Sunday I found myself remembering my Mother and part of what I remember best was her cooking. The truth is the lady could not cook very well. In her defense she had not been taught how to cook as a child so I am amazed that we didn’t starve. Most recipes until the Betty Crocker cookbooks came out assumed cooks knew a lot of basic things that Mom really didn’t.
One summer Mom decided to make use of the wild grapes that grew along the north fence of the back yard. The birds liked to eat them and although she loved birds she thought that she would make a grape pie as a surprise for Dad. He liked pie better than anything else. He also liked the color purple so it seemed like a good idea. An added benefit was that it would fill up a summer afternoon and give us something to do together.
She looked through all her cookbooks and talked to a couple of the neighbors. She couldn’t call my Dad’s aunt for advice because back then long distance calls were expensive and people only made them in case of a dire emergency. She finally had enough information to believe she could put together a grape pie. It’s too bad there was no internet.
We gathered all the tiny ripe grapes we could find and finally had enough. From reading many recipes and from what one of the neighbors told her she found out she would need to remove the skins, the pulp and take the seed out of each individual miniature grape. I would have given the project up as a lost cause at that point and wished the birds happy eating.
We dissected the grapes and Mom cooked and then mashed the hot pulp though a sieve to remove the seeds. She combined the skins and pulp together along with cornstarch and sugar and cooked it to make the filling. The easy part was making the pie crust. She had almost enough filling for one pie. She added a meringue instead of a top crust to fill it out.
After many long boiling hot hours and against all odds she had managed to produce a perfect looking and smelling grape pie. Dad devoured two pieces before Mom and I could finish our first. He finally told Mom later that evening it was a pretty good pie and asked if she could make another sometime. Her comment, “Glad you enjoyed it. There will never be another.”
Dad didn’t get it. He had no concept of how much work it had been or the amount of time it had taken to bake one pie. Even after my parents installed air conditioning Mom never baked another grape pie and would glare daggers at Dad if he brought up the subject.