Thanksgiving Day and Pies Again

Thanksgiving has rolled around again. Let my holiday baking begin. My baking is a tradition for me and my family. Raisin pie is a favorite. Never heard of raisin pie? I hadn’t either until my husband begged me to learn to make it back in the ’70s. I don’t recall where I found the recipe I use, but there is an elaborate recipe in an old cookbook inherited from my grandmother. This cookbook says that raisin pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch dish and known as ‘funeral pie’. The name came from raisin pie being served often in the olden days at the meal after a funeral; raisins were readily available and kept well.

Today as I baked pies, I listened to the Americana radio streaming from Pandora and danced around from counter to sink to stove, with the dog looking at me as if wondering if I’m nuts. It must have been the music that got me to thinking back on my history of pie baking.

I am self-taught in pie baking. I clearly remember it was the Fannie Farmer cookbook, first borrowed from the library. But, oh, how I cried and screamed, unable to get a pie crust to roll out and transferred to the pie plate. I tried from scratch, I tried frozen, I tried the refrigerator mixed ones. Then a neighbor, who spent days each fall filling her freezer with pies for all winter (what a Woman!) gave me her recipe for crust; the first recipe I ever saw with eggs. Happy day! I got pretty good with making pies and the tradition for our holidays was born and enjoyed year after year.

Until I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Gluten protein from wheat flour–bread, cookies, pasta, and all the pies I was making–was destroying my stomach. The same gluten protein that holds a pie crust together was destroying my body. If I wanted to live, I had to quit eating it. Life as I knew it changed forever, and that meant family life, too. Frankly, I was so sick that giving up glutenous foods wasn’t hard for me. It meant I wasn’t in pain anymore. But, dear heaven, our Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition of sweet-stuffs was in jeopardy!

I found the most popular gluten-free cookbooks–total of two. Twenty years ago gluten free baking–gluten free anything–was not as easy as today. The flours and mixes we have readily available today were all but non-existent, and those only purchased at health food stores. They were expensive! No internet ordering, no buying off the Walmart shelf. Also, I had to deal with chronic fatigue and body ache, and had about an inch worth of patience. But, while it was once more a lot of crying and screaming again, that very first Christmas I managed a pretty good gluten free pie. I found hope that maybe the lives of my family would not change that much. I could still be the pie-baking mother and wife that I had always been.

I realized today that I’ve come a long way, baby. I had failed to purchase the gluten free pie crust flour mix I normally use, so I mixed my own from plenty of gluten free flour in my freezer. A little of this, a little of that. First the dough came out too dry. Then I made it too wet. The first roll-out tore in half, I had to wad it up and start over. None of that bothered me. I knew I would get it done and it would be good enough. I was doing it. Not only was I able to make two pies–raisin and apple–with little trouble, but I was able to dance around the kitchen while I did it. Thank You, Lord! Pies in the Matlock house one more year!

I am blessed beyond measure and very grateful.

Darlings, if you are in search of a good gluten-free pie crust recipe, I recommend the one by Pillsbury. The DEEP DISH DOUBLE CRUST recipe will give you plenty for a 10 inch pie and a small bit left over. I don’t know about the Pillsbury gluten free flour, as I have never used it. I have used Glutino Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix and like it very well, and Walmart carries it. I have also used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix, however, not their recipe, but one with eggs. Maybe by Christmas I can get my recipe written out.

I pray you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for each of you.