Sue Spitulnik

Writing, Sewing, Travel, and Thoughts



“Free Pie”

The Irish Dancers and their families arrived early at the No Thanks for their usual Saturday practice. Each person entered the bar carrying a pie. Mac and the three generations of his family were already at work in the kitchen. The house band members and families soon arrived with more pies. While the adults cut and plated pie pieces, the dancers made signs that said, FREE PIE ON PI DAY. In small letters, donations accepted, was added.

By the end of the unusual public practice, the pies were gone and donation buckets full. The dancers were off to competition.

Note: Mac, the owner of the No Thanks Needed bar and grill is a first-generation Irish-American. He and his house band are noted for Irish music and holding Irish dancing lessons at the bar on Saturdays. They have an annual fundraiser to offset the costs of the dancers going to a competition.

Written in response to Charli Mills March 14, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about free pie. What kind of pie and freedom? Who is involved with pies? How is it free? Go where the prompt leads!

Pastry; Which is Your Favorite?

There are many different types of pastry, most of which would fall into one of the following categories:

  • Shortcrust pastry – simplest and most common.
  • Sweetcrust pastry – similar to the shortcrust but sweeter.
  • Flaky pastry – simple pastry that expands when cooked.
  • Puff pastry – has many layers that cause it to puff when baked.
  • Choux pastry – very light pastry that is often filled with cream or other fillings.
  • Phyllo pastry – paper-thin pastry dough that is used in many layers.

I didn’t know there were so many types of pastry so I included the above from the National Day of Calendar.

I think we all know the first two types of pastry are your typical pie shell pastries. When making a pie, once you put the crust in the pan, trim the edges even. Those trimmings can be rolled flat, slathered with room temperature butter, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and baked all by themselves. A nice treat when you have to wait for the pie until after dinner.

Flaky pastry would be a biscuit or croissant. You can actually peel away layers.  While the biscuit is still warm, carefully separate the layers, butter and consume with a satisfied sigh.  Yum.

Puff pastry is used to make turnovers, among other things. You can actually see the layers of dough when you cut into it. Cherry turnovers are my favorite.

Choux pastry is used when making an éclair, or cream puff. Don’t forget the chocolate frosting.  My mouth is now watering…..

Phyllo pastry is used when making Baklava or appetizers such as fresh creamed mushrooms. Years ago I had an older lady friend that taught me how to make Baklava. The secret to working with the Phyllo and not having it tear, is to thaw it slowly.  I miss my friend Leta, and being able to eat Baklava without worrying about calories.

If you aren’t the baking type I’m sure you have a favorite place to go to get your pastry fix. Remember, the fresher it is, the better it will be!

National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

Sometimes when you are the youngest you get to help your Mom do something just because you fit in the spot where the problem is.  I must have been about seven years old when I had the privilege of cleaning up the mess of all messes.

Whenever we got a new puppy my mother was the one who had the job of house training  it just because she was home all day.  To make the job easier, and to keep track of the puppy better, we used a table leaf to barricade the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room and to the bathroom.  We humans just had to step over the twelve-inch obstacle.  A black dachshund puppy didn’t know how to jump it.

Shortly after we got Dee, I came home from school one day and could smell lemon when I went in the house.  I thought, “Oh, Mom baked.”  When I got to the dining room I just stood there looking at the remains of a whole lemon meringue pie underneath the dining room table, like someone had thrown it there on purpose.  There were pieces of the meringue in big chunks on the linoleum floor, there was the lemon curd filling hanging on the center, arm size, corkscrew turned spindle table leg and all over the floor, and the unbroken glass dish was upside down wedged against the leg, waiting for someone to rescue it.  Me!

I asked, “What happened?”

My mother was sitting in her green chair at the head of the kitchen table.  Luckily she had a great sense of humor. With a very matter of fact tone, she answered, “I wanted to show your father (who was in the living room) the best meringue I had ever made and I forgot to step over the table leaf.”

“Did you fall down?”

“No, just the pie.”

“Why is it still there?”

“So all you girls could see how perfectly it landed.”

I think I asked if I could eat some of it with a spoon and the answer was no.  After we laughed that someone couldn’t have made it land that way if they had tried, Mom got out two pancake flippers.  She scooped what she could reach off the floor.  I went under the table, got the pie plate, and put what I scooped into that.  Then the “fun” part had to be done.

Mom slid me a large pan of warm water with a dish rag in it.  I sat comfortably under the table and cleaned every individual crevice of that table leg until it wasn’t sticky anymore.

The next day she moved all the chairs away from the table and mopped the floor then made us another lemon meringue pie.

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