With the exception of a few weeks at my sister’s cabin in the woods, my father has been living with me since June. In April, he lost his residence to fire. He spent some time drifting between my sister’s house, my house, and staying with friends and then decided he needed some permanence for his dog, Diego, an aging German short-haired pointer.
Because I’m a good daughter, and my husband is a great man, we took him in. I don’t mean to blow my own horn, but if you knew my dad… well… I think I earned some major karma points. Dad is what we politely call a strong personality. And the idea of living with my father after well over twenty years of only seeing him in small doses caused some concern.
But honestly, it’s not all bad. Except for Diego’s run-ins with skunks in the yard. And Dad not being able to take a hint when we need a little privacy. He has his own apartment attached to the house (that used to be my office, but hey- do I need a second kitchen, yet another sitting room with cable TV, and a sunken whirlpool bath? Heck no), with a separate entrance, but he likes company. He’s an over-sharer. That’s my dad. And we’ve actually started to get used to him (Except when he tells us what he watched on cable. That, I do not, will never, need to know).
Last week, Dad and I cooked together at his request. He wanted to make pasties (Cornish meat pies), a recipe he used to make with his mom and dad. And when he started to correct my chopping technique, or suggest a better way to roll the dough, I had a breakthrough. Dad always has a suggestion, a bit of advice, a better way to do things. And I always bristle and get annoyed and inform him that I know perfectly well what I am doing. But this time, I said, “Wow, Dad, you’re right. Thanks.”
And it was so much easier! He smiled with satisfaction and moved on. It only took me 44 years to learn to just tell my dad what he wanted to hear instead of prolonging a discussion to my frustration. Aha! Progress. Or selling out? I will stick with progress. Unless it comes to politics. Then I’ve got to set the old man straight.
Pie crust (use your favorite recipe, or pillsbury pre-made– or try this dough, doubled if you want more than two pasties but they are big, each serves one or two people, depending).
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
13 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 tablespoons cold lard
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with metal blade (or use a pastry cutter if you’re old school).
2. Cut in butter cubes with five 1-second pulses. Add cold lard and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no bigger than small peas, about 4 additional 1-second pulses. Turn mixture out into a medium-sized bowl.
3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With a fork, fluff to mix thoroughly. Squeeze a handful of dough — if it doesn’t stick together, add remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
4. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other then flatten into 6-inch discs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 parsnips, diced
1 pound sirloin (or stew beef) diced
Mix together, season as desired, but at least 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and a sprinkling of worcestershire sauce.