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Michigan, United States

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pat's Bakery

Christmas this year inspired me to try my hand at baking. Not really sure why, it was a spur of the moment decision, but as Melissa was talking with her cousin about our Christmas dinner I blurted out that we would bring an apple pie…the whole time I was thinking that this wasn’t going to be some factory processed dessert, but instead a delicious treat that I would craft from scratch with my own hands. Sounded great…the only problem, I had never baked anything before. I was going to need help!
First thing I did was call my mom. Years of making incredible apple pies couldn’t be disregarded, and her apple pies were my favorite…I needed her recipe and her tutelage if my apple pie was going make the grade. I also knew I was going to be relying on Melissa’s baking prowess also, but for now I was keeping her in the dark as to my plans for recruiting her into Pat’s bakery.
After a quick email and a couple of phone conversations I was armed with my materials list and a warning…a warning I couldn’t take lightly. My mother suggested buying a crust! I was shocked when she spoke those words, for it was my every intent to take basic ingredients and form them into a masterpiece of culinary delight. No, there would be no buying of a frozen, dull, and unloved crust. My mission would not be thwarted by the faithlessness of my own mother.
Because of Melissa’s baking we had many of the ingredients already on hand, but apples had to be purchased. Too the store we went, and yes, Melissa came with me, and it’s a good thing she did. My mom’s recipe called for Gala apples, but at the produce section there were many apples and try as I might I could not discern the differences between them. I became agitated as I inspected each bag looking for the illustrious pronouncement of Gala, but it was useless…the bags only said “Apples”. Until, of course Melissa pointed and said “See, right there, under the word apple; it says Gala.” And so it did…who ever thought that red printing on a clear bag filled with red apples was a good idea.
With the shopping finished the day of baking was now at hand. I had my mother’s recipe, I had a Betty Crocker cookbook and I had my materials, but there was one thing missing; an expert hand to assist me on this endeavor. Simple solution you might think…ask your wife, she’s baked plenty and would be happy to help, and of course you would be right, but such a request could not be handled so flippantly. You see, I couldn’t just ask. Such a sign of weakness at this crucial moment could damage both my own wavering confidence and perhaps even snatch away the entire project as Melissa might fear an inferior product at her family’s Christmas dinner. I would have to handle this delicately and with careful guile.
I entered the kitchen, and slowly but in obvious fashion gathered my tools and edible components, and I listened. I didn’t take long. From the living room came her voice…like the soft whisper of a baking angel. “Hon, would like some help?” Hell yes I want some help I almost yelled, but with years of practiced reserve I replied half-heartedly “Sure, if you want to.”
And so it began, I and Melissa elbow deep in flower and apples, running around the kitchen like crazed bakers. It was fantastic, and through it all…the joy, the tears and the laughter…we had an APPLE PIE! It was beautiful. It was glorious. Now, hopefully it would taste as good as it looked. Two days till Christmas dinner, when relatives would tear through the delicate lattice top and devour the golden goodness inside. The wait was excruciating.
At this point I’ll save you all the gory details, but in the end the apple pie was pretty darn good. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, but there was definitely room for improvement. Not quite the ending I envisioned, but satisfying none the less. Perhaps next year will be the masterpiece I had planned, but if not…there’ll always be another holiday and another apple pie.

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