Normally I'm the baker in the family when it comes to holiday feasts. Several years ago my husband and I flew back to Texas for Christmas and we got in late. I had sent my mom the shopping list for the ingredients I need and she assured me that she’d purchased everything necessary for pumpkin pie and pecan pie. So it’s Christmas day, mid-morning, and I’m all set to make my pies. I go to the fridge and the crusts she has have expired. Um…there’s nothing but Walgreens open on Christmas day and they don’t sell pie crusts. I can make them from scratch, but you need shortening for that and well, we didn’t have any of that either. So I opted for graham cracker crusts – not standard at our house for pies, but hey, I can improvise.
With the pumpkin pies done, I began on the pecan pie. Measure the Karo syrup, melt the butter, pour in the butter, look at the recipe again. OHMYGOSH! That was supposed to be 1 cup of sugar, NOT one cup of butter – I only needed 3 tablespoons of butter. Panic, scoop out as much butter as possible and figure hey, this is how great recipes are created. And it’s butter, how bad could that be? So I add the rest of the ingredients, then pour it into the chilled graham cracker crust, only this 9 inch pie plate is either mislabeled or something else because the pie overflows all over the table. So I salvage most of the pie and pour it back into the mixing bowl and try to recreate the crust in a larger pie plate. At this point, it’s just become hysterical and I’m convinced this is going to be the worst pecan pie in history, but I persevere cause that’s what I do.
So the pie is successfully in the reconstructed crust and I throw it in the over. It didn’t much look like pecan pie and it had a rather sticky consistency, but according to my family it was the best pecan pie they’d ever had – although being the smart alecks that they are, they referred to it as the butter pie. I can’t imagine that I can recreate this recipe, but perhaps I’ll give it a try someday.
But as I reflected on this amusing and frustrating experience, I saw the glaring parallel to my writing process. I read something recently where one famous author said that a writer learns to write a book by writing it. To which another author replied that unfortunately writing that book doesn’t prepare you to write the next book. So the fact that I’ve made a million pies didn’t necessarily mean that I could successfully bake another one. Consequently, just because I’ve written books before doesn’t mean that I know what I’m doing when I start on the next book. I generally make one blunder after another while I write my first draft, but at the end of my frustrating and (somewhat) amusing process I end up with a book that hopefully readers will connect with.
So how about you? Ever made a big cooking blunder? Did it come out okay or did you make a big stinky mess?
Happy Thanksgiving and be sure you enter my huge holiday contest.