Monday, November 17, 2008

A Labor of Love (or What Was in That Pitcher, Anyway?)

If you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan (and maybe some other Midwestern states), you know what pasties are. You also know that when it comes to baking, they are not to be confused with other kinds of pasties (for blogs of a racier type!) For the rest of you folks, pasties are otherwise known as meat pies, and their roots come from across the ocean the Cornish (Where did these people come from, anyway?) They were a staple of miners back in the day; a pasty was the perfect meal to take down into the mines for later lunches.

When I married Mr.4444, I learned that one pasty is not as good as another; a truly good pasty starts with amazing, flaky crust and (in our house) contains beef, potatoes, rutabagas, and onions. I soon learned that Mr.4444's mom, Pat, knew her way around a pasty. Hers were the best I'd tasted, and because she only made them once per year (or less), they were a real treat. All the 4444 men begged for pasties, and I admired the pasty power Pat wielded around that house. However, since I'd heard they were a lot of work, I was pretty content to let her be the Pasty Goddess in the 4444 family. Over time, though, she made them less and less often; and being the good wife that I am, I decided to have a go at making pasties.

When I asked Pat if she could give me the recipe, she told me that she really didn't have one; she just "kind of put them together." Lucky for me, she finally consented to making them and letting me watch her. One winter Saturday, we started early and spent the entire day making pasties. Neurotically addicted to following recipes, I wrote down every single thing she did and forced her to let me measure each ingredient before she put it in (She was a great sport!) As a result, you are reading the blog of the new 4444 Family Pasty Goddess. That's right; Pat no longer makes pasties (probably hasn't for 15 years or more). She was thrilled to pass the crown on to me.

My pasties, even from the first batch, were great. Bob, Mr.4444's dad confirmed that they were every bit as good and better than his wife's (shhh!), and that meant a lot.

To make pasties, you need to have a lot of time, patience, and diligence. This afternoon, I decided that with nothing on the calendar, I should make some. Mr.4444 always helps me, and he consented (it beats cleaning the basement), so I went to the store, while he took a power-nap. (Hey, chopping pasty stuff takes a lot of energy, you know!)

For the blow-by-blow details, goofy commentary, and a pic of how I use my own body fat to cook, continue this post here...

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