Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baking mishaps with Robyn DeHart


Normally I'm the baker in the family when it comes to holiday feasts. Several years ago my husband and I flew back to Texas for Christmas and we got in late. I had sent my mom the shopping list for the ingredients I need and she assured me that she’d purchased everything necessary for pumpkin pie and pecan pie. So it’s Christmas day, mid-morning, and I’m all set to make my pies. I go to the fridge and the crusts she has have expired. Um…there’s nothing but Walgreens open on Christmas day and they don’t sell pie crusts. I can make them from scratch, but you need shortening for that and well, we didn’t have any of that either. So I opted for graham cracker crusts – not standard at our house for pies, but hey, I can improvise.

With the pumpkin pies done, I began on the pecan pie. Measure the Karo syrup, melt the butter, pour in the butter, look at the recipe again. OHMYGOSH! That was supposed to be 1 cup of sugar, NOT one cup of butter – I only needed 3 tablespoons of butter. Panic, scoop out as much butter as possible and figure hey, this is how great recipes are created. And it’s butter, how bad could that be? So I add the rest of the ingredients, then pour it into the chilled graham cracker crust, only this 9 inch pie plate is either mislabeled or something else because the pie overflows all over the table. So I salvage most of the pie and pour it back into the mixing bowl and try to recreate the crust in a larger pie plate. At this point, it’s just become hysterical and I’m convinced this is going to be the worst pecan pie in history, but I persevere cause that’s what I do.

So the pie is successfully in the reconstructed crust and I throw it in the over. It didn’t much look like pecan pie and it had a rather sticky consistency, but according to my family it was the best pecan pie they’d ever had – although being the smart alecks that they are, they referred to it as the butter pie. I can’t imagine that I can recreate this recipe, but perhaps I’ll give it a try someday.

But as I reflected on this amusing and frustrating experience, I saw the glaring parallel to my writing process. I read something recently where one famous author said that a writer learns to write a book by writing it. To which another author replied that unfortunately writing that book doesn’t prepare you to write the next book. So the fact that I’ve made a million pies didn’t necessarily mean that I could successfully bake another one. Consequently, just because I’ve written books before doesn’t mean that I know what I’m doing when I start on the next book. I generally make one blunder after another while I write my first draft, but at the end of my frustrating and (somewhat) amusing process I end up with a book that hopefully readers will connect with.

So how about you? Ever made a big cooking blunder? Did it come out okay or did you make a big stinky mess?

Happy Thanksgiving and be sure you enter my huge holiday contest.

6 comments:

deedavis@nyc.rr.com said...

my very first Thanksgiving as a newlywed almost everything that could go wrong...did. Including pie crust made with too much shortening. It literally dripped off onto the over floor. It was disaster at the time, but humorous twenty years down the line.

Annie Solomon said...

First--THANK YOU for rescusing blog readers from the boredom of my face and words!!! Second, great story, Robyn. And I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who stumbles around that first draft convinced that no matter how many books I've written, I'll never get this one right, or get it done at all. And even if I do, this is the one that will kill my career. Or
me. Whichever comes first.

Robyn DeHart said...

Dee, I seem to remember something on your website a long time ago about a ham in Paris or something. I'm probably remembering that totally wrong, but I do know it was a funny story!

Annie, isn't it amazing how new books always make you feel like a hack? I feel like so much of my life I'm fumbling around in the dark, but eventually someone turns the lights on and I figure things out. :)

RachieG said...

I'm trying a Paula Deen butter cake this year for Thanksgiving..it's going to be my contribution. We'll see how it goes....lots of weird instructions but I have faith..and it's oh so tasty! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Diana Holquist said...

Butter! Yum! It's true you can't have enough. I wonder what the equivalent in romance novel is. Love scenes? Breakups? Make ups? Or maybe, every writer has her own butter....

Must go back to overmixing my manuscript...

sanjeet said...

It was disaster at the time, but humorous twenty years down the line.

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