Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snow on the Mountain

I'm making soup tonight. Soup Dinner soup. Our little co-op preschool has had a Soup Dinner for the kids and families every year for the past 25 or so years. Since all 4 of my kids have attended this preschool we have enjoyed quite a few Soup Dinner nights. The preschoolers cut the veggies for the soup and help get it in the pot and they decorate paper place mats for their family members, then that evening the soup, with its awkwardly butchered vegetables, is enjoyed by all.

Well, Sis remembered that this year, since we're fresh out of preschoolers, we aren't going to Soup Dinner. So she used the "Mommy" on me (see previous post) and today I'm making the Soup Dinner soup. I'm a little frustrated by the recipe as I am to add 1 can of tomato juice, 1 can of water, and 1 can of stewed tomatoes. No sizes. I'm guessing maybe 25+ years ago tomato products only came in one size?

Well I decided I would put in a big can of tomato juice because that seems to be the most common size, then I went to stewed tomatoes, and they seem to come in one size, but of course it's a different size than the juice. What about the water? Do I now use the big can or the little can? I chose the little one figuring I could always add more. This is not the first time I've made the soup, but it's been so long that I don't remember what I've done in years past. Today I'm going to make notes on the recipe--providing I don't completely mess it up.

This all reminds me of my family pastie recipe. That's PAST-EE, not PASTE-EE. Pasties (past-ees) are a Cornish meat and potato pie, pasties (paste-ees) are nipple covers. It's important to note the difference. Especially if you're having guests for dinner.

The recipe I have for pasties has been handed down on my dad's side of the family. His mom's family was Cornish miners who would take these pastry covered meat pies into the mines with them for lunch. Legend goes that the men would tuck their fresh from the oven pasties into their shirts on their way to work in the morning to keep themselves warm. Traditionally the pasties were made individually in a half-circle shape, but later they were made in a rectangular dish and called pastie pie which is an easier and faster way to make them, and works just as well unless you're in the habit of shoving it into your clothing.

I've been attempting to make pasties for years now. My mom was an expert at it. She took lessons from my dad's mother and grandmother, plus she had good cooking skills to begin with. My mom gave me the written recipe and I took lessons from her, but I still struggle with my pasties.

As with the soup recipe the pastie recipe is also a bit vague. I can handle grating the potatoes and carrots but here's a sample of when it gets a bit more difficult, "Cut meat and pile into a heap. Sprinkle the heap with pepper, and then enough salt so that it looks like a mountain with snow on top. Ok, I live in snow country, so I know what a mountain with snow on it looks like, but the first time I made pasties by myself they turned out so salty we couldn't even eat them. Apparently I was thinking more of a winter blizzard and the recipe was implying more of a spring flurry.

At least on my pastie recipe I make notes each time so that I learn from my weather interpreting mistakes. Even with my sorry pastie making skills (I won't even go into the challenge of making the pastry) they still turn out pretty darned delicious. Let's hope the soup fares as well tonight!

1 comment:

Sue said...

I am such a horrible cook even WITH an exacting and specific recipe. I can't imagine trying to wing it or just figure it out. The results would be SO INEDIBLE. Really. Ask my husband.