Being in the kitchen with the kids is a great bonding experience. And more so for the grandparents who we don’t see as often as we’d like. I like to think of it as a productive use of time as well as the end result can be dinner on the table or snacks for the week prepared! Cooking with kids teaches them more than just cooking. Cooking for my mum was a fun and rewarding way of teaching her dyslectic teenage step son how read. Cooking can help learn planning, presentation, creativity, time management, being proud of your accomplishments, discipline, improvisation (a big one in my kitchen!), safety, sharing, and many other life lessons. It’s also a way to teach family history and heritage passing down recipes and experience that often come with entertaining stories.
My father being Hungarian born loves sharing his Goulash, Paprikas, Stuffed capsicums, Gulaska (affectionately known by us as kids as ‘whitchetty grubs’ when we were kids!) – it was soul food, plus a history lesson for us and his heart on a plate. I learnt pie mastery from my mother-in-law, and she learnt pie making from her mother-in-law. My mother-in-law is known as the pie making queen – mastering light flaky pastry, perfect fruit combinations, and sparkling sugar dusted creations. I hear stories of when my husband was growing up, pies were often the birthday ‘cake’ of choice rather than actual cake. Being supplied by mother nature with the most amazing and plentiful wild blueberries along their summer property meant no end of blueberry pie, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes in the summer months and sometimes into the winter months if any fruit made it to the freezer!
So naturally I want my children to learn all these family history lessons, life skills and the experience some of the love and passion that goes into cooking and sharing food, and hey if the end goal is that they can cook me dinner some time or breakfast in bed, then BONUS! Kids can be helping in the kitchen as early as the age of 2 – pouring, stirring and rolling and hopefully by the age of 10 whipping up some basic recipes. The special times with grandparents and grandchildren is priceless…for both. I hope there are plenty more family recipes I can pass down to my children, but others that are special grandma and grandpa recipes they learn from the people who can tell the story, show the meaning and leave a legacy.
Grandma Kurth's Fruit Pie
For the Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening (Grandma tip: I use Crisco, but it’s fine to use butter or lard)
1⁄3cup iced water (Grandma tip: the colder the water the better, so put an ice cube in a 1/3 cup measure of cold water to sit while you start making the crust)
In a large bowl mix flour, salt, and shortening together, lightly working dough between finger tips of one hand and palm of other hand, until dough is mixed thoroughly and resembles coarse crumbs. (Grandma tip: Food processor may be used for this step, although I’ve always done it by hand, feeling that I have better control of the process).
Make a well in centre of bowl and pour ice water into it. With fork, mix dough lightly using a cutting method until water is incorporated and dough begins sticking together. With lightly floured hands, divide dough in half, forming 2 balls. Place balls in plastic bag with twist-tie, or wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. (Grandma tip: make one ball of dough slightly larger than the other so the larger one can be used for the bottom of the pie and the smaller one can be used for the top).
Prepare 4 to 5 cups fruit or berries – wash, peel, slice, etc and place in a large bowl. Add 1-2 cups sugar (closer to 2 cups for rhubarb!) and 2 tablespoons flour, mixing gently with wooden spoon so as not to bruise fruit, until fruit is well-coated. For apple pie, cinnamon and nutmeg may be added. Let stand at room temperature in bowl while rolling out pie crust. (Grandma tip: I substitute Quick Tapioca for the flour. Also for wetter fruit like berries increase the flour/tapioca slightly, for drier fruit like apples, 2 tablespoons if fine). Some lemon zest and a few teaspoons of juice are a nice addition to balance out the sweetness!
Rolling out and filling pie crust
Prepare board for rolling out pie crust by covering it with a sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle plastic sheet liberally with flour. Cut a second sheet of plastic wrap same size as first and set aside. Remove 1 ball of dough from fridge – the slightly larger one. Place in centre of floured plastic wrap and flatten slightly with well-floured palm of hand. Place remaining piece of plastic wrap over flattened dough ball. With rolling pin on top of plastic wrap, roll out dough, from centre outward in all directions, with quick, light strokes until circle is slightly larger in diameter than the pie plate (10 – 11 inches).
Place pie plate at edge of circle of dough. Lift bottom sheet with one hand while holding rolling pin close to same edge in other hand. Gently lay pie crust back over rolling pin, peeling plastic wrap off bottom and lay it into pie plate, using rolling pin to slowly move it into place. Carefully remove remaining piece of plastic wrap.
Place prepared fruit in the crust. Place 4 or 5 small dots of butter randomly over filling.
Following method described above, roll out second ball of dough and place atop filling. Using tines of a fork dipped in flour, press top and bottom crusts together around edge of pie to seal. With a sharp paring knife, trim excess crust off from around edge of pie. (Grandma tip: To make a crimped edge, push up edge of crust with forefinger of one hand while pinching crust together with thumb and forefinger of other hand, around single finger). Continue process around edge of crust. Trim excess crust as described above.
Using the paring knife, make some slits in top of crust, randomly or in a design, to allow steam to escape during baking. With a pastry brush, brush top crust with the 1 egg white that has been whisked until fluffy. For extra sparkle, sprinkle some granulated or raw sugar over egg white on top of crust. (Grandma tip: Place pie on a cookie sheet to catch any filling that bubbles up and out during baking).
Place pie in a pre-heated 425-degrees farenheit/220-degrees celsius oven and bake for 15 minutes to “set” the crust. Then reduce oven to 350 degrees farenheit/180 degrees celsius and continue baking for 40 – 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to make sure the crust is not browning too fast, in which case you can lower the heat a bit. Pie is done when crust is golden brown and some bubbling occurs up through edges of crust.
Place on cooling rack and let stand 15 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. May be served with ice cream or whipped cream. Pie may be refrigerated or frozen until ready to use, then brought to room temperature and warmed slightly in oven.
From our kitchen to yours x