Today’s layout tells my own “nailed it” story.
It was the Thanksgiving of 1994—our first since moving to Chapel Hill, NC—and my 28th birthday. Mom and Dad were hosting the holiday, which included Aunt Mary Lou and Earl from Pennsylvania in addition to our family of four. Just days before turkey day Mom had the brilliant idea of holding a pie-baking contest between Phil and me, which was a clever way of getting out of baking the desserts herself. 😉
The gauntlet had been thrown down. Tensions were high as the two of us went to work looking up recipes and making shopping lists for our entries in the contest. Phil decided to go with the always popular (and a bit too obvious, in my opinion) pumpkin pie, while I fearlessly chose to try a new-to-me recipe for peach chiffon pie. I felt confident but nervous.
Aunt Mary Lou and Earl arrived. Everyone was excitedly catching up and in the good spirits of the holiday. Phil had already baked his contest pie, and it was my turn.
Now, those of you who only know me online won’t really understand unless I tell you just how much I like to talk. I am a TALKER. So while I was putting together the all-important pie crust, Aunt Mary Lou parked herself just to the end of the counter where I was working, and we talked. A lot.
I suspect that chemists don’t chat while they’re mixing chemicals, but that’s just a hunch born of my experience on that fateful Thanksgiving Day. At the very least I can conclude that were I a chemist, I should keep my mouth shut while measuring ingredients for my experiments. Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?
I put my crust in to bake and began the task of mixing the silky, sweet, peachy filling—which would be added to the crust and then baked again. At the appointed time I checked on my crust, but I was surprised to find that it hadn’t browned. At all. So I gave it a little more time. But extra time and high temperatures had no effect on the color of my crust. I finally shrugged off this bump in the road, took the pale crust out of the oven, added the filling and popped it back in for its second round of baking.
My confidence at taking home the blue ribbon remained unshaken at this point.
Fast forward to the end of the day’s feast. To a bit of fanfare Mom brought out the ballots and explained to the judges the categories upon which they should score the entries (appearance 10%, filling & crust 40% and overall flavor 50%). Phil and I were asked to cut and serve our pies after the judges had been given the opportunity to rate the appearance of each. Once everyone at the table had been served, the room quieted for the first bites.
My nerves did not allow me to take a taste right away; I was more interested in watching for the reactions of the judges. So I didn’t immediately understand why the room remained eerily quiet as they all chewed. Earl’s face reddened noticeably. Mom and Dad shot questioning glances at each other. Phil choked and spat out his mouthful. And Spenser the schnauzer hid under the couch after willingly taking the bit of crust Earl had offered him. But it was Aunt Mary Lou who finally broke the silence by blurting an expletive. And then pandemonium reigned. Everyone gagged and gasped and shouted over each other. They laughed. And laughed some more. I was crestfallen but finally took a tiny bite of my own pie. Oh myyy.
I had obviously switched the measurements for the salt with the sugar. The extra salt had kept the crust from browning on the first baking. And then it leached up into the peach chiffon filling during the second baking. What a fiasco—but a very funny one.
Of course, Phil won the contest. Whatever. He can have the blue ribbon. Because I have the honor of being the reason for one of the funniest family stories we have. To this day we still refer to that year as our Salt Pie Thanksgiving.
I followed sketch 281 from Creative Scrappers and mainly used products from October Afternoon’s “Apple Cider” line. I created my title using the Silhouette and used several stickers from the Carta Bella “Homemade with Love” kit.
Note: I’m submitting this to the Paper Issues Let Me Espresso My Gratitude link party.
In surveying several online recipes for easiest pie crust or world’s best pie crust, I see some variety. Along with flour and butter, certain recipes call for salt and sugar and some call for salt only. Hmmm. One version requires 1 teaspoon salt to 2 tablespoons sugar. That is 1:6 ratio. Let’s suppose this is the one you followed. This is starting to make some sense. So salt alone would not have created an adverse event for you that fateful holiday, unless maybe you swapped it for the flour. But a tiny bit of sugar out of proportion turned the whole experiment upside down. I would ask you to consult a kitchen chemist if you intend to perpetuate this tale of salt leaching into the filling! Also, a wonderful page, thanks for the memory.
Janice Daquila-Pardo says
I commend the diligence you’ve demonstrated by researching crust recipe ingredient ratios, Phil. And I thank you for lending your journalist’s integrity angle to my story.
Nailed it! 😉