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Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

For our last card party before Christmas, Gail was the hostess and she wanted to have a pie party. We each needed to make a different kind of pie. I pride myself on being a great pie maker. My mom had taught me years ago how to make and handle dough; the secret was to use lard, touch it as little as possible and throw it back into the icebox when distracted during the process. I quickly signed up to make my specialty of the season, pumpkin pie. I called Gail and I was grateful that no one had signed up already to make one. I knew that Judy Anne would make her traditional pecan pie and I really wanted to learn how to make one that didn’t run as soon as you sliced into it. The ones I had attempted seemed too gooey and I wasn’t fond of that texture. To develop a smooth custardy texture in a pumpkin pie took time and I knew how to select small sweet pumpkins.

Chloe was going to make a quiche. I was thinking sweet and she was thinking savory. I had listened to Chloe talk about the beauty of the quiche many times. Virtually anything could be put into it and made into a small meal. I knew its origins came from the abundance of eggs Chloe had on her farm in France and the scarcity of other food to eat during the war. Surprisingly, it did not remind her of the hardships of the war and knowing that she did not like leftovers, provided a good way to use up food that she wanted to camouflage as something else for the next meal. Chloe had taught me a few life lessons and I counted this one as an important one.

The day before the party, I prepared the pumpkins and mixed my secret concoction of spices meant to add warmth to the pie. My crust took some time because I had to stop to answer the phone a couple of times, but I tossed the crust into the icebox while I talked to Mags and Gail. Mags was in the middle of making a French Silk Pie. I knew it would be spectacular. Gail was suffering through making an Apple Pie because two of her children had colds and needed attention. Gail told me that she couldn’t remember if she put all of the ingredients into the pie before she placed it into the oven. I have had that feeling in the past.

I finally finished the pie and wanted to do something special with the scraps to make a cool crust. I took a small cookie cutter and made little leaves and eggwash glued them onto the pie. I knew once I took the pie out of the oven, I would need to make special crusts moving forward. So much pressure.

The next day, we all showed up with our pies in hand. The spread was beautiful. There was plenty to eat and we didn’t play cards very long because we had our secret Santa gifts to pass out also. It was a lovely way to end the year of parties. My pie was pretty and there were lots of compliments on the special crust. But I was focused on that Pecan Pie. I took my time enjoying my sliver and sat down with Judy Anne to ask her about making it. She shared a couple of hints about getting the right consistency. But the real secret was the shot of rum she added. The rum explained why I really liked it. I asked her about adding chocolate chips to it and she got a funny look on her face. I realized that what I suggested was offensive to her thoughts on the purity of her Pecan Pie. I stammered a little about not wanting to copy her but I could tell that I had broken some kind of southern rule. I apologized and returned to discussing her pie.

The next day, I made another pie and served it to my family. The children loved it and Steve pronounced my crust crispy and delicate. So sweet of him; he’s a man who usually likes a good Apple Pie. I had added some chocolate chips to a pecan pie recipe, but left out the rum and it turned out better than any one I made previously. I was proud of myself but decided not to tell Judy Anne about it. Sometimes, pies have to remain secret.

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