News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

November 22, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Holidays bring on baking duties

Somehow, in the vast scheme of things, I have ended up point person for holiday baking.

I know how it happened. Mom was a great cook. I’d give almost anything if I had found her recipe for raisin sugar cookies or the chocolate-orange cake. She turned out coffee cakes, sweet rolls, bread, butterfly rolls and sweet surprises. We always had dessert.

But Mom never got the hang of pie crust. It was like chewing a paper plate. One busy day she put me to work on pie crust intending to fill it with one of her special cream pies. Somehow I produced a miracle.

By default, I became the go-to person for pie crust. Mom filled, I did the crust. For treats, I made little cinnamon roll-ups with the leftover crust. These are still the highlight of baking for Number One son. “Forget the pie,” says he, “but don’t forget those cinnamon things!”

When my Best Friend and I began spending Thanksgiving with his sister and her family, she did the turkey, I did the pie. I always made two pumpkin — canned pumpkin grew green hair before I got around to baking again. I made apple and mince, too. All told, I created four pies for something like six adults and four kids. I must have been nuts.

But my sister-in-law moved to Texas and now Thanksgiving comes to our house.

I quit making pumpkin because there were always leftovers which no one wanted to take home and pumpkin doesn’t freeze well. Apple is a must. I want mine with a chunk of sharp cheddar, but ice cream is an alternative.

I’ve added chocolate mousse to my holiday repertoire which seems to go over with the grandchildren especially. I’ve been tempted to scoop the chocolate mousse into dishes, but it doesn’t sell well without the crust. At least it’s easy.

This year Number Two son has volunteered to do the turkey thing and the garlic mashed potatoes at his house. I’m doing — guess what!

As Thursday approaches, I will be in flour up to my elbows and I’ll have a determined gleam in my eye. I’m no Betty Crocker and I can’t hold a candle to Mom, but by golly, I can still make pie crust.

I guess I’m thankful for that. You have a happy Thanksgiving, too.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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