Pumpkin Pie Night

When I was growing up, Sunday dinners were a big deal.  There was no such thing as three meals on Sunday because our lunch/dinner after church was so BIG that it counted as two meals at least.  Anyway, if we got hungry later on Grandma always had (has) ice cream at her house.

Because our dad raised his own cattle (read: beef), we were pretty spoiled.  We ate steaks and roasts and fresh hamburger to our heart’s content, and we feasted especially well on Sunday.  It placed a pretty big burden on my mother’s shoulders, and we would do what we could to help out.  One Sunday, my dad offered to make Sloppy Joes.  I jumped in to help.  It shouldn’t have been complicated because Dad had TWO cans of Sloppy Joe Mix on the counter next to the stove.  We browned the hamburger, drained it, and added the cans of sloppy joe mix.  We sniffed the mixture and taste-tested it.

It needed salt.

Oh, and pepper.

“What other spices does your mother have up there?” Dad asked.  I read what spices I could read out loud to him.  When I got to lemon pepper, he stopped me.

“Let’s put some of that in there,” he said.  And so we did.  The ending result was a Sunday tradition between my dad and I.  We never did write out exact recipe down, but I DO remember that we never failed to add the lemon pepper, and it never failed to taste absolutely wonderful.

About a week ago, my dad told me that he’d bought a hand mixer to puree butternut squash and pumpkin with.  He wanted to make pie, and he wanted my help.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I LOVE it when people need my help.  It makes my heart do front flips.  I’ve often been referred to as “overbearing” so when someone comes to ME and asks for help, I’m basically a wreck of excitement.  Yesterday I made five pie crust (three flaky-plain and two gingersnap), and I took them, along with my family and two pie plates, up to my folks’ house.  After crashing their dinner (thanks again, Mom.  I really wasn’t up to cooking last night!), we started making pies.

I can’t express my love for my parents in words.  I really can’t.  Last night was so much fun, and I know I’ll remember it forever.  I loved bustling around my mom’s kitchen, handing Dad the sugar canister and teaspoons, washing dishes here and there, teaching my little brother how to make Flat Apple Pie, and pressing pie crust into pie tins.

I loved listening to my dad figure out how to cook a recipe in his wife’s kitchen.

“Where’s the teaspoons?” He asked, fumbling through a drawer that held measuring CUPS but not spoons.  I handed him my mother’s Pampered Chef Adjustable teaspoons:

He was impressed with how handy they were until it came time to adjusting them.
“How do you move it?” He’d ask. I’d show him, and we’d go on cooking. My Dad is infamous for leaving out the end of his sentences. Everyone in his family EATS it up, and we love it when he does it. If you spend enough time around him, you can usually figure out what he wants without him having to say it, and last night was no exception.
“Leasha, can you hand me the…” he said. I looked up to see him holding a nearly-clean bowl full of squash puree. I could see that he needed a rubber spatula. I held one up.
“This?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he took it from me, then asked, “What are these called?”
“Rubber spatula,” I said.
“Spatula!” he said, “That’s it.”

Then, after the pie filling was 100% ready to go, he remembered that we forgot to preheat the oven.
“Oh, turn it on!” He said.
“Mom already did,” I replied.

As we worked through making four butternut squash pies and one apple pie, the kitchen became a swirling vortex of cheery mayhem. Fresh eggs were cracked, tart apples were peeled and sliced. Ginger was spilled. Pie Filling was splattered all over Dad.

And I won’t hesitate to admit that I felt a twinge of delight in my father’s lack of confidence in the kitchen. I bet he felt about how I feel in his mechanic shop.
“Dad, where do you keep the hammers?”

After his first pie came out, Dad surveyed it with an expert eye.
“It looks just like the picture on the paper!” He said, holding up the online directions he’d printed off the Internet.

Mother made fresh whipped cream, and our pie was complete.

It really was the BEST pie I’ve ever had, and I don’t like pie at all.

Here’s to many more Pie Nights. And here’s to cooking with my Pa.