Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy as Pie?

A couple of weeks ago my wonderful friend Mary Ellen asked if I’d like to help with the Thanksgiving Dinner we’re serving for the staff and Semester Students.  I love cooking, so was excited to help.  How about apple pies?  Sure!
Flash forward to this afternoon.   I used to know how to make apple pie.  With pie crust from scratch.  I really, really did.  Of course, that was when I was living with my family.  More than 25 years ago.  Oh, man, what was I thinking?!

The recipe I used was in English, and pretty much had four steps.  Make the crust, cut up the apples, make a sauce and pour over, bake. 
I can tackle an Indian recipe with spices that need roasting and grinding, chicken that needs deboning, marinating, and sautéing and rice that needs to be rinsed, soaked, sautéed with spices and simmered gently covered with saffron I’ve allowed to bloom…

But these three steps about did me in!  Working in a strange kitchen didn’t help.  Neither did my pitiful apple peeling skills.  For the record, peeling and slicing 16 Granny Smiths takes a long time.  The crust was from a box, so at least I didn’t have to fight with flour and Crisco!
The sauce had lots of butter plus both white and brown sugar.  I was to bring to a boil and then let simmer.  The mixture started boiling, and I couldn’t get the gas burner turned down quickly enough.  Suddenly it boiled over. 

It occurred to me that with a gas stove, this was a potential explosion.  Quick off the stove and to the sink, trailing yummy hot liquid as I went.

One of our sweet kitchen staff was sitting nearby.  I’m sure she thought I was trying to burn the place down!  Millie, our awesome head cook, came in, and watched me try and make the lattice topping. 
Even though she doesn’t know English, she kept glancing at the recipe, concern very evident on her face.  Here we go again, another American who doesn’t know what she’s doing!
The pies are now in the oven baking for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Feast. They are about halfway done.  I just peaked, and it wasn’t a heartening sight.  Sigh.  As I’ve blogged before, I don’t seem to be able to do the simplest things I used to be able to do.  This pie is just another in a long line of missteps. 

The good news is, even if the pies completely flop, we’ll have lots of other food.  We are blessed to have turkey and gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry jell-o salad and more.   
We’ll be with other Christ-followers, enjoying a taste of home, rejoicing in the abundance of ways God has been meeting us here in the Dominican Republic.  Sure, we may not be tasting apple pie, but we’ll have lots of other yummy things.

So, I’m feeling a little bit embarrassed and sorry for myself right now.  But, even in this, I can rejoice.  I can rejoice that as I’ve forgotten some skills, I’m learning new ones. 
I can rejoice that I am in a place where I can praise God without fear.  I can openly share Him with the women of El Callejon.  Compared to that (and so many other blessings!) this little hit to my ego is small potatoes (or should I say small sweet potatoes?!).
Pies (not feet!) de Manzanas
Update:  Here they are!  I promise to report back tomorrow!!


  1. I wish MY pies looked that good EVER ! All our Thanksgiving pies either burned or overflowed this year..... We can't wait to eat them and be thankful!!!

  2. I just put them away in the fridge and they look (and taste =) wonderful! My bet is that there will not be a single crumb left tomorrow! I am thankful for you and your willingness to press on in spite of all the obstacles that adjusting to a new place and new culture entails!