Have you ever found yourself doing something simply because it is a family tradition and thinking, why am I doing this? Or, whoever thought of doing this? I read an anecdote about a family who always asked the butcher to cut off the small end of the ham, which they placed beside the larger portion to cook. When one of the daughters married, her new husband asked her why she cooked ham this way. She replied because it is the best way...my mom always cooked it this way. At the next family gathering, he queried the mother as to why she cooked ham in that manner. She affirmed that it was the best way because her mother had always done it that way. The next time the man saw the grandmother, he remembered to ask her why she cooked hams that way. She laughed and responded that her roasting pan was small and that was the only way the ham would fit!
I love pie, but hate to make piecrust. When I was first married, I was enthralled with the picture of the piecrust in the Betty Crocker cookbook. I have wasted hours of my life trying to make the perfect piecrust. And so I would only make pies for very special occasions or holiday. Since most of the other holidays had their own sweet dishes, pies became THE thing for Easter. A wonderful friend gave me an easy recipe for fresh strawberry pie and together with lemon meringue, they were necessities for our family celebration. We probably have more pictures of the girls stirring and then slicking the bowls of the Easter pie fillings than we have of them dyeing their Easter eggs. We didn't have pie at the end of the meal, because we couldn't properly appreciate it while we were so full. We would wait until just about sunset and then mark the end of another memorable Easter by consuming a huge piece of pie.
One Easter, we were not in the mood for the usual sit-down formality of a meal and so we put the ham and potato salad and rolls in a picnic basket and drove a few miles to the backside of nowhere and picnicked and then flew kites all that windy afternoon. We weren't quite prepared, however, to completely break with tradition and so we got home in time for sunset and the Easter pies.
As the years piled up and our family changed, we opted to make Easter dinner into Easter brunch. The Editor would make an unbelievable number of waffles that we would sometimes eat as we walked from the kitchen to the dining room so they would not be less than piping hot as we consumed them. Busybody taught us to eat fresh strawberries dipped first in sour cream and then in brown sugar, and so we no longer needed the strawberry pie. For several years, there were only adults at these get-togethers and they changed quite a bit to accommodate the composition of the family. Usually, one or more daughters would need to leave to visit the other family that now had share rights and the sunset pie was no longer a whole family observance.
This year it was only me and the Norwegian at home for Easter but I still felt compelled to make an Easter pie. The crust didn't seem so difficult--maybe because there was only need for one. And then, because the Norwegian was gone for the day and I had more time than usual, I happened to take note of the microwave instructions on the box of the lemon pudding and pie filling. I would never have departed from the tried and true stirring-in-a-pan method if we had been having guests for dinner. But, I can give up some points on taste in order to gain convenience and, really, is a husband going to notice? Surprisingly, it was easier! I licked the bowl--myself--trying to determine what made those scraped up bits so delectable to little girls. And now I know!
The celebration is over, the pie is gone, but memories have a way of hanging around. Maybe that's why we start traditions, steadfastly maintain them and pass them on.
Posted by The Editor for Gigi.