Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Should we always make our own pie crust?

I have been putting off posting this vegetable tart recipe I made a long time ago, simply because it's such a long recipe due to the number of ingredients in it. But the recipe itself is really not that complicated, and the result was fantastic. However, before I tell you about the recipe, I think we should have a little discussion about the making of pie crust.
I have always tried to make my own pie crust; in fact, I have never bought a pie crust from the store. I insist on staying true to my cooking ethnics and making everything from scratch if possible. Nonetheless, pie crust, like any other pastry, requires meticulous work and precise measurement, none of which I can pride myself on. Therefore, I brag about my making my own pie crust, but I never say it's really really good. But I try, you see, and that counts.
Why do we admire so much people who make their own pie crust? Is it just because we think we can't do it? No, everyone can make a pie crust. It's because we admire their commitment to the craft of cooking, I believe. Back in the time when ready-made pie crust was not available at grocery stores, endearing mothers and grandmothers made their own pie crusts; sometimes it almost feels like we are losing the tradition when our hands reach out to the frozen pie crust in the gigantic freezer in the store.
Are we losing the tradition?
I ask myself the very question when my hands touched my new kindle. I had been debating about whether I should get one or not, and my strong commitment to the texture of paper and the smell of ink had been keeping me away from this new fruit of modern technology. But I finally broke down and asked for it for Christmas, while my books were screaming at me calling me a traitor.
For the record, I did not touch the electronic monster since I opened the box on Christmas morning. But I have been feeding free and bargain books into it. When Amazon allowed me to borrow the kindle version of The Hunger Games for free, I finally started using it. And I have a confession: so far, I have loved every single second of it, and there's no problem of reading, if anything, it saved the time of page-turning and saves a lot of space. Am I losing the tradition?
Everytime my finger swiftly touched the right lower corner of the screen to flip a page I felt an incredible sense of anticipation, and it cost so much less energy than flipping a paper page: my laziness got the upper hand you see. I threw a glance at my bookshelf after I closed my kindle one night; I could barely smell their unique scent, and a slight feeling of guilt passed in my heart before I closed my eyes.
After I finished The Hunger Games, I put down my kindle to another hibernation and returned to my paperbacks, yet I knew that was not just because I missed them so much but because most of the books I wanted and needed to read were still in paperbacks. Guilt strike number two. Once I resumed the touch of the thin paper, I began to feel extremely calm, and the rush and excitement that kindle brought was vanished as if a husband returning to his endearing and considerate wife after a flashlike affair with a naughty mistress.
I know some tradition would never be lost.

Roasted Vegetable Tart (from Bon App├ętit Jan 2012 issue)

The recipe is intimidatingly long, so I spared you the reading on my blog after going through my own long post. I do want to admit that I had two ovens working at the same time to roast the vegetables and lost track of time and temperature(Damn the Harter double ovens!!!), so I almost burned the pastry. I also believed any vegetable can be used so I used asparagus and broccoli that are not in the recipe, so my tart was very thick. One last confession: due to the lack of spices in the Harter household, I ended up omitting the fennel bulb and fresh thyme leaves, for which reason I vow to make this again in the future with much more precision.
But it was delicious after all!!