Thursday, January 12, 2012

A TRIBUTE TO THE POT PIE



When I think about comfort food, the first thing that comes to mind is pot pie.  I have loved pot pies ever since the days when my mother would serve us classic Banquet pot pies, baked to perfection in their little aluminum foil pans.  She would always buy an assortment - chicken, turkey, and beef - in my mind, the chicken was the best, with turkey running a close second.  I loved the crust, and on those occasions when she would skimp and buy the pot pies that only had the top crust, I was heartily disappointed.   I had a certain way of eating the pot pie:  I would wait until it was cool enough to touch, then I would quickly flip it upside down on my plate, trying to remove the entire pie from the pan without breaking the crust.  Then I would carefully break into the bottom crust (that was now on top) and watch the gravy ooze out before I would begin to eat it, always making sure to have a little bit of crust and a little bit of gravy in each mouthful.  It did not matter to me that there weren't many vegetables in the pie (heavens, no!), or that the pieces of meat were practically microscopic.  To me, the whole story was the savory goodness of the gravy and the crust.

It wasn't until this year, however, that I actually tried to make a pot pie myself.  (I don't know why I never tried it sooner, but I will admit that laziness played a part.)  I had bought a turkey much larger than usual for Thanksgiving this year, and I had quite a bit of turkey left over, so  my thoughts naturally turned to possible uses for leftover turkey.  I considered turkey soup, but when I spied a recipe online for turkey pot pie, I knew immediately what I must do. I finally got around to making it a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving.  The picture above shows the result, and I am here to testify that it was every bit as good as it looks.  No, I did not make the pastry crusts myself - I am perfectly satisfied with the store bought variety.  I had saved some of the turkey broth also, which made a fine gravy. (Here is the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/turkey-pot-pie/)  I have made a vow to myself to continue this tradition.  Yes, I know that pot pies are BAD FOR ME.  But there are times in life when I just want to revert back to those comforting days when I had a Mom who would cook food for me, even if it just meant throwing something in the oven.  And for times like those, there's nothing that satisfies quite like a pot pie.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

people who take care of their things

Last night we spent New Year's Eve with some people who take care of their things.  They are a childless couple who work with my husband.  I don't know them very well, but am getting to know them a little better, and this is how I have chosen to think of them.  Their kitchen and bathroom are gleaming, immaculate expanses of marble, tile, and polished wood.  Their yard is a wonderland of perfectly coordinated and well trimmed woodland paths.  Their dogs are fluffy, clean smelling and well behaved.  I felt a bit glum as I thought back to my own cluttered house, remembering the Christmas mess that still lingers, the dirty floors, the dusty surfaces, the smelly dogs, and my old cat who pees wherever he damn well pleases (it's his version of wearing purple).

I remember an incident that happened when I was a young child.  I had a baby doll that I cared nothing for.  I carried her by her hair, what little of it remained, and her naked little vinyl body bore the scars of neglect - scratches and scuff marks from being stepped on, rolled over by the rocking chair, or ridden over on a trike.  One day the little girl next door asked if she could have her.  Sure, I said.  Take her.  The next day my friend showed up with my old doll in a new baby bed made from a shoe box, with a piece flannel carefully folded to make a mattress.  She carefully lifted baby from the bed and cradled her in her arms.  Baby was dressed in clothes for a change.  Her hair was combed.  Her body was clean.  Suddenly I felt a pang of regret.  How could I have given up something that was so precious?  I remember running home to my mom nearly in tears, and asking her how I could go about getting baby back, and I think my mom gave a stern rebuke accompanied by that old platitude about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence (I wasn't sure how that applied in this case, but I did realize that if I were to get it back I would have to employ my own devices).  I don't remember how it all turned out.  In all likelihood I either bullied the girl into giving it back to me or traded her something truly worthless for it.  In either case, I think I did get the doll back somehow, and soon she was relegated once again to the heap of neglected toys.  Because the truth of the matter is, baby dolls never interested me that much.  What I envied was the happiness and contentment that other little girls derived from them. 

I bring this story up because it reminds me very much of how I react when I enter the homes of folks who truly love them and maintain them perfectly.  I always feel envious.  I do not necessarily wish that I owned the house or the furnishings.  I just wish I had a clean, neat, lovely house where everything was new and everything worked properly and everything was spic and span.  I'm no longer five years old, so these feelings of envy do not usually last very long.  Because I realize that I have exactly the house that I can tolerate.  When things get so bad that even I can't tolerate them, I generally do something about it.  I realize that what I truly dislike is the drudgery of keeping a house neat and clean and working properly.  And I also realize that although in theory I would enjoy having a beautiful home and yard, it would not bring me the same happiness and contentment that others derive from it.

Last night as I drifted off to sleep with my cat purring contentedly by my side, I looked around at our bedroom -- shoes littering the floor, a laundry basket of unfolded clothes perched on a stool, clutter on the dresser and the nightstand -- and sighed.  I guess I will be cleaning the house on Monday.  But I'm not going to beat myself up too much if I get distracted and decide to do something more interesting instead.