So, this is either the last of the “Linda’s Out-of-Town” posts or the first of the Friday “Cooking Calamities” posts. Like I’ve been saying all week (prescheduled, of course, and yes, with a bit of cut-and-paste involved), we had so much fun with “Best Failed Recipe Ever!” that I invited anyone who’d be interested to send me their worst cooking calamities. After this week, I’ll post a new culinary disaster every Friday for as long as they last–and if you’d like to contribute, for fun or as a promo op, write me and let me know. (My email address is on my Triple Edge Critique Service page. Put “Cooking Calamities” in the subject line.)
Author Kathleen L. Maher is my guest today, and she’s doing something special: She’s offering a free e-copy of her novella, Bachelor Buttons (Volume 3 of Murray Pura’s American Civil War series, Cry of Freedom)! Be sure to leave a response to win!
Epic Cooking Disaster
(or, Can Green Tomato Pie Cause Shingles?)
Linda, thank you for opening Pandora’s box and letting me and my story out. We will be brief and promise to pick up the mess we leave when we are done destroying your readers’ faith in my cooking ability.
That said, sit down and let me serve you a cup of coffee as I tell my tale. Who would like a slice of green tomato pie? (My daughter is screaming in the background “NOOO, don’t do it!”)
My mother loves telling stories of her youth. She grew up in Yonkers, NY, a growing city when she was a girl, and now a veritable part of the urban sprawl from New York City. She fondly recalls her trips upstate to Red Hook, NY to see her country cousins. One of those stories involves how the resourceful Mamie—a culinary wonder—made a delicious pie from her abundant green garden tomatoes. Being a fried green tomato aficionado, I just had to try to make green tomato pie for myself. So I looked up recipes in search of one that looked promising. Lo and behold, my dear husband happened upon a Paula Deen cooking show where she was preparing this very dish! Lucky day!
I watched with rapt and delighted attention as she sliced her beautiful chartreuse tomatoes ever-so-lovingly into the folds of her hand-made pie crust, and hurried out to my burgeoning garden to select the best plump, inch-worm green tomatoes for my own masterpiece.
I decided to skip the raisins, since I am not a big fan of raisins in pies. My mouth watered inhaling the aroma of spices and golden crust as it baked in the oven, and I daydreamed of the many exaltations and jubilations of my grateful family.
At last it was done, and it looked amazing—one of the best looking pies I had ever created. My mother promised me her cousins’ tasted as good as the apple pies we traditionally bake and adore at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I quivered with anticipation as I lifted the first slice, dutifully giving it to my mother as a tithe paid in homage to my forebears.
The second slice went to my dear and ever supportive husband. It scarcely touched his lips when a look somewhere south of euphoria graced his noble features. It took me a moment to grasp the distress in his twitching eye. In retrospect, he describes the experience like this: “It tasted like green slimy jello and candied tomatoes melted in a pie crust.”
In disbelief, I touched the fork to my tongue and cringed. It was warm, and as I bit into it, my entire being slipped into a realm of spicy and tangy, bold but in a very unpleasant way. What had gone wrong? I followed the recipe to the letter, except for the raisins. My husband’s complexion started to turn puce. I encouraged him to lie down.
According to the medical professionals, shingles is caused by the dormant chicken pox virus. It lurks in unsuspecting folk biding its time to sink its tines into flesh and raise its ugly, rashed head, causing debilitating pain. It is no laughing matter to its sufferers. It is said to be activated by seasons of stress or moments of extreme duress, wherein its host is weakened and susceptible to the virus’ inundating attack. According to John, the nerve-searing pain of shingles “is like lying on a hammock made of woven barbed wire.”
Whether or not my green tomato pie caused my husband such trauma that he succumbed to his shingles outbreak the next day is a topic best left to the experts, but as sure as God made unripe tomatoes green, he was laid out for two weeks with a vicious case. And to this day my family contends it was my cooking that did it to him.
What did my mother think of my pie? I am glad you asked. She ate her whole slice without complaint. But then, we suspect she might be silently slipping into blissful senility.
Here’s the recipe I tried:
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins
5 green tomatoes, or enough to fill pie crust, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Mix sugar, tapioca, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins in a large bowl. Lay tomato slices in pie crust. Sprinkle mixture over tomatoes. (Overlapping will occur but tomatoes will shrink in size when baked.) Gently lay top pie crust over filling, tucking in the extra crust around the edges. Pinch dough with fingers or butter knife to seal edges. Using a knife, make 4 to 6 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar to give your crust a shine.
Place pie in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 20 more minutes. Cool on wire rack.
*Cook’s Note: If your pie looks ready to “spew out,” open oven door for about 2 minutes.
Read more at The Food Network.
Please leave me a comment, especially if you have a better recipe for me to try. As thanks, I am offering a copy of my novella, based on my Irish ancestors, to one lucky reader.
Kathleen L. Maher’s novella Bachelor Buttons released May 1 as part of a Civil War sesquicentennial collection by Helping Hands Press. She won the 2012 ACFW Genesis contest, and finaled in several others since 2009. Represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency, Kathleen blogs about New York State history. She and her husband live in a 100-year-old farmhouse in upstate NY with their three children, two Newfoundland dogs and a tuxedo cat. Her blog http://kathleenlmaher.blogspot.com features upstate NY history and CBA book reviews.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for an e-copy of her novella, Bachelor Buttons!