There’s no better pie dough than the recipe coined by my great grandmother, titled “Grandma’s Pie Dough,” in my mom’s box of recipes. This pie dough is used for just about every pie we make in my family, no matter what type. However, there’s way more that this recipe is used for.
My great grandmother grew up in the aftermath of WW2 and during the Great Depression, so money and food were scarce. This led to her learning not to waste anything. She would pick all the cartilage off of her chicken bones, and used her towels until they were falling apart at the seams -- to name a few stories which were often recounted to me and my sister as we grew up. This same sentiment was continued in her cooking. For her pie dough, any extras would be rolled into rectangles, covered in butter and brown sugar, and rolled into spirals. They were then cooked and eaten by my mother and her brother.
This tradition has held strong, with every pie we bake always being followed by a dozen or so pastries made out of the leftovers, referred to in French as les pets de soeurs, or nun farts.
Being resourceful in the kitchen is a nice habit; even though we don’t have to wonder whether we’ll get another meal today, we still try to use everything we can, and refuse to waste anything. It’s something I think I’ll always find admirable about my family, how we can find new uses for things that are no longer needed, or were discarded when they didn’t serve a purpose. That same belief led to my family starting a second hand shop, where we recover things that were put in the trash and put them to new use.
This recipe originated in Quebec, which is something I found interesting, as my great grandmother was an Irish immigrant. I think it makes it more powerful in a way, that the sentiment of never-wasting transcended nationalities.
My dad’s mother makes the same pastry, and her family did too, so I guess I’m trying to emulate all of them, to never waste anything, even though my circumstances are so different from theirs.