A Prayer for Pies #sol21
November 23, 2021
There are currently two Thanksgiving pies in my fairly new oven. They smell delicious. One is pumpkin pie and the other is pecan pie. Seems pretty straight-forward. I’ve been making pies for forty years, at least. Why am I a little apprehensive?
A few truths about me that weigh into this trepidation…. I rarely use the same recipe twice for… anything. I don’t worry if the recipe is hard or easy, if it takes Madagascar Cinnamon or dark corn syrup or is the one Martha Stewart herself made last Thanksgiving. I say to myself and anyone near the kitchen, let’s do this thing… and then I go for it.
I would love to lie right now and say this aways turns out for me… it definitely does not. However, in the comfort of this moment filled with hope and possibility, I would say that it turns out more often than not. The anticipation of a new triumph, a hoped-for success is incredibly gratifying. Worth every one of the times that the experiment ended up half-eaten or deleted from my data base of recipes.
These particular pies seem to be a larger challenge that usual. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is because I haven’t been challenging my culinary talents lately. Perhaps because I made two different pies simultaneously. Perhaps… it’s my current life climate…
You see this go-for-the-challenge, this-could-be-amazing stance doesn’t reserve itself to my baking. I like to go for the new challenge, let’s-give-this-a-go, why-not choice professionally as well. The obvious benefit, new experiences around every corner. The challenge, not everyone is up to jumping right off the cliff. For me, much like these pies that are starting to smell like success, so many of these challenges have been absolutely amazing.
A few have been near-hits, almost-misses, half-successes, and a few have even been, oh-well-nothing-ventured-nothing-gained. Still I don’t really regret any of the out-on-the-limb experiences I have in my kitchen or in my coaching. It all turns out in the end. We either succeed or… we learn.
The pies, from my Test-Kitchen cookbook, were a challenge, a cooked custard base for both, one requiring a candy thermometer. Double-boiling, constant stirring, seven eggs, it was a few hour commitment. Now I’m waiting. Waiting to see how it all works out. I can still smell the pecans and the spicy pumpkins, I’m hopeful…
The last weeks I’ve been pushing my collaborative teachers to teach with a different recipe. Dig deep into their possibilities and try something out of their regular practice because the students in front of us need all the strategies we can muster. As we move forward, trying more scientific, more challenging, more experimental ‘recipes’ for our work may very well give us results like we have never seen before.
That kind of experiment, that willingness to move past our headlights so to speak, has honestly been a hallmark of my coaching. Many teachers I collaborate with have grown to trust that experimenting. Maybe because they’ve tasted the sweet success of the ideas … and the baking. Definitely it’s because everyone wants the students to succeed.
So I’ve put myself out there with the pies. The timer just went off so we’ll know soon enough.
The pecan looks pretty good. I wish I would have put a few more pecans in the pie, more than it said in the recipe, but it’s a solid pie with a little bit of a wonky crust. Crust is definitely not my specialty. The pumpkin is taking a little longer than expected. It is a little wobbly in the center. That’s the problem with pumpkin pie, if you don’t get the custard just right, it won’t set up.
The good news is that even if it doesn’t work out, I bought enough pumpkin to give it another go. Still I just left it in the oven a little longer. I’ll give it just a little more time.
Again, it makes me think of the new strategies I’m encouraging in our learning community. They might turn out a little different than expected. They might need a little more time. We might tweak the recipe a little the next time.
So I’ll keep trying new recipes or improving the recipes I have. My legacy to my families, school and home, is to not be afraid to try something new. It might just be amazing.