Came across this column in the Tacoma News Tribune about
shortcake suppers. She talks about her grandmother
cooking for the farm crew and it struck a cord in me because I grew
up helping my mother put on the big spread for farm workers and
cooking for the hay crew happens at our house too! When I was
growing up my dad had 3-4 good farm friends he swapped labor with
for things like haying and chopping silage. Each farmer had a
couple pieces of machinery (tractors, mowers, wagons, forage
harvesters) and they would share machinery and help each other at
crucial times of the year. The really cool thing is that each
farmer did slightly different things – one was a dairy farmer –
another raised beef cattle – so their busy times were not at the
As my Dad and the other farmers traveled from place to place
doing the big, shared work projects like haying and silage, the
wives would always put on the big spread for lunch. In the
70s there wasn’t many arenas where women competed – except in the
kitchen. Title IX was a few years away and most women were
relegated to pink collar jobs. But, in the domestic domain it
was full-contact homemaking! Just like the Amish women at
barn-raising events, the tables would be groaning under the weight
of baked goods and breads, mashed potatoes, gravy, roast beef…and
dessert! Cobblers, cakes, and PIES!
Now, my Dad was a bit of a joker and he liked to egg people on.
So, when they were having lunch at Charlie’s and Marion was
feeding them he would say things like, “Well, you know, at Hank’s
last week we had apple and lemon meringue pie!”
Sure enough, the next day Marion would produce, apple, lemon
meringue AND cherry (with ice cream!) It is a wonder they
ever got any work done given the amount they ate, but they were
also doing hard physical labor and could justify the big meals.
At our house we typically feed the helpers who work with us on
hay deliveries. Sometimes we have 3-4 of them on busy days so
dinner is a big, sit down affair. On Saturday we do a big
farm breakfast for everyone who shows up by 8:30 in the morning.
Last week we had eggs, sausage gravy, fried potatoes, toast
and jam. I do this as a carry-over from the tradition when I
was growing up. And the crew is always grateful which
provides a reward for the work of cooking for them. While I
don’t have other farm wives to contend with in a contest of
pie-baking skills I need to be careful because occasionally a mom
will ask “So, what did you feed them this week?” in a
my-kid-seems-to-like-your-cooking-a-bit-too-much tone of voice.
But the fact remains, I like to cook for an appreciative
audience. The other night we had one of our former helpers
who was home to visit family for the 4th call and say that he was
coming over to help us for a couple hours for old time’s sake and
the last thing he told my husband was “….and I will stay for
supper!” Game on!
Dinner tonight was amazing – not just because it was ALL from
here – but because the flavors were so bright and the food was so
fresh! It was nothing special or fancy – hamburgers, new
potatoes with butter, green salad, cucumbers in a bit of white
vinegar and grilled zucchini. It is always challenging to
decide what vegetable with dinner during the winter – but during
the summer the challenge is deciding which veggie to leave
out! I suppose that is what I love MOST about
The raspberry harvest is winding down. Tonight I am making
a raspberry – yogurt tart from a recipe I found in the “Baking
with Julia (Child)” cookbook that I picked up at the St.
Vincent de Paul a couple of weeks ago. Don’t worry
– I am not launching into a Julie and Julia thing – but the
woman (Julia that is!) was a marvel and we should all be very
grateful that she found her muse in food! The biggest
problem with the success of the movie is that now I
will NEVER be able to find her classic book at the thrift
This recipe would be good with any type of berry – and Julia
offers that it could also be baked without the berries and served
with the berries sprinkled on top. I am beginning to think
that would be a better choice because there is so much moisture in
the berries that the pie took forever to bake and the center was
rather damp and gooey.
Raspberry Yogurt Tart
- 1 – 9′ pie crust
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups plain yogurt (I used greek style that I made the other
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup sifted flour
- 1 1/2 cup raspberries (blackberries, cherries,
strawberrries…you get the idea!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake pie crust until slightly
Meanwhile – beat eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
Add yoghurt and vanilla and stir until blended. Fold in
flour, pour into pie shell, top with berries and turn oven down to
325 degrees. Bake about 1 hour or until the center of the pie
Cool before serving
I haven’t been doing much
baking this summer but was inspired by my friend Margo and her
“52 Weeks of Pies”
project. If she can make pies EVERY week the least that
I can do is make ONE pie. One thing that makes pies
quick and easy for me is that I make up a large batch of pie crust
mix and put it in a ziplock and toss it in the freezer. When
I need to put out a pie I just dump a couple cups in
a bowl, add ice water until it comes together, roll it out and
put the filling in. My pie crust mix is my mom’s recipe and
is really simple, but rather old-fashioned.
Trudy’s Pie Crust
- 1 box SoftasSilk Cake Flour
- 1 # lard
- 1 Tbsp salt
Blend lard into flour and salt until it resembles corn meal and
the fat is the size of small peas. Will keep for several
months in the freezer. To make a 9″ pie crust use 2 cups of
mix and add ice water 2-3 Tbsp at a time until it comes
together. I mix it with a fork until it forms a ball.
Roll out on a floured board. Do not overwork the dough!
For me this is a never-fail recipe for flakey, tender crust.
I have tried butter crusts with limited success. But I
usually don’t tell people it is made with lard – when you
confess to folks that the reason your pie crust is so flakey is
because you use lard they look at you like you are also making
your own shoes!