Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grandma Webb's pie crust

When I was a little girl my great grandma & grandpa Webb lived in the yellow farm house at what is now 6998 Spearsville Road. Back then it had a Rural Route number, the yard had a fence around it and there was a huge stump in the side yard where we used to have tea parties. Grandma Webb always seemed tiny and birdlike to me even when I was little myself. When I picture her in my mind I see her with damp hair in a hot kitchen baking or sitting on the porch shelling peas. I learned a lot from her from "helping". She always let me roll out any leftover scraps to make cinnamon pinwheels. That's what I served at my tea parties on the stump in the yard.

This is her pie crust recipe:

Grandma Webb's pie crust:
Put 6 cups chilled flour, 3 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of salt in a large bowl.
Cut in 2 cups chilled lard. (Use a pastry cutter or if you want to do it like she did use 2 knives. Keep cutting the lard smaller and smaller until no piece is bigger than a pea.)
Beat  1 large egg. Add egg to mixture tossing with fork.
Add ice water a little at a time until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Do not over handle.
Roll out on a floured surface.

This is still my favorite pie crust recipe for fruit pies or for meat pies. I especially love it when I make chicken pot pie in my biggest iron skillet. When I have bits of dough left over I still re-roll them, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, cut them into pinwheels and bake  them up for a treat... even if the grand kids aren't around to have a tea party. :^)

I can't recall how many pie crusts this basic recipe made. I do remember my grandma Dorothy and great grandma Webb would make a lot of pie crust. They would get out all of their many pie pans. Each pan got a bottom crust, a layer of waxed paper and a top crust and another layer of waxed paper. When all of the pans were filled they were nested together in a stack wrapped neatly in plastic wrap and tucked away in the freezer for future use. The farm wife's version of convenience food.

Fannie Farmer

Fannie Farmer that mythical homemaker created by the Boston Cooking school in 1896. She was the inspiration for most of my mother's memorable meals and my introduction to the joys of cooking. I recently ordered a used copy of it for my cookbook collection because my mother won't let go of hers until her fingers are cold and gray. Can't blame her. It holds some of my best memories... I mean recipes. Sometimes those get pretty mixed up for me.

My new-to-me copy is just about as well used as my mother's copy so I wonder who held it and leafed through it's pages over the years looking for just the perfect recipe to impress their in laws or feed their growing family. It's fun to guess what the favorite recipes were for it's original owner by looking at the wear and stains on the pages.

I'm glad to have this old friend back in a place of honor on my bookshelf. In fact I'm thinking of ordering a copy of the original printing from 1896. We are moving so far from modern convenience foods it would be nice to have a cookbook from the time when my great grandmother was feeding her family from the bounty of the farm.