10 July, 2014
Strawberry Pecan Pie for Canada Day
‘Shokale taratari deke dish’, ‘Wake me up early’, Mum reminded me. It was her oath taking ceremony next morning.
As she tied her hair and changed her sari, I couldn’t help but notice how much she had aged. Walking very slowly supporting herself on the walking stick she asked for help in putting the maple leaf broach that she had carefully stored in her butterfly shaped jewellery box. As we waited in the judge’s chamber I noticed she sat quietly rubbing the thumb and the first finger of her right hand, something she did whenever she was nervous.
I felt I could see what was going through her mind like the pictures in a kaleidoscope. Sharing laughter with friends, tending to her garden, instructing the household helps in their daily chores she had lived all her life in India. So many memories, so many emotions were crisscrossing her mind just like the creases on her face. Very soon she will not call India her home. A new country where she does not have any friends, a country where snow covers the ground for months together will be her new home. An arrangement that was made to enable her to stay close to her children, at the time of her life when she is more like the child than a mother.
We had gone over a few times the formalities that would occur in the judge’s chamber. No exams for her, just pledging, ‘O Canada, our home and native land ……we stand on guard for thee….’. Are you alright ma? I asked nudging her. She said nothing. ‘Aami kintu India keo onek bhalobashi’, there, she let it out. ‘I still love India a lot’. Her gnarly fingers gave out what her tongue couldn’t for the longest time.
I then realized what was bothering her. Erasing the feelings for the land of one’s birth was not a prerequisite to becoming a good citizen I reassured her.
Oh she said, like Lord Krishna, Devaki was his mother by birth and Yashoda was the mother who brought him up. That’s right Ma, I chimed in. India was your country of birth and Canada will now be your new Motherland just like Yashoda. Her face lit up. I noticed she put her right hand on the left side of her chest as she sang ” O Canada”…
I haven’t baked a lot of pies. The latest “Taste of Home” magazine had a Stars and Stripes Pie recipe that inspired me to try a Canadian version of the same. I retained the recipe with some alterations.
I have to admit this is my second try. It tasted pretty good, I have learnt the “(Secret) Life of Pie” the hard way.
For the Pastry,
All purpose flour Two and half cups
Salt Half tsp
Cold unsalted butter, cubed One cup
Ice water Six to ten Tbsp
Fresh Strawberries roughly chopped Five cups
Lemon juice Two tsp
Sugar divided One cup plus one tsp
All purpose flour One third cup
Ground cinnamon One and one fourth tsp, divided
Two percent milk One Tbsp
Mint leaves chopped Half tsp
Chopped pecan nuts Half cup
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Divide dough in two pieces. Shape each into a disk; wrap in a plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For filling, place strawberries in a large bowl; drizzle with lemon juice and mint leaves. In a small bowl, mix one cup sugar, flour and one tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over strawberries and toss gently to coat. Add the nuts.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of dough to a one eighth inch thick circle, transfer to a nine inch pie plate. Trim pastry even with rim. Add prepared filling.
Roll the remaining dough to a one eighth thick circle. Place top pastry over filling. Trim, seal and flute edge. Use a maple leaf cookie cutter and cut out the shape on the top pastry. From the left over dough cut out two rectangles about one and quarter inch to one eighth inch and place them on either side of the maple leaf cutout. Press to stick.
Bake forty minutes. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon. Brush top of pie with milk; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake fifteen to twenty minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
Do not knead at all when mixing the dough together. The first one I did turned out very tough.