Friday, November 27, 2009

The Review Trailer

In planning for our family’s annual week of Thanksgiving, I completely forgot about Wednesday.

Wednesday is, quite traditionally, the day that nothing goes as planned. It’s the day after the initial euphoria of the vacation mentality has passed, the day before all the elements of the year’s most anticipated meal fall into place, the day devoted to preparations we never fail to underestimate. Simply put, Thanksgiving Wednesday is rough, a fact everyone seems to forget until the clock tells us its late, our bodies say we’re tired, and our recipes indicate that key ingredients are forgotten, missing, or simply not doing their job. Worst of all, Wednesday is the day my sister and I confront our annual nemesis: the pie crust.

I would like to tell you that the “cooking show” my sister and I planned, documenting two-recipe pie crust showdown yielded the elusive supple crust we have always sought; that in the pursuit of same we became an overnight internet sensation as our special blend of humor, commentary, and cooking prowess played out in our planned series of near-real time posts right here in this forum.

I’d like to tell you that family criticism had nothing to do with the sudden cancellation of our cooking show debut, that we were able to sustain the spirit of frivolity that fueled our initial efforts at conquering our traditionally lackluster crust.

And I’d definitely like to tell you that the apple peeler/corer I was asked to try and review worked so flawlessly and saved so much time that all the other setbacks dissolved into irrelevance.

But the truth is that Real Life is a lot messier and more complicated than we want to believe. Real Life is uncertain, prone to mishap, and subject to ill-timed setbacks. In short, Real Life is a lot like Thanksgiving Wednesday. And you what? It’s a whole lot more interesting as a result.

One of the most important things I’ve ever learned about journalism is that the real story is in what Actually Happened. Any story approached from a pre-conceived angle by a reporter fishing for a certain kind of quote or contrived ending will result in a stilted read reflecting a Life Substitute with a chemically engineered Aftertaste. Not at all what we’re about here at Running With Letters.

What Actually Happened was that my sister and I struggled through the making of three pies in a mostly somber state after the sudden scratching of our live-blog cooking show. Our crusts were unmanageable, somewhat stiff, and left behind no scraps for us to slather in rolled layers of butter, sugar and cinnamon. Saddened by the sour reception to our show, we slogged through the assembly of said pies, sure we would be buoyed by the stellar performance of the corer/peeler/slicer.

The bottom line is that the peeler was fun to use and did save us some time. We tested it on no less than six varieties of apples (our pies are nothing if not a celebration of savory flavors and diverse textures) and found that it performed best with apples that leaned more toward the faultless than the flawed. Hard, round, perfectly proportioned apples zipped through the process, whereas the soft, the irregular, and the misproportioned tended to tangle and tear. We were anxious to see how it performed on potatoes, as the package made mention of spud use as a popular secondary application. We gave it a trial run on the potatoes my husband needed for his locally renowned rolls, but found that my niece needed to finish the job with a manual peeler—a fact that steered us away from emergency use of the gadget in a near-disaster on Thanksgiving when, as the turkey emerged from the oven, we realized that we hadn’t even started the mashed potatoes.

A merciful feature of Real Life is that the nitty gritty realities of preparation often have a soft and gracious flip side, in which we’ve been reveling ever since we flipped the calendar to Thursday. Today, we’re eschewing the realities of Black Friday and we’re carving pumpkins instead. Despite my absence from the shopping scene, I do have a deal available for one of my followers: There’s a second corer/peeler that’s waiting to have one of your names pasted on it and shipped to your house in time for Christmas baking. If you’d like to win, just let me know in your comment and I’ll post the winner on Sunday.

I’m off to jump back in to the potpourri of sweet and sour that blends to make that oh-so-savory flavor I call life.


Julie Schuler said...

Oh, we had such a Wednesday! My husband made separate trips to the store for: rolls, butter, evaporated milk, aluminum foil, and early Thursday for maple syrup. You would think we never had Thanksgiving before! I have been making my pie crusts with good old fashioned lard and I think they are pretty good. I still don't know how any pies ever got made before waxed paper.

5thsister said...


I was in the store Thanksgiving morning for whipped cream, half and half, and milk. Seems I left "dairy" off the Thanksgiving grocery shopping list.

I've never made a pie crust. I would like to learn someday. It's a shame the video went bust.

Kathleen said...

Of course I'd love to win--and give it a try despite its less-than-stellar performance at your place! Sorry to miss out on the live performance, but I bet you had fun anyway, and I love how you find real life lessons in all you do! :-)

Raoulysgirl said...

I'm sorry that your debut was cancelled! I am still struggling with pie crust perfection myself!!!

My sister and I did our annual Black Friday shopping today. I got a few great deals...and two VERY sore feet.

The things we do for our children!

I would still love to win the corer/peeler...even though it fell a little short! I'm a sucker for kitchen gadgets!!

Gropius said...

"Real Life is a lot like Thanksgiving Wednesday." That's one of the top quotable quotes I've found on a blog! It's a perfect analogy for what you've planned vs. how things turn out. Sounds like you still had a lovely time together.

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Pie crusts are deceptively difficult, aren't they? I hope the Thanksgiving holiday was wonderful!


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