It is a well known fact that the weather can wreak havoc on any baking process no matter how talented the chef. However for me all too often it is not just the weather outside that affects my pie crust and cookie dough. It is also the weather inside; The storms and breezes that blow through my heart as fiercely or as gently as any outside my window. From what I have observed over the years, my pastry can always tell when I am feeling anxious, angry, happy or sad. Maybe it is by the temperature of my hands, the force of my stirring, or the salty tears that fall into the mixing bowl that my true feelings are revealed. Somehow my doughs and mixtures just seem to absorb all of the tension or peace I am feeling, whether I like it or not.
This is how the crazy-quilt patchworked pot pie came to be.
This past Spring was a rough one for our little crew. We lost pets, we lost a buyer for our house, we lost bits of hope, we lost lots of sleep. We took on new roles at work, we took on new projects on the house,
we took on a lot of stress and worry. We found ourselves rudderless more than once.
But still we had to eat. And on a budget. And healthily-ish (is that a word? Well it should be.)
So in a frugal decision to use what we had and to not to order Chinese I decided to make a potpie using various leftovers from the fridge and freezer. I started with the crust. I made the dough, using the same Martha Stewart recipe I have for years. But nothing I could do would keep this dough together. It fell apart in my hands, it stuck to the counter, to the rolling pin, to the knife. No amount of flour or sweet talking would convince it to cooperate.
The dough could tell. It could sense how close I was to falling apart myself.
It could feel in every roll of the pin how desperately I wanted to lie down on the cold kitchen floor
and be rolled out myself. How terribly thin and stretched I felt.
How sticky and uncooperative everything in my life seemed to be.
And how guilty and ungrateful I felt for not being able to buck up better.
So I gave up.
"Fine. Be that way!" I said to the crust.
And I started scooping up the bits of dough off the counter and pressing them into my iron skillet,
muttering the whole time.
"Who cares if you aren't perfect? Who cares if you are pieced together?
What does it matter? You don't seem to care, so I don't care!"
I pieced and I pressed and somehow I managed to cover the bottom and sides of my pan
with a thin buttery layer of pie crust.
Once that was done I was able to add the filling, throwing in what I had on hand:
2 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of frozen veggie mix
1/2 cup leftover corn kernels
1 can of white meat chicken, drained
Leftover rotisserie chicken meat chopped up (about 11/2 cups)
1 leftover baked potato cut into slices
1/2 a yellow onion chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
After my filling was done I went back to my dough and began to roll it out again as best I could,
hoping to make a pretty top for my pie. But of course it fell apart too.
What was I thinking? There would be no hiding this imperfect crust.
So again I patchworked it. I peeled the dough off the counter top and rolling pin piece by piece
and placed each small bit on top of my veggie and chicken filling,
do my best to layer the dough and cover the filling completely.
I placed my pie bird in the center and pre-heated the oven to 425.
Waiting for the oven to heat, Miles and I regarded the concoction sitting on the kitchen table.
Neither of us had much faith in this crazy-quilt pie full of random leftovers
sandwiched between a patchworked crust.
How could something this haphazard, this imperfect, this crazy, be any good?
Perhaps we should order Chinese take-out just to be safe.
But we didn't. We waited while it cooked until the middle was bubbly and the crust golden,
and then we waited another fifteen minutes while the pie cooled and set up.
And we gave that crazy-quilt pie a chance. And it was good. So very, very good.
The crust was perfect and flaky. Each little piece it's own bite of buttery goodness.
Inside, the filling was thick and fragrant and hearty.
That night we ate crazy-quilt patchworked pot-pie until our bellies couldn't hold anymore.
And then we had it the next day for lunch, and it was still good. Maybe even better. Turns out it didn't really matter how the crust looked at all. Looks had nothing to do with how yummy this dish was or how grateful we were to have it for dinner and again for lunch. I promise I could taste joy in this pie. And I could see that joy on the faces of my family as we sat around the table eating this simple supper together.
Since I made the crazy-quilt patchworked pot pie some of the hard things from this Spring have gotten better and some are still a mystery. We still have not sold our house. We still dream and pray for our little farm. We have a new dog whom we love. Except when she eats my throw pillows. We had a wonderful vacation and now a new school and work year with new challenges is just around the corner.
Through it all I am finding that this season of our life is a lot like this pie. It is not at all what I expected. It is not turning out as I had planned. Yet it is still full of delicious and wonderful moments. And despite how hard it is at times, how frustrating and confusing, it is probably exactly what we need. And as my Sweet Man likes to say, "God will meet us wherever we are. Wherever." And I believe he will, even between the most