Grandpa Mac, Grandma Louise and daughter Janie
(Janie is the mother of Melanie and Kristin)
My grandmother is 98 years old and still is one of the wittiest women I know and is extremely self-sufficient for her age. I enjoy visiting her and hearing her stories about Oklahoma and West Texas in the “good ol’ days”. My husband recorded her as we sat listening and laughing at the stories she had to tell and the way she told them. I hope to write those stories soon.
Can you believe this beautiful lady is 98 years old!
The one thing that has played over in my mind since our visit is one line that she said to me and that she has been heard to say before. “I hope I am never so lazy that I can’t make my own bed or my own pie crust.”
My mother was always big on ensuring that we made our beds every morning. I didn’t understand why this was so important to her except that it instantly made the room look much more tidy than before. She was especially concerned about this when we stayed in others homes.
Life gets busy with three young boys and although I have tried to instill doing this one task every morning along with getting dressed and brushing their teeth, it doesn’t get done most mornings. Most mornings we are too rushed to get out the door and to school on time that I don’t take the time to do mine, let alone check up on them. To me, it isn’t worth making them late for school.
It is easy for me to balk at her statement and dismiss it as though she has never been as busy as me and just could not possibly understand what being busy means. But recently looking at pictures and listening to stories about raising three children back when you did laundry by hand, taking care of her invalid father-in-law by herself, getting her nursing degree in her 50s, raising cattle and running a farm, all without modern-day luxuries, I realize there is more to what she is trying to say.
These are small luxuries that we can do in such a short amount of time that can make a huge impact in the way we live our lives. Making the bed in the morning neatens the room, which although maybe no one else will see, it gives us one item done on the days to do list and provides a clean canvas for the day. It’s a start, a fresh start to a hurried and busy life we all lead.
When I substitute “old” or for “lazy” it has so much more of a relatable meaning. Most people don’t see themselves as lazy, however understand that we all age. Many fear getting old, not because of age itself, but because of the limitations and constraints put on them by nature. As we get older there are many things we realize that we took for granted when we were younger. Hopping, skipping, and jumping doesn’t come as easy. We all hope and pray that we are never too old to continue doing the things that give us pride, a sense of accomplishment and those things we just love doing.
My grandmother always had fresh pies and cobblers every time we paid a visit, no matter what time of year it was. She had apple, peach, cherry and pecan trees, and after the harvest she would make pie and cobbler fillings using some of the crop and place them in the deep freeze until we visited. We would sit at her kitchen counter and watch her make the crusts for pie and cobbler, usually one for everyone depending on each visitors’ favorite.
I’ve asked for her recipe several times and she laughs “why, a recipe for pie crust, I never heard of such, you just make it, it’s pie crust.” So, this time instead of chattering away, not really paying attention, I watched closely, paid attention and took notes.
She took two large scoops (about 2 cups) out of her orange Tupperware flour container and poured them in a bowl. She added about a tsp of salt and stirred it briefly with a fork. She took her container of shortening out of the refrigerator and added a large glob (it was close to 2/3 cup, I use 3/4 cup Crisco butter flavored shortening) and cut it into the flower using two forks. (This is where I would take a short cut and use a pastry blender.) She continued to cut it in until it looked grainy. And then, this one surprised me, she added cold orange juice (about 4-8 TBSP) and continued to mix with her fork. Next she gathered it with her hands, halved it and made two separate dough balls. She placed flour on the counter and placed one of the dough balls on top. She took out a glass and using the side rolled the dough out on the counter, sprinkling with flour frequently. She placed the first in her pie pan, filled it with the previously made apple pie filling, and proceeded with the second ball of dough just as she had the first and placed it on top. She used her fingers to pinch the edges together and a knife to cut the excess off the sides and to place some slits in the top. She placed some foil around the edges and placed it in the oven at 425 degrees and took it out about 45 minutes later.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3-3/4 cup shortening
4-8 TBSP cold orange juice
For more information on how to perfect your own pie recipe check out “Food Lab: The Science of Pie Dough”