As I finished having a meal of roast pork recently, I got the bright idea to turn my leftovers into a meat pie. However, I had to deal with the fact that I have never made a pie crust before. I was not afraid to try. My mom Susan baked many pies and as far back as
I can remember she showed my brothers and sisters and I the steps in making a piecrust. In fact, she baked pies in Attawapiskat to generate some income for the family by selling them in the community. I have memories of mom turning her kitchen into a bakery. She assigned us all to tasks that included mixing dough, pouring filling and crimping the edges of the piecrust. She handled the important task of rolling out the dough and placingthe resulting round shapes carefully into pans.
As I worked in the kitchen to make my own meat pie, I thought of all the tips and tricks mom provided us in producing piecrust. First, I made my filling by frying ground beef withsome onions and adding this to my pork and vegetables. Then I set about making the crust.
I found a recipe from a stack of cook books my friend Emily keeps handy in the kitchen. The next thing you know I was ready to start baking. Emily was also there to keep an eye on my work and make sure I did not mess up my crust. I suspected the recipe was not difficult but the hardest part was getting a proper mix of ingredients to make a solid heavy ball of sticky dough. Another difficult part was rolling out the dough.
I learned from my mom that a generous amount of plain flour on the counter, on your rolling pin and on your hands makes the work a lot easier. After a few failed attempts, I got my crust to the right thickness and laid out my flattened dough onto the prepared pie plates. I had no trouble in crimping the crusts shut as it was one of the jobs my mom assigned us younger children during her pie assembly line. Now all I had to do was sit back and let the oven turn my doughy pie shapes into golden brown crust.
I was proud of my work with the realization of course that the lessons from my mom and thetips from Emily would certainly help with the final product. I must admit that while I was putting together this pie I was a bit shocked at the ingredients demanded for piecrust.
I could not believe what goes into a piecrust. Every recipe for just one bottom and one top piecrust requires about three or four cups of flour and half a pound of either lard orvegetable shortening. I always suspected that any pie is rich in calories.
After putting one together I wondered if it was wise to even be eating this stuff. Put it this way, if I had two pieces of this pie it would be like eating a quarter pound of fat or lard and if it were a berry pie it would include a huge serving of sugar. I am just talking about the crust here. Add to that a rich meat pie filling or a sweet fruit fillingand you have a recipe for a heart attack.
That said, I was more than happy to sit down and serve up my first meat pie. The crust wasnot perfect but it was tasty enough. I sure didn’t reach for a second piece with my new found knowledge of what all that fat and sugar was going to do to my body.
Now that I had a chance to think about this it occurred to me that most of the time people are not aware of what ingredients go into prepared food. My parents and others from their generation in Attawapiskat took for granted that the food they bought at the store was good for them. They and most people I know from up north simply trusted that anyone in the food business would provide products that would be safe to eat.
Surprise, surprise. Little did they know that eating canned foods, packaged meals and nutrient-depleted breads, sugars and flour was an unhealthy choice that would affect them later in life. Statistics in First Nation communities show a high rate of obesity, diabetes and cancers of the bowel and digestive systems. I am no scientist or medical expert but now I must admit I have a little bit of knowledge about pies. Pies are scary.
Actually, pies are not all that bad when compared to some of the fast food, frozen meals and processed products that contain lists of unidentifiable, unpronounceable and in some cases, dangerous ingredients. How many times have you looked at an ingredient list and you found that you were unable to recognize or pronounce many of the items listed on product packaging?
Now I am taking a closer look at the products I am buying and I have decided that when buying a food item, if I find more than three items that I don’t recognize or that I can’t pronounce, then back on the shelf it goes. I don’t want to give up on my new found knowledge in making a pie. I’ll just make small ones.