When the pie hits the floor…the occupational hazards of cookbook reviewers

I am testing pies this week.  (Yes, I know, poor me.  Taking one for the team again.)  Today was key lime tart and strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie.

All day I made dough and fillings.  The tart dough and filling for the key lime came together in an instant, with enough leftovers to make a second small tart–luckily, as it turned out.

The strawberry-rhubarb pie, on the other hand, was a multi-hour affair.  First the pie dough.  Then the fruit filling.  Then the crumble.  Then the lattice.  In the end, I used a pound of butter, 4 and 1/2 cups of flour, and more sugar than I care to recall.  All this in a 9″ pie pan.  When I slid the heavy, elaborate confection into the oven, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  “That’s the hard part done,” I thought.  “Smooth sailing from here!”

50 minutes later, things were looking golden-brown and luscious.  It was time to remove the pie to the cooling rack.  To pick up the pie pan I grabbed a spatula in one hand and a dish cloth in the other.  Couldn’t find the long spatula, so I took the short one.  I’ve done it a million times, and the cooling rack was two feet away.  No problem!

“Wouldn’t it be horrible,” I thought with amusement, “if the pie fell while traveling those two feet?  But honestly, what are the odds…?”

Slowly I turned, the pie balanced between the dish cloth and the spatula.  I lowered it toward the rack.  The spatula wobbled.  “If the pie fell,”  I observed, “it would start just like that.  Not that it will!”

I steadied the spatula.  I thought I did, anyway.  In slow motion, the pie balanced, and overbalanced.  Balanced, and overbalanced.  Paralyzed, I watched as it slid off the far end of the spatula.  I had time to think, “Maybe it will land pan side down…”

United States of Pie

It did not.

Pie-mageddon!. . . pie-pocalypse!!  I shrieked once and stood there, frozen above an 8-foot zone of strawberry-rhubarb pectinaceous destruction.   A long moment passed, and then Husby came to my rescue with the bench scraper and the compost bin.  10 minutes later, the 4-hour, 4-pound pie was food for crows.  Even the Titanic did not founder more decisively than this.

I think you know the rest of the story.Later that evening, we ate the key lime tarts with our friends, and they were very fine indeed.  Afterwards, we played a couple rounds of Jenga.  On my last turn, I gently eased a block out and placed it on top of the tower.  “It’s wobbly,”  I thought, “but no biggie, it’ll hold…”

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