Years ago, my husband and I lived in Chicago. Every Thanksgiving, I cooked an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner with a huge turkey, various trimmings, an appetizer course, hors d'oeuvres, and a couple of pies for dessert. All this for three people: he, me, and my younger sister, who would take the train out from college to spend the week as our Thanksgiving Visitor. It was blissful.
When our son was born, we moved the hundreds of miles back to New York to live closer to our parents (both sets of whom live in the same town ~ !) so we could do family-type things like celebrate holidays and get free babysitting.
Because my dad is a chef, I no longer cook Thanksgiving dinner. He hogs the spotlight by making a huge turkey, 35 side dishes, homemade cranberry relish, and about 50 appetizers that do a pretty good job of making the big meal anticlimactic. As the baker, I get assigned desserts.
Now, as you might imagine, it takes some pretty spectacular desserts to rouse any interest at all after this stupendous feast. My father's Thanksgiving dinner is not an easy act to follow. Over the years, I've refined my techniques so that the pies I make and bring tend to actually get eaten, which, you'll have to trust me here, is a tremendous compliment on its own.
This year, I'll be bringing my A-est game though. I'm going to the CIA ~ that's the Culinary Institute of America, folks ~ for their "Holiday Pies at the CIA" class! I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this. Going back to the CIA is, for me, like what I imagine it would be for Alice to return to Wonderland (the good parts, that is).
When I told my chef friend at the restaurant where I work about my pie class, he said, "Do you think you really need a class on how to make pie?" (And yes, I did hug him, bless his heart.) I thought about it. And friends, the answer is yes. Because although I've made probably thousands of pies using scores of different techniques, there is never a point at which you stop learning. And every time I go back to the CIA for a class or a bootcamp, I learn something new, something expanding and relevant to the job I do at work or at home.
Plus, making all my Thanksgiving pies in someone else's kitchen with no cleanup at home and lunch at the CIA? Priceless.
If you want to get in on the action and live in the New York-Connecticut-Massachusetts area, check it out. The Holiday Pies class is offered on Monday 11/23, Tuesday 11/24, and Wednesday 11/25. And coming up in December, they'll be offering a Holiday Cookies Class. Wonderland, here I come.