The Recipe

The Recipe 

Pastry Crust 

1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ tsp. Salt
½ Cup Shortening
3 Tbs. Cold Water 

My two favorite things to do are Photography and cooking, so I always find parallels between them. So go with me on this lesson 

My Mom was without a doubt, the Best Cook in the world. My friends never hesitated when asked if they wanted to stay for dinner. Every holiday the relatives were at our house well because…Mom was cooking. She was especially known for her Pies. 

As I started baking a Coconut Custard pie for the holiday gathering tomorrow I was reminded of something. It’s NOT just the recipe. 

Baking, is a science, it require exact amounts or the recipe will fail. But, there is an art to it too, it’s a knowing, it’s experience, it’s a touch. 

If I just combined the ingredients above, I would have something resembling a crust. But would it be a great crust? Probably not 

But by watching my mom, asking questions and learning, I knew the art 

It is knowing that Butter is not the same as shortening, it’s about knowing that your shortening and water needs to be cold, It’s about knowing to fork the shortening into the flour and then running your fingers through it to coat each small blob of shortening with flour and until it just feels right to your hand. It’s about mixing in the cold water and kneading by hand but knowing not to over work the dough or it goes from Flakey to tough. It’s knowing to keep the dough cool until you roll it out. It’s knowing you only get one chance to roll out the crust right. If you re-knead it, it will be tough. 

This wasn’t in the recipe, sure a lot of it could be written, but some only comes from being shown by those that came before or through experience. How do you know what “feels right” if you have never felt it before?

 The same applies to photography. Great photography is not about f/8 and setting your focus points right. Too many are looking for a recipe. It’s why you often see people ask, “What were your settings for that shot?” While they may be important, they are not the “It” in” It” in a great photograph. It’s something much more. 

Now this doesn’t mean you just have to do things the “old” way. My Mom always experimented and came up with new recipes (the sign of a Chef rather than a Cook). But if she didn’t know how to make a pastry dough correctly, how could she go further or not in the end just re-invent the wheel? 

This is what the IT is; it’s about the knowing, the experience and finding the art.

Feel, Smell …See

Go make a pie


  1. Sandra November 22, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Indeed, practice makes perfect and after doing a lot of recipes a couple of times, it becomes easier to experiment. Unfortunately, for me, photography is like cordon bleu french cooking. Lots and lots of exact ingredients until it feels right.

    Speaking of pie crusts though, I was trying a recipe for an apple & pumpkin galette which added a tablespoon of sugar to the basic crust. I tried it and the crust is delicious.

    A happy and joyous Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • Peter November 22, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      That’s right Sandra and there are all different recipes for everything

      a Little sugar can help to make a browner shinier crust too as the sugar caramelizes

      Happy Thanksgiving!