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Baking genes & role models


The pie crust recipe I pass along to new bakers is the same one I learned from my Mom many moons ago. It's the original one that was printed on the Crisco* label, tweaked by corporate over the years, but etched in my brain.

My mother, even with vision and arthritis limitations, still enjoys baking and trying new recipes, and serving them to family and friends. I was fortunate to get to sample both a fluffy, condensed-milk-free key lime pie, and a yummy key lime cheesecake she made while enjoying the snowbird sunshine on the Gulf Coast. Her visitors this winter included her sister and nieces, and I was lucky to get to catch up with them while they were here. Aside from battling various viruses, we had the usual chuckles, stories and walks on the beach. I had picked up some groceries before heading to the beach and offered to make dinner while I was there. One of the nicest things that occurred during my visit, aside from learning how to play pickle ball, was being complimented by my aunt during the meal which we shared around my mom's table. She mentioned how proud and pleased my grandmother would be at the presentation, pointing out how the balanced, heart-healthy meal made for a colorful presentation. You see, their mother was a home-economics teacher who passed along her knowledge and love of cooking and sewing. She loved being involved in the kitchen during holiday visits, and I also remember her showing me the different stitches when she was helping my mom with hand-stitching a hem. While my mom surely inherited the "follow the recipe" guidelines of her home-ec trained mother, I probably got a good share of the round it off/throw it in manner of my dad's mother. Another amazing cook and baker, of German descent, she frustrated my mom by sometimes not quite writing down the exact recipe. At any rate, the proverbial apple didn't fall far from the tree. I loved to experiment with new recipes and bake from an early age, and was known to start baking bread or making donuts when I should have been going to bed. Fortunately I have always liked to share the results, too, and even now that the nest is empty, I find time to bake and willing subjects to sample my wares. I have a little more common sense now and usually look at the clock before starting a time-consuming project. And I have a lot more varied options for pie crust ingredients, and find myself researching and testing new methods. But there is something comforting about knowing you can get it right with a tried and true classic recipe. For some, it may take some practice and patience. But the result is a host of happy taste buds and tummies. And perhaps the beginning of a family culinary history of

your own.

Sisters flanked by sisters, two generations.

*Crisco side note: Some may be turned off by the solid shortening idea, but that discussion will wait for another day. Meanwhile compare to the scary ingredients on store-bought pie crust.