I just made three pies last night, remembering my grandmother who'd taught me how to make pie crust years ago. One other thing she'd taught me was how to make a design with the vents on the crust. Rather than making a cross or star, she'd draw three wavy lines coming down close together at the bottom, then cut vents on each side, angled like the vanes of feathers or the individual grains of wheat. Then she'd add a small line for the ground and told me, "Other people do stars and such, but this is what my mother taught me, and her mother before. In fact, this pattern is what all the ladies in neighborhood did."
The neighborhood, in this case, would have been Eddyville, Iowa, circa 1930.
That was of course as a kid, but as I got older, and saw a bit more, I realized the pattern was a stylized wheat sheaf or maybe a three feathers motif. It's very beautiful and also has the feeling of being very old, something I could easily see a pioneer woman making, or in colonial days, or in some old Dutch master's still life, or even on a medieval table or before.
Anyone have any particular patterns they were taught to make, any family traditions?
by Jen Wheeler | At Christmas time, there are cookies galore, but true dessert lovers still crave something more substantial...