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My mother-in-law cooked simple, comfort food with home-grown vegetables and sweet iced tea. More often then not, every meal included the creamiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted. She fixed stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals so the men and boys could get back to the farm and cattle work. One of the dishes she excelled at, and my husband’s all time favorite, was her apple pie. Made from scratch crust and juicy apple slices drenched in cinnamon and sugar, this pie didn’t need ice cream. Every bite had to be savored and enjoyed on its own. Ice cream only distracted from the happiness in your mouth.

My mother was a good cook too, but she taught me how to take advantage of time-saving conveniences. Mom usually had a project waiting in the sewing room, so cooking was something we had to do before we could do something else. I remember my grandmother’s shock when Mom paid extra for a fryer that was already cut up. Why roll out a crust from scratch when Pillsbury does it for you?

Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Several weeks ago I thought about pie instead of cake for my husband’s birthday. On this particular morning though, the pie crusts in my freezer were dried and cracked. Freezer burn. I told my husband, “I might make a pie crust from scratch.” He stopped in mid-stride on his way through the kitchen and looked at me with concern.

“Are you sure about that?” he said. “I can go to town.” He really wanted an apple pie for his birthday.

“I think I can make one,” I told him.


We live about ten miles south of town, so driving to the grocery store for one item seems a waste of gas. I usually try to make do with what I have. Should I make a cake instead? As I recall, I learned about flaky pie crusts a long time ago in Mrs. Snider’s homemaking class. In fact, the first kitchen item I purchased as a new bride was a pastry blender. I didn’t go crazy with it, but I have rolled out a few crusts over the years. Instead of Pinterest, this time I went to my old recipe file.

Believe it or not, I found the card. On a manual typewriter, I had carefully filled out index cards for every recipe from High School homemaking class. Sad to say some of them have been lost from various moves, but there was the pie crust recipe titled PASTRY.

I am happy to report that my pastry blender still works like a charm and the pie turned out perfect.

It’s amazing to me how the smallest, most insignificant events stay in your head. Wasn’t it just yesterday I was there in a high school classroom watching the teacher blend butter into the flour? I loved how she was so detailed and specific with instructions. Mrs. Snider has probably made countless pie crusts since, and she probably never gave the class curriculum a second thought. I paid attention that day, and her little lesson served me well.

Big life events make an impression, but isn’t it funny how little moments do too. Next week at Thanksgiving with your family and friends, ask someone to share a favorite story about their high school days. You should tell someone a story about your “good ole’ days” too, or take copies of  a long-forgotten family recipe and hand them out to everyone. What I wouldn’t give to have my parents and grandparents back in their places at the holiday table this year. There are so many stories left untold, and so many questions left unanswered. No matter how insignificant it may seem to you, that one moment could find a permanent place in someone’s memory. Who knows, you might even be the subject of a blog several decades later.


from Joanne Snider (Homemaking, Dimmitt High School)

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup shortening

3 Tb. water (about)

Sift flour and salt together. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until size of small peas. Sprinkle water over mixture, while pressing quickly with a fork, until particles stick together. Form into smooth ball. Lightly roll pastry into circle that is two inched larger than pan. Always roll from center out to edge. Fold in half and put in pan. Or roll up on rolling pin. Cut off excess edges and flute or crimp edges. Prick entire crust thoroughly before backing. Back in hot oven 425 for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and fill.

Double the recipe for a double crusted fruit pie. Do not prick the crust as all the juice will run out. Bake fruit pie 350 for about an hour.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

All photos by N. Bright.

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger, hobby photographer, speaker and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the RESCUE ANIMAL picture book series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Visit her Amazon Author Page to learn more about other published works.