Cooking & Eating, Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: Pie and Whiskey

I’ve been reading Pie and Whiskey, a collection of short stories, essays, poems, and recipes. (The pie crust recipe is spot on, by the way; Kate Lebo knows her stuff.) The creative work in the book comes from a wide variety of authors and covers a wide variety of subjects, but one thing strings them all together (well, two things):

Pie and whiskey.

So, having read a couple dozen short pieces in the past few days, filled with pie-makers and whiskey-drinkers, I’ve got pie and whiskey on the brain. So that’s this week’s prompt. Pie and whiskey. Wherever it takes you.

Here’s mine.

I rolled the dough cockeyed, more oval than square. I’d been watching Paula Deen in her sweet yellow kitchen, back when the world still loved her. Rachel Ray, Emeril, even Sandra Lee–the Food Network school of cooking. I wanted to do it not right but perfectly–a camera-ready crust–so I peeled the dough from the counter to re-roll it.

My aunt snorted and I turned. I’d thought I was alone. “You never re-roll pie dough,” she said, her face collapsing in something like a sneer–for some reason, she wasn’t wearing her dentures. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you that?”

No, they didn’t. Not one. My grandma, my aunts–none ever invited me into the kitchen. My face felt suddenly hot and I wanted to hit her. I wanted to knock her teeth in, but then, she didn’t have any. I felt twenty years of anger, all the wrongs this woman and her children had inflicted, all the time they’d stolen from me pressing hot into the back of my neck.

But I knew not to re-roll pie dough, theoretically. I knew about gluten development and the importance of chilling and resting. I also knew that I’d done it once before and it hadn’t made much of a difference.

I knew that nothing on our Thanksgiving table would be especially delicious, nothing ever was, not even the bread that my Grandma used to make with her mythological special recipe that had followed her to the grave.

A slightly toughened pie crust wouldn’t matter at all.

I’d tested and re-tested that dough recipe. The filling came from Ina Garten, though I used orange juice rather than bourbon, hoping to cater to my family’s tastes.

Still, we weren’t a pecan pie family. The pumpkin would go first, and then the store-bought apple. I would eat pecan pie for breakfast until my husband and I flew home, to my own kitchen, where I made the rules. Where I could cook with bourbon and wine, make savory pie crusts with aged cheddar cheese, roll the dough as I wanted and never answer to anyone.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s