fat ranging in size from tiny grains of rice to peas.
Add sugar, vinegar and egg, if desired. Pour each ingredient into the flour mixture and stir to combine before adding the next.
Drizzle with water, one tablespoon at a time, and stir with a fork to mix well. Gently swirl loose particles around the bowl to absorb moisture. Add water as needed to bring everything together into a moist mass that holds together.
I find it best to place the dough in the fridge to mature for a few hours. Go out ½ hour before riding to facilitate rolling.
Once the dough is rolled out, you can put it back in the fridge for another 20 minutes. The dough will cook more evenly and retain its shape. Bake at 425 degrees until color is tan, usually 20-25 minutes. It’s for a shell that needs to be filled.