Food & Drink

The $5 Tool I Inherited from My Grandma and Use Every Time I Make Pie

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My grandma collected pie birds for years. I by no means, not as soon as, noticed her make a pie and even eat a bit of pie, however her pie chicken assortment spanned total cupboards and mantels. She particularly favored vintage pie birds, so each time anybody in my household (and my mother has 14 siblings) went to a flea market, we’d search for pie birds. She had pie birds of all shapes — and a few that weren’t “birds” in any respect: cooks, elephants, owls, policemen, and mushrooms.

In case you want me to again up a little bit: Pie birds are hole little sculptures and are used when making two-crust pies. They’re positioned within the heart of the pie, and are supposed to poke by way of the highest crust, performing as a steam vent that forestalls pie filling from effervescent over. You don’t even must take away them when serving; they’re ornamental and you’ll simply slice round them.

Pie funnels had been invented in Nineteenth-century Victorian England when, in accordance with Taste, ovens had been incapable of mild, constant warmth, inflicting pie fillings to blowout. The precise chicken form and “pie chicken” identify solely took place within the Nineteen Thirties when an Australian potter patented a pie funnel within the form of a black chicken. I think about individuals thought, “Nicely, that is a lot cuter.”

These days, you don’t see many individuals utilizing pie birds. (You may thank correct, fashionable ovens for that!) However they’re out there in classic marketplaces like eBay and Etsy; Le Creuset even sells a cute one, and Amazon has some others out there as effectively, together with one formed like a peach.

However, it at all times struck me as humorous that my grandma clung to her pie birds — one thing so obscure and, like I stated, she by no means really made any pies with them. I believed, possibly, as a result of she was born within the late Twenties, maybe they reminded her of her childhood.

I haven’t had the possibility to ask her. As a result of whereas she nonetheless is alive, we don’t discuss a lot. She lives 9 hours away and lives in a nursing dwelling now. She’s additionally in her 90s, with a frayed reminiscence that causes her to overlook individuals’s names and faces, the day, and even what she simply ate. However, if I’m being trustworthy, we weren’t shut earlier than this occurred both.

My mother had a troublesome time when she was rising up. Her brother and father died, individually, when she was an adolescent and my grandmother remarried a person nobody was keen on, to say the least. And I spent a very long time blaming my grandma for the childhood trauma my mother spent years and years of remedy having to unravel.

However, a giant a part of me needs I knew my grandma higher. What did she consider every part that had occurred? What was her childhood like? What does she need me to know? A handful of years in the past, my grandma gave away all of her pie birds, to filter her home a bit. I knew I needed to have one. It might be a tangible piece of her. I picked one and have held onto it. It’s include me in all places I’ve lived — the home my roommate and I shared in faculty, my many (many) rental residences, and eventually, to the brand new dwelling my husband and I simply purchased.

It sits displayed in my kitchen and is the form of a pheasant, with a inexperienced head and brown physique. Its yellow beak has a tiny chip in it, however I feel that’s simply proof of how well-traveled it’s. And sure, I do bake with it: As a result of, whereas pie birds aren’t mandatory any extra, each time I take advantage of it I consider my grandma. I take into consideration forgiveness and household as a result of, greater than something, I’d prefer to bake my grandma a pie and inform I like her — even when she doesn’t keep in mind it the subsequent day and even the next hour.

Do you will have a pie chicken? Inform us about it within the feedback!

Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Lifestyle Editor, Tools

Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm is the Instruments Editor at The Kitchn. Knowledgeable kitchen tools tester, she’s labored for America’s Take a look at Kitchen, EatingWell, and Food52. Her aim: to seek out the most effective gear in your kitchen so you do not waste time or cash on anything. She lives in Boston, MA along with her two canines.

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