This made me very happy for two reasons. 1) I always like hearing that people read my blog. 2) Chelsea would make it possible for me to have my pie outside of a holiday at home with my parents! Wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles.
Unfortunately Chelsea had unexpected grad school homework come up on the night we were to execute our birth plan for the Pie Messiah. (When I say 'we' I meant I would watch and hand her things while she made it.) I was bummed, but it was a helpful reminder that I receive from many of my friends on a regular basis: grad school is a bitch.
We could have just rescheduled, but I had spent the week anticipating the pie. Imagining how good it would feel to have it in my own fridge where no family members could get to it...the extra gallon of milk I would need to have on hand...the size of the slices I could cut..the knowledge that I could eat it for every meal and only God (and the cats) could judge me. The fantasy had taken hold, and all my reservations concerning my own endeavoring to make the pie were swept away. YOLO.
I still needed to buy some ingredients, so I headed to the grocery store. Not just any grocery store, but this really high-end Schmancy grocery store that just opened in my sleepy little neighborhood. Its products are probably twice the price than they are the nearby Albertsons, but shopping at the Schmancy store makes me feel good about my life. When I buy healthy products there they are organic and local and fresh. When I buy unhealthy products there they are gourmet and made with real milk and sugar and Madagascar vanilla, so I feel like I'm treating myself to the finer things in life. On the flip side, shopping at Albertsons makes me feel gross under their dull florescent lights, disliked by their unhappy employees, and creeped out by their promo-covered windows. Why can't we see into the store?! Why can't your employees see out of it?! Unsettling.
The fancy grocery store has no reward system, but I give them what little money I have because I don't ever want them to leave my neighborhood. I would rather be poor and feel like life is beautiful and I am worth a damn than have more money and eat jalapeno poppers that have been sitting under a heat lamp for 3 days only to pay for it with a stomachache and self-hatred an hour later. I mean, the Schmancy store sells constellation tote bags. CONSTELLATION TOTE BAGS.
Sure, I can't afford one, but just knowing that they exist and Schmancy store chooses to carry them is enough to keep me feeling like the world is not going to hell in a hand basket. Not yet. Not while constellation tote bags are at my local grocery store.
Sorry, this post has gotten away from me. So after I paid for my $8 tiny bottle of vanilla and $7 cornstarch and $4 gallon of milk, I went home to make the pie. By myself. Unsupervised. I also bought a bottle of wine to help quell my anxiety.
So I started putting together the dry ingredients, and then read ahead in the recipe. The pie mixture called for eggs. Eggs! How could I forget to buy eggs! Probably because they are a staple in most people's homes like butter or milk. You know, normal people who eat breakfast and cook stuff.
I was aggravated, but glad I hadn't discovered this missing ingredient before it was too late. You see, you have to add half of the heated chocolate mixture to egg yolks and then add that mixture back into the saucepan. My mom told me it's to keep the yolks from cooking immediately and becoming boiled. Not having the eggs at that precise moment would be a real issue because you have stir the chocolate mixture constantly once it's on the stove. It's like cream of wheat: the whole batch goes to shit if it sits still for even 10 seconds. Well, it does for me. Lumps will not be tolerated.
I know what you're thinking: back to Schmancy store! But I was in too foul a mood to sully Schmancy store. They deserve me at my best, when I'm glad to be alive and love myself without condition. No, this task called for something baser. The convenience store down the street.
I'd never been to this store before, but figured this was an opportune time to try it out. Any convenience store worth its salt should have some eggs. They might be $10 a carton, but they should have some. I angrily blew out all my candles, clicked off Vicar of Dibley, headed out to my car and drove down to those neon lights.
I walked in, said the customary Friendly-"Hello"-I'm-Not-Going-To-Rob-You-Greeting to the owners, and walked to the first fridge I saw. There they were! Eggs! 5 of them sat in a little tray on a paper towel. I cradled four of them in my hands and set off to find something else to buy since I was going to use a debit card and felt obligated to spend more than a dollar. I located some garbage bags and an air freshener before making my way to the counter. But another fridge caught my eye. It had butter and milk in it and--you guessed it--egg cartons. "Whaaaa? Why are the individual eggs separated from the cartons?" Because the eggs resting in my arms were from the fridge with sandwiches and fruit: they were hard-boiled.
Can you imagine how I would have reacted once I cracked them open at home? I can, and it frightens me.
I gently released the individual eggs back into their tray, and bought the carton of eggs. We were finally ready to get started!
Since the pie filling required constant attention, I decided to make the pie crust first. My mother's pie crust is like no other. It's the best I've ever had. It's flaky and flavorful and made with skim milk and canola oil instead of shortening. Getting it right was of the utmost importance. And with only 4 or 5 calls to my mother, it came out just fine!
As I've previously stated, I'm not awesome at math, so when the recipe said the crust should hang "3/4 to 1 inch over the edge" the above is what I came up with. I love the crust, so I didn't mind extra, but it did mean whenever I took it out of the fridge an avalanche of crust cascaded onto the shelves of my fridge.
The crust was fairly easy, with few opportunities to screw up. The pie filling was a different beast.
I had to chop up a buttload of baker's chocolate, and prepare the steps of the recipe that would need to take place during the Constant Stirring. This included a tablespoon and teaspoon of vanilla (I propped them up on a post-it pad next to the stove), and the egg yolks. I like separating yolks from whites, for whatever reason. Segregation can be fun! But I wasn't paying a lot of attention to the yolks during that process, so when I'd disposed of the whites and looked at the yolks, I freaked out:
"AHHH I'VE BLED INTO MY EGGS! I must have cut myself on one of the shells! Where's the cut, where's the gash? I'll have to separate more yolks! GROSS." When no cut appeared on my hands, I realized the red was part of the bowl's painted flower design. Crisis averted. Aaaaand imaginary.
Anyway, I couldn't take any more photos because of the Constant Stirring, but here's the pie once the filling was poured in and before it went into the fridge to cool:
It was beyond beautiful. And all mine.
I don't know if I'll ever reach that stage of cooking where I think, "Hey, I want other people to enjoy this thing that I slaved over." I'm happy to let my friends enjoy a fruit salad I made, a quesadilla, or even the odd pasta dish. But this pie? I ate the whole thing. And I enjoyed every goddamn bite. I know what you're thinking: now you're going to make it all the time! But no I'm not! It was hardwork, dammit! Cooking is so overrated.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Chelsea for making me so desperate for the pie that it tipped the scales from I Would Never Attempt to Recreate This Masterpiece to I Will Make This Pie If It Kills Me. Another big thank you to my parents who fielded multiple phone calls throughout their Friday evening regarding cornstarch, how many squares of baker's chocolate equals a square (you'd get the confusion if I felt like I should take the time to explain it), forking pie crusts, and the like. A thank you to you if you read this whole post. And finally, a thank you to all the amazing cooks who make me food on a regular basis: you're doing God's work and I take you for granted.