You Know You’re a Crunchy Mama When…

…you’re grooving to the celtic music hour on the radio while making a homemade gluten-free apple pie (out of local apples, of course).

(Actually, I’m not sure if this is “crunchy” or not. But I thought is was oddly indicative of some specific type of mama, so I figured I’d post it. I had to take a breather anyway; Celtic Sojourn cut out in the middle of a real fiddle jam, and I was feeling kind of irate.)

For more in this series, select the “You Know You’re a Crunchy Mama…” category from the drop-down to the right.

Wait, Do I Like Cooking?

NaNoWriMo Day 24 Word Count: 43,589

Crustless GF/CF Pumpkin Pie. If it turns out yummy, I'll post/link to the recipe. Is this something someone who doesn't like cooking would do?

I’ve got a homemade Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie and homemade Pumpkin Pepper Hummus hanging out in the fridge with the store-bought veggie tray and whipped topping (both dairy and non). I’ve got a from-scratch gluten-free, dairy-free apple pie baking away in the oven. I’ve got cranberries waiting to be masticated in the mixer and a recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free (sensing a pattern here?) dinner rolls sitting on the table, hoping to be put to use in the morning. I’ve got an open canister of cashews to my right and a “Slightly Sweet” Oregon Chai with rice milk steaming to my left.

And I’ve got Billy Boy stuck in my head. I always get Billy Boy stuck in my head when I bake pie. You know, “Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she make a cherry pie, charming Billy?” Despite the fact that I’m not making a cherry pie. As I mentioned before, I’m making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie, neither of which I made as quick as a cat can wink its eye. In fact, I’ve been at it for hours, and not always happily.

Which leads me to ask myself: do I like cooking?

I think I do. I mean, when someone asks me if I like cooking, I say, why, yes! I do! I post pictures of foods I’ve made and recipes I like on this very blog. I participate in conversations about food preparation and procurement of exotic ingredients, like maple sugar and dairy-free, trans-fat-free butter. But when I actually go to cook something, I do an awful lot of swearing and taking the Lord’s name in vain.

And then after I’ve made the thing that I’ve been very surly-ly making, I feel somewhat let down. “Oh,” I think. “Is this all?” And then we eat it and no matter how tasty it was, it’s gone now. No trace of all of my work but a drainer full of clean dishes stacked precariously and towering three feet above the countertop because I can’t stand drying dishes. We live in a desert. It makes no sense to dry dishes.

But I digress. The point is, do I really like cooking?

Even with all of this, I still think I do. I think the only reason I get all bent out of shape about it is that I want it to turn out perfectly every time, even if it’s something I’ve never made before. (Speaking of perfectionism, I just took a little break from writing to make a protective foil ring to keep the crimped edge of my pie from over-browning. I could sense from the way the pie smelled that it was browning at a rapid rate, and it still has at least 30 minutes left to cook.) And I want the eating of the food item to be some kind of transcendent experience, something that will be a highlight of our day and make us leave the table wanting to be better people and to help humankind. That’s a lot to ask of a pie.

Instead, it’s usually more like that scene in The Simpsons episode in which Lisa is disappointed because her career aptitude test said she should be a homemaker (“It’s like a mommy,” the school counselor explains). She’s spending the day with Marge, watching what might be in store for her as a future homemaker. Marge has made breakfast and shaped the bacon, eggs, and toast into little faces on Bart and Homer’s plates.

“What’s the point?” Lisa asks. “They won’t even notice.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” Marge assures her. Then, of course, Homer and Bart come to the table, scarf down their breakfast, oblivious to everything. I’ve given a fairly accurate and thorough recap, but in case you’d like to see it for yourself:

So, in conclusion, the earlier seasons of The Simpsons really stand the test of time, and I clearly didn’t waste years of my life memorizing the episodes. They come in handy on a daily basis.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumnal Equinox and Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Apple Pie for the Autumnal Equinox

My daughter asked to make apple pie for the first day of autumn. She apparently got the idea from the book Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong. As the title suggests, they bake an apple pie for Independence Day, but my daughter expanded upon the idea and made what I thought was a suggestion very appropriate to the season.

I don’t bake much pie. I make a squash pie a couple of times a year, but gluten-free pie crust is a real pain to work with, so I avoid it except on special occasions, like when I really want pie. And I don’t think I’ve ever made a double-crust pie as an adult. I used to help my┬ámom bake apple and cherry pies, so I wasn’t flying totally blind, but I knew that I was running a risk by making a pie from scratch with my 5-year-old while my 13-month-old toddled about trying to climb up the stool and open the hot stove.

To lessen the chance of emotional explosion during pie prep, I peeled, cored, and chopped the apples last night. I was going to make the dough for the crust, but my husband suggested our daughter might be disappointed that she didn’t get to measure and pour the ingredients, so I waited. And went to bed early.

As luck would have it, I got about an hour of solitude before either child woke up for the morning, during which I sipped my tea and watched the clouds race across the sky (and then did dishes and checked e-mail). When my daughter awoke, we started on the pie immediately. When the baby woke up about 20 minutes later, I strapped him to my back, and we went back to work.

As predicted, the dough was temperamental and there was more filling than I’d counted on, but I managed to fit everything in and kind of tuck the crust around the edges. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.

We’re in that period full of possibility when we don’t know yet whether the pie will taste as good as we anticipate (or even if I cooked it long enough). For now, we’re just enjoying looking at the results of our work and enjoying the smell of apples and cinnamon. I might even make some vanilla ice cream to go with the pie tonight.

And I can say honestly that baking with my daughter was a thoroughly enjoyable experience this morning. Happy Autumn!