“Rob and I have decided,” said Youngest Daughter to me one afternoon shortly after Rob had gotten up the courage to ask her Daddy if he could marry her, “that we don’t want wedding cake. We want pies. And we would like it if you would make them.”
It was early summer. October 19th seemed a long way off. Besides, I like to make pies. And I love this daughter and the man she had chosen to love, as well. “Of course, Rachel,” I said without hesitation. “I will be glad to make the pies for your wedding. Do you know how many people you are going to have and how many pies you will want?”
“Well, we aren’t having a big wedding,” she answered vaguely. “Let me get back to you on that.”
This girlie of ours planned everything down to the last comma and exclamation point. It wasn’t long until she told me that she was pretty sure that the maximum capacity for the reception was 110 to 115. That was good to know. “How many pieces do you want each pie cut into?” I asked her, “six or eight?”
“Oh, eight, of course,” she asserted stoutly. “People won’t want more than a smaller piece after eating the dinner.”
“Well, then,” I said to her, “We should probably have about 15 pies. What kind do you want?”
“Um, I don’t really know yet. Let Rob and I discuss it and get back to you.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “I will get the pie crusts into the freezer and then fill them just in time for the wedding.”
Sure enough, on August 5th, her list came through.
This looked very doable to me. I was familiar with each one of these pies. The only “hard” pie was the Lemon Meringue which just happens to be Youngest Daughter’s favorite. I did wonder at the fact that there were eight different pies, but decided that if this was what was wanted, this was what was going to be done. And I was going to make a Lemon Meringue Pie that would SING it would be so beautiful and taste so nice.
There came the day when Middle Sister and Youngest Sister came to help me, and we moved a lot of work that day. Middle Sister (Sarah Slaubaugh) made cheddar cheese soup and washed dishes and helped weigh out pie crusts and assisted with making fruit slush for the rehearsal dinner.
Youngest Sister, (Alma Heatwole) is turning into a champion pie crust maker, and she mixed the pie dough, then I weighed it out into equal portions.
Then she rolled them out and I got them into their pie pans and crimped the edges and got them into the freezer.
It was quite an operation, but when all the things were done, it was a huge weight off the shoulders of this mother of the bride. Middle Sister came back the next day and washed all 72 cylindrical vases for the tables at the reception as well as the 22 votive candle holders. She also mended some of the boxes that they had come in so that they wouldn’t fall out and break on the way to DC. It was an incredible help, and the days passed by so quickly that I was almost breathless.
If you read down through that pie list, you noticed that one of those pies was a French Silk Chocolate Pie. This is a frozen pie. It was also the only pie that I could make ahead of time and transport to DC without fear of disaster. So I got busy on Wednesday and baked the pie shells and filled them.
(And yes, there were three of these pies because we had promised to leave one for our gracious hosts, Keith and Leah, who were out of town for the week, and we wanted them to have one that would still be good when they got back!) I stashed those three pies away and felt so good about them.
Thursday. It was such a fun, interesting and profitable day. I took all my recipes and copied off two copies of each. I measured and calculated and put all the dry ingredients for each pie together in a heavy plastic bag and labeled them. I measured as many of the wet ingredients as I could and put them into separate, tightly closed jars. I put all the ingredients together into a larger ziplock bag along with one copy of the recipe. I checked all the ingredients off as I finished each recipe so that I would have no guessing the next day, and also so that I would not be dragging a bunch of baking supplies along to DC that I would only use a little bit and then have to drag them all back home. I put all the bags into one of my sturdy large gray totes along with the list and the sheath of recipes, and I was pretty pleased with myself when it was all done.
Then I figured out how much butter I would need, how many dozen eggs, how much whipping cream, and tucked in the bottle of vanilla, and I felt like I was set.
Friday morning. We couldn’t get into the church until noon, and we pulled up there around two or three minutes after 12:00. Les Graber, maintenance man and all around helpful guy, let us in and I got started right away. I baked the four pie shells that I needed and set them aside. The rest of the pies needed to be filled and then baked. So I got the Apple Crumb in, then the Pecan, then the Vanilla Crumb, then the pumpkin and finally, the rhubarb.
Next I started the Lemon Meringue. I expected this pie to be fairly “easy-peasy” because I had grated the lemon peel at home, juiced the lemon juice out and measured everything. The filling went together super well. and it looked and tasted really good. I beat the eight egg whites into huge and beautiful mounds, added the sugar and the cream of tarter, and started to spoon it over the hot pie filling. All of the sudden, my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. Oh, no! I had forgotten the vanilla. I looked at the pies with several large dollops of meringue on them and pondered what I should do. I decided first to just add vanilla to what I had left and beat it up good and maybe just cover it all up. Then I thought that maybe I could at least scrape off the top of those mountainous peaks and put it in with the remaining meringue and “just beat it up good!” I should have known better. I really should have. But I scooped as much of that meringue back into the big KitchenAid mixing bowl and started to whip. My meringue sank lower and lower until it looked like a thin pudding of some sort. Some of the lemon filling must have gotten in and done more damage than I had expected it to. Oh, dear.
My next idea was to just start all over with it. I checked my eggs. Nope! Not enough. I still needed to make the Peanut Butter Pie and there weren’t enough eggs for me to just take eight. Besides, what would I do with eight leftover egg yolks???
Wait a minute! Egg yolks! I needed six for my peanut butter pie and I didn’t need the whites because I top my Peanut Butter Pie with whipped cream, not meringue. And besides, four egg yolks a pie when I use jumbo eggs, is way too much. Three each would be plenty. Before anyone noticed or told me not to, I poured that offending, pity-sakes of a bowl of meringue down the sink and turned on the water to wash away the evidence. I procured my precious egg yolks and made my Peanut butter pie while the egg whites came to room temperature.
Back in my element, I whipped those egg whites up and added the Cream of Tarter, the sugar and the vanilla, and got them onto the pie. Middle Daughter, Deborah, attended to the final smoothing of the tops and we popped them into the oven and set a timer. I pulled them out a little later and felt like they could maybe use a little bit more time, so I put them back in and set the timer for another five minutes.
Well. When that timer went off, I slipped my flat cookie sheet under the first pie and slid it out. It was a tad bit darker now than I wanted, so I hurriedly went to get the second one out. I was using the top oven which was a one rack oven. I had already gotten burned on my cookie sheet earlier, so I was trying to just slip it in as fast as I could and not linger. In went the flat cookie sheet and the heat rose out of the open oven door. I needed to hurry! I quickly pulled my cookie sheet out.
Oh, no, Oh, no!!! I looked down at my cookie sheet and all that was on that cookie sheet was the meringue! I kid you not. Somehow that sharp, flat cookie sheet had gotten between the pie and the meringue and slid right on through to the other side. When I pulled it out, there was the meringue, perfectly round and unscathed by the trauma. I looked at it in disbelief. I pulled my now naked Lemon Pie out of the oven and still just could not believe it. Daniel and Christina came to see what was going on when they heard my cry of dismay, and they started to laugh.
This was no laughing matter. “What am I going to do?” I wailed. “What in the world am I going to do???”
“We are going to put it back on,” said one of my laughing sidekicks.
“How in the world are we going to do that?” I asked almost in tears, “I don’t think it’s possible!” But then I kinda caught the vision and thought about possibilities. We hauled a large pancake turner out of the church’s drawer and carefully slid that meringue right back onto the pie. It didn’t break, it didn’t dent, it just went back to where it was before it was so rudely removed from its rightful place. The cook’s critical eye was not very happy. It wasn’t as high as it should have been, and it (for sure!) was not sealed to the outer crust, but it was on, and it didn’t look too bad for what it had been through. I had to be content. I stashed it in the fridge for the night and decided not to look at it again.
Saturday was busy from morn till night, and the wedding happened and our youngest chick got married. The wedding was beautiful, and the food at the reception was incredible. Kelly and her husband, Doug, from Lemons and Grace Catering did an absolutely fabulous job with the food, and–
Yes, there was no cake.
But there were pies. And some of them got totally gone, and some of them did not. The Lemon Meringue, bless its heart, was not as popular as some of the others. It wasn’t as pretty as some of its neighbors, but it had been through a lot. No one said a negative word. The ones who knew the story held their peace, except for the guilty one. She never could keep a secret, and so now the whole world knows.
It could have been so much worse. This is for sure. And so, once again, for all the things that might have been — and weren’t, and all the things that came together and made this weekend a happy time —
My heart gives humble, grateful praise.
It’s fuzzy, but it’s My Girlie and me, and I love her.