Harry Potter and buttermilk pie crust

Ever notice how what you’re reading influences what you eat and cook, or what you WANT to eat and cook?

I finally started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my two older kids this weekend, and oh my goodness. SO. MUCH. FUN. Only a couple chapters into the first book and they are already picking up on the challenges of making good choices, courage, the reality that adults don’t always get it right, that life isn’t fair, and that doing the right thing is always the right thing.

And the food . . . Rowling got it. I love how she details food.
Bags of stale crips.
A can of tomatoes on toast for breakfast.
Fried bacon.
A package of squishy sausages in Hagrid’s pocket.
Candy and sweets with so many odd names and flavors I can’t even remember them all at the moment. Except those jelly beans of all different flavors—because Jelly Belly, obviously, have jumped on that train.
I need to write about food in my own stories some more . . .

Today is about pie, though. Rowling’s description of the pies and tarts at the Hogwart’s feast got me itching to try a new pie crust recipe I’ve been thinking about. Plus I made butter again this weekend, so there is both icy cold buttermilk and fresh butter in my fridge waiting for experimentation.

Hope you had a great weekend, friends.
Here’s to good books and good food.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.

Note: these measurements make a single crust, so you’ll need to double the recipe for a top and bottom crust.

I prefer using wax paper or parchment paper to roll out pasty dough because it means I don’t have to try and scrape it from my counter top or risk over-flouring it. Also, refrigerate whatever dough you aren’t currently working with.

Lay the bottom crust in the plate and add the filling of your choice (I’m going with apple, cheddar, and sweet-potato today).

Roll out the top crust as you did with the bottom, fit over top the pie, trim any excess around the edges and crimp.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown across the top and bubbling. About 40 minutes or so. Allow to cool before cutting so the juices can re-incorporate.

For a full tutorial on how I use wax paper and crimping, check out my earlier pie crust recipe tutorial. —Different recipe, same method. 🙂

toward courage

“I wish I could go back,” he said. “And undo all of my mistakes.”

We were cuddling before bed. Story time was over, he was getting sleepy, and then he throws down this one and I’m suddenly caught between nostalgia for my soon-to-be-ten-year-old and the worst case of parenting guilt I’ve felt for a while.

What on earth?! Dude is nine years old. What mistakes has he made that there is anything to regret? And what have I done as his mother to ensure this kind of pressure for perfection? I gulped.

“Mistakes? What do you mean Bud? What mistakes do you wish you could go back and undo?”
“That time I hit you.” He said. “And that time I didn’t catch my sister when she fell down the stairs. Those kinds of things.”

We were silent for a little while, each of us contemplating. I was desperately trying not to get swallowed up by my own conviction that once again I was failing this kid. And I knew he was mentally listing all the other things he wanted to undo.
I took a deep breath.

“Know what?”
“I have a list of things I wish I could go back and undo too.”
“Oh yah. REALLY. None of us are perfect. Only God is perfect.”
My sweet red-head nodded.
“It must be nice not to make mistakes.”
“Someday we will be done making them. But until then, we get to learn from them.”
“Yes,” I said. “Every mistake we make is an opportunity to learn and do something different next time. And you, Kiddo, are one of the best learners I’ve ever met.”
“Really. And I’m so proud of you.”

I kissed him goodnight and he was sleeping in seconds, but I couldn’t stop revisiting his words and wondering—wondering—wondering what I was doing wrong that this thought would be anchored in the heart of my nine year old.

I wish I could go back and undo all my mistakes.

I told a girlfriend about it over drinks one night and tearfully confessed to feeling terribly inadequate to parent this kid—I felt like I was failing him. That perhaps somehow I had created an expectation for perfection. Something I had vowed never to do to to my kids.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.
“You’re taking too much credit,” she said. “And I mean that in the kindest way possible. You don’t get to be responsible for all his winnings or successes any more than you get to be responsible for all of his failings or shortcomings. We could be the best moms in the whole world and never make a mistake with our kids only to have them make their own horrible choices and ruin their lives. Also, we could be the worst moms ever and have our kids turn out absolutely amazing!”

I thought about that and then nodded, tearfully. She was right.
“I see you doing the best you can,” she continued. “And that is all any of us can do.”

All week I’ve been thinking about this. About doing my best. Not taking too much credit (for either the good or the bad) and loving my people well. —Not toward perfection, but toward something else. Toward courage, I guess. Courage to be honest and vulnerable and able to make the sort of mistakes that allow us to learn, and then forgive ourselves.

This isn’t a parenting blog, it’s a blog about food, mostly. And some writing. And doing right by both. But I’m also a mom. My kitchen is messy and my heart is messy, so I’m going to take one post a week—a weekend post—and blog about what it means, for me, to live bravely in all of the messes. As a mom, a wife, and a home cook. And maybe you’ll find a word or two that encourages you. We’re in this together, after all. This thing called life. Around and around and around the sun we go . . .

So here’s to messy kitchens and messy hearts. This is the stuff courage is made of. Take this brand new week to live in that direction. Mistakes and all, because they’re simply opportunities to learn and live bravely.

Be well!