Pursuit of the Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Pops loved pumpkin pie. He loved it so much that he learned how to make his own pumpkin pie so that he could have it whenever he wanted. Naturally, pops made the pumpkin pie for each of the holidays. It was tradition and if the family loved anything at all, it was tradition. Mother didn’t like pumpkin pie so she was sincerely relieved that Pops accepted this responsibility. Building the perfect pumpkin pie was a source of pride for Pops.
Mother loved apple pie, Dutch apple pie, the crumb topping apple pie. Now Pops liked Mother’s apple pie, don’t get me wrong; he could eat a whole apple pie in a single sitting. But during the holidays, he always insisted on pumpkin pie. At all the ‘bring a dish to pass’ functions throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Pops was called upon to make the pumpkin pie and Mother brought her homemade apple pie.
Pops had been a scoundrel for much of his life and Mother’s family took a long time to warm up to him. So making the pumpkin pie for Mother’s family became a way to bond, so to speak. Mother’s family could show pleasure in the pie and by doing so would show acceptance for Pops without actually coming out and saying so. Silly, I know, but an old dance we all knew and performed without giving it any more thought.
On one such family occasion years ago, Thanksgiving, I believe, Pops once again made the pumpkin pie. As we all sat around the table after our meal, Grandma started to slice up the pie. The pie looked wonderful, a perfect pumpkin pie. Her smile of anticipation slowly turned into disbelief as her knife started slicing the pie. She took a fork and pulled out a thin piece of paper from inside the pie.
Grandma looked to Mother and they started chuckling as the rest of the table waited for an explanation. Poor Pops. Amidst all the snickers, he turned a few shades of red that day. You see, Pops used store bought pie shells to make his perfect pumpkin pie and he neglected to remove the paper divider in the bottom pie shell before baking. Well, it didn’t stop the family from eating the pie. Apparently, a thin slice of paper doesn’t diminish the taste of pumpkin pie. It is still a family joke around the dinner table whenever pumpkin pie is served.
Trials such as these made Pops very diligent in his pie making. Lessons learned were not forgotten and the paper dividers have not appeared in a single pie since that day. However, the pursuit of the perfect pumpkin pie continues.
This year, as Thanksgiving approached, friends united for a turkey dinner together. Chipping in for the turkey, everyone was to bring a dish to pass. A chart was made and all of the guests put their name next to the item that they intended to bring. Naturally, Pops agreed to make the pumpkin pie. He had boasted about his pie so now was his chance to prove his claims of the perfect pumpkin pie.
Days before the dinner, Pops bought all the items necessary to build his pie. Pops was a fussy baker. He wanted his crusts to be perfect as well. He doesn’t like it when his crusts are too brown or burnt.
So, in the store, he found 2 pie protector rings. These metal rings cover the edge of the pie and keep the crust from burning while baking. He was so excited. He tried the rings over the pie shells right in the store to make sure that they would fit and sure enough, it was a perfect fit. Now, he said, his crusts would be perfect too.
The morning before the big dinner, Pops made his pies. Delicately placing his new pie rings over the crust of his pies, he readies his pies for the oven.
Now Mother uses tin foil when she bakes her pies, cuts off a small sliver and ever so lightly wraps the pie shell edge. Halfway through the baking time, Mother removes the foil from the edge and finishes baking her pies. Her crusts always turn out just fine.
Pops is eager to see his beautiful crusts. So, when the timer goes off and the pies were done, he gently removes the protecting ring. Expecting to see a perfect crust on his perfect pumpkin pie, Pop’s heart sank when he saw his pies. After a few choice words, he announced his pies a disaster.
The rings aren’t heavy by any means, perhaps Pops just pushed the rings down too hard, but the edges of the crust had been completely flattened out. The crusts weren’t just flat, they were burned. Now the rings fit the pie very nicely but the inside of the ring extended over the pumpkin filling just a bit. However, this amount was just enough to touch the pumpkin filling as it baked. So, as Pops lifted the pie rings, he also removed the top of the pumpkin filling all the way around the edge of the pie. As the pies cooled, the pumpkin separated from the edge of the crust leaving a widening gap that Pops was most unhappy about. He firmly declared the pies unworthy and started mixing up another batch.
Deciding his new metal pie shells covers were junk, he takes Mother’s advice and uses aluminum foil to cover the edges of his next pumpkin pie masterpieces. He very carefully covers each part of the crust, tucking the foil tightly around the whole edge and set them in the oven.
Football on the television claims his attention until the timer goes off announcing that the pumpkin pies are done. Pops removes the pies and sets them on racks to cool. Hearing cheers from the football game, Pops is lured back to couch and promptly falls asleep.
Upon waking, he goes to look at his pies. He notices that he has not yet removed the foil off from the edges of the pie and proceeds to undo the foil. The next words, let’s just say……he uttered, brought Mother running to the kitchen to see what was the matter. Pops ever so gently removed the foil and as he did so, the pie crust stuck to the foil. Mother made the mistake of trying to help. She realized soon enough that Pops had wrapped the foil too tightly around the pie crust. By the time the foil was all removed, both of Pop’s perfect pumpkin pies were missing the entire crust.
Pops was disgusted. Mother agreed that the second set of pies were ruined but suggested that the first set would be more than suitable if they just arranged some whipped cream around crust to cover the gap and they could add a little more to cover the burned sections. No one would ever know. Pops stood his ground and very loudly and firmly announced that he would not be bringing any of these pies to the Thanksgiving dinner. So here they sat, four pumpkin pies that tasted delicious but didn’t look so nice. Pops had made the decision not to bring them and he would stick to it.
Early the next morning, Pops made a quick run to the store and brought home three boxes, filled with the most perfect looking pumpkins pies. Mother just smiled and didn't say a word.