who said pie

For more than half of my life, Thanksgiving started on the Tuesday before.  Everyone in my immediate family (and sometimes not-so-immediate) would gather at “The Plant,” in Inglewood (my dad’s baking headquarters), and help box and deliver pies to the dozen or so outlets of Grace Pastries, for pick up on what is the retail food industries’ “Black Wednesday.”

Every Thanksgiving week, Grace Pastries produced thousands of pies – pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, pecan, mince, and custard.  And every Thanksgiving morning, the family would travel over the river and through the woods (more like over to Highway 99 and through the Grapevine) to grandmother’s, auntie’s, or uncle’s house for the annual family reunion. Through those years, the number of  family members gathering in Fowler, Selma, or Fresno has held steady at about 30 to 40 (give or take 10), thanks to siblings and cousins and their kids along with a gaggle of significant others.  One thing that has changed are the pies.  Gone are the Grace Pastries desserts, and in its place are grocery store bought, fresh or frozen pies.  I can only imagine that my dad set such a high standard, everyone knows they can’t compete to what used to be.  But for the past six or seven years or so, I’ve tried.  And tried.  And tried.  While I know I am in a completely different league, I almost feel the need to carry on a tradition of bringing a non-store bought pie. My contribution every year has been a chocolate pecan pie.  This year, I switched up the recipe a bit and made a lard based crust (because we all know lard makes the best crust), omitted the bourbon (because, well, I forgot to buy some), used organic nuts and chocolate, and a little less corn syrup.  Hoping it’s all for the best.

Now, on my way to Fresno via Amtrak, two homemade chocolate pecan pies boxed and tucked underneath my seat, I am ready for my 40+ Thanksgiving in Central California.   But not before I made sure the day started out right by making slow cooked (10 minutes) scrambled eggs, a dollop of creme fraiche, a dash of white pepper, cooked in a pat of duck fat (thanks, Howard!) and sprinkled with black truffled salt.  So far,  so good.  Tomorrow morning, hopefully, will be the second thing I look forward to every Thanksgiving weekend when I’m in Fresno – breakfast at George’s.

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