I have made two pie crusts that were perfect. The first time was perhaps 15 years ago, when I was feeling adventurous and reckless. Uhhh.... make that 20 years ago.
A friend had raised a couple of pigs. We bought one and they hauled the pigs to the meat processor and a week or so later we picked up the wrapped meat and brought it home. Including the head and all of the fat.
At that time Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living”was my go-to source for learning how to live in the country. The book was incredibly useful for learning how to do country stuff. I followed her instructions for making head cheese. It was quite good. And then I rendered the fat, which I was going to use to make soap, also following her directions.
By then we had already made the decision to stop using shortening to cook with, and so any pie crust I made was either with oil--which was usually a disaster--or I just bought it pre-made from the store; of course, these pie shells were made with hydrogenated vegetable oil, but at least I didn’t have to keep a can of the nasty stuff around the house.
After a couple of days of bubbling fat in the pots, I had all of this creamy white lard and Thanksgiving was approaching and it was time to make the annual pie, and I thought, oh what the heck, it’s not going to kill us....
So I used a glop of the homemade lard to make the pie. I was stunned a how wonderful that crust was. But, I never used lard or shortening again.... until yesterday. We weren’t going to have pie at all – just “pumpkin custard” but then at the last minute we changed our minds and so I used some of the lard I had bought to make suet cakes for the birds.
And so the second time one of my homemade pie crusts came out perfect. The temptation to use the lard the next time a pie is requested is overwhelming. It is probably a good thing we don’t have pie very often.
The soap was not entirely successful, by the way. Although I tried hard to follow the directions, I failed to do something right, and some of the cakes of soap retained bubbles of liquid lye, which caused some excitement during a shower.