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Everyone, I am so very happy to be back at KTK on a regular basis, and by regular I mean EVERY WEDNESDAY through the elections.

Remembrance asked me to fill in for nomandates while she focuses on getting Wendy Davis into the executive mansion. This week and another week in August I will be writing TWO diaries, including this coming Friday. Stay tuned for more...

My very first diary here was a cooking diary, so I thought I would revert to form but this time, instead of bringing you a winning dish I figured we would get the ball rolling with failure. That's right, that pie you see up top? That's NOT how it was supposed to turn out. Shocking, I know.

Jump the bumping creme horns for the skinny. And by skinny I mean moderately fattening...

People, that was supposed to be a really nice pie like its sister pie that turned out so fine. I made that one for my wife to bring to a meeting at her church, but something went dramatically awry this time. In fact, several things went awry not the least of which was the operator of said pie (me). Let me please walk you through what I did wrong so you don't have to make the same mistakes.

First things first, though, the crust. No mistakes here. Base ratios:

1 c flour (I use pastry flour)
1/4 butter (lard or crisco for other pies as appropriate)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cut shortening into flour/salt/powder mixture, add water to proper consistency.

Notice the crust doesn't go to the edge?

That's a basic pie crust. I know some of you bake and I suspect there are folks here who make much better pies than I do, so feel free to add your two cents if you think there is a better way to go with the crust. This is great-grandmother's recipe and so it's the one I've been using and it has worked well for me. I think my pies are good but I haven't been making them for all that long considering how long I've been cooking in general.

In fact, I used to be afraid of making pies because I had people in my life who are tremendous bakers and since I have (or had) a reputation as a solid chef I didn't want to mess that up with something half-baked, so to speak. Nevertheless, I've had some pretty big successes over the last four years or so, the sister pie to this one being one of them. Can you believe I didn't take a picture of that one? It came out of the oven and went straight out the door. But it had a tree pattern like this one, only prettier. I took my time with it and wasn't careless.

Anyway, you will notice in the picture that the bottom crust doesn't meet the edge of the pie dish? Yeah, that's operator error and the first mistake. I didn't make enough dough to roll out a full crust and had already rolled and cut the weaving for the top. That would have been ok if I hadn't decided to "fake" the edge. That much heavy splicing I have now learned is not a smart fix. Wanna see all the extra crust I added to "fix" that?

Really excessive edge there. Bad pie crust execution, bastrop. The weaving is kinda nice, though. Good job.

At a glance it might look good but it was a dumb move. So what was inside of this pie anyway? Well, take a look...

Granny Smith and Macintosh is what's inside.

That's a mix of Granny Smith and Macintosh. Typically I don't bother being all fancy with the layout, it's not a tarte aux pommes, which I do really well. I was feeling frisky that morning so I went for it and that was more for me than anything else. In fact, this whole pie was sort of a practice but if you look closely you will notice I didn't have enough apples to actually fill the dish. That not a huge problem but it certainly contributed to making this crust heavy, which I don't like at all.

When I make an apple pie I take all the peels and cores and reduce them in a light syrup with spices and use it inside and out. Inside, this adds some body to the filling (I don't use a lot, just a bit) and outside the glaze will give a lovely effect (as long as you don't burn it). I have done this probably twenty times in the last two years and never, ever had a burn. Can anyone guess why? That's right: I didn't strain it. I got lazy and didn't feel like dealing with the cheesecloth to strain out the solids and that is the major crime here. Please do as I say and not as I do and don't do that. EOM.

Pie before glaze:

Got a little sloppy with the design but it could have been fine.

Pie after glaze:

Always strain your glaze...(that should have an echo).

You can scroll to the top of the diary to see the result again if you really need to. It's a travesty of pie justice and this diary is the punishment. Not to mention the deflated sense of excitement I witnessed as my family came into the house smelling pie and excited for a slice and then saw this mess.

It's really ok, though, because I know that the best learning involves big mistakes. I needed to fail at pie in order to learn some serious lessons about crust, glaze and apparently my own hubris. My wife says I needed to be taken down a notch after over-overcoming my pie phobia.

Notch taken.

There is one more component to this fiasco and that is my oven. It's always been temperamental and uneven but that has gotten worse, even since the sister pie came out perfect. Time for a new oven is the bottom line. I wish I could take credit for it but that's the honest truth and I'm sticking to it.

So, how are your pie skills? Have you ever scorched one? Turned out runny? Dropped it on the floor right out of the oven? Tell us your pie failures and join in the fun!

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.
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