A Meal to Spark Memories

My mother’s birthday was last month. We celebrated her 98 years. She is cared for in a nursing home in Michigan. She has significant memory loss and is wheelchair bound.

She recognizes family as familiar people and is happy to see us. Sometimes she reverts to the language of her childhood, Finnish. I can only catch the drift of what she is saying.

When she was a child her mother made pasties—meat, potatoes and rutabaga wrapped in pastry. It was a typical meal for miners. My mother’s father worked in the copper mines.

This Upper Michigan specialty was passed on to us. Mom made pasties for our family. We had summer vacations in Upper Michigan and visited relatives there. On a sunny day we would take a picnic basket full of warm pasties, some soda or juice and a thermos of coffee for a picnic lunch at a park along the shore of Lake Superior.

So for her birthday we had a pasty lunch. I brought pasties that I had made at home. My sister and our husbands were able to set a table in the activity room at the nursing home. Mom was more alert and talkative than she has been lately. It was a lovely day.

Here is my recipe for pasties:

Pastry:

3 C. flour

½ tsp. salt

2/3 C. shortening

1 egg yolk,  reserve the egg white

½ C + 2 Tblsp. cold water

1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

     Combine flour and salt.  Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs.

Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar.  Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork.  Add the water slowly and stop when all is moistened. Mix just until it holds together.  If needed added additional water a tablespoon at a time.

     Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground

1 C. rutabaga, chopped

½ C. finely chopped onion

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1+ ½ tsp. salt

   Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle.  Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges.  Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Whisk the reserved egg white until it is a little bubbly; then brush the pasties with the egg white.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Serve hot.

NOTE: Optional additions to the filling include chopped carrots, shredded kale, garlic, herbs.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TABLE

Pasties and Pickles for a Complete Meal

Over the Christmas holidays my husband I traveled first to Michigan where we spent Christmas with my mother, sister and brother. After a brief interlude at home we drove to a town west of St. Louis, Missouri. We rented a house near Lake Sherwood and all of our children and grandchildren joined us. We had some great family time during our four days together.

Lake Sherwood

We had time for many conversations, a walk along the road, board games and a day of adventure at the City Museum in St. Louis. We took turns providing meals. I chose to make the family favorite meal, pasties—well, a favorite among the adults. The nice thing about this meal is that I was able to make the pasties ahead of time, freeze them and bring them along as a ready meal. I let them thaw in the refrigerator at our rental and then baked them for 40 minutes to heat them through. To appease the children I left the onions out of the pasties and included dill pickles as a side dish.

Pasties are a traditional meal in Upper Michigan. The copper miners would take these meat & potato filled pies with them for a meal in the mine. The shops in Upper Michigan still sell them. I have posted the recipe before, but here it is again.

Pastry:

3 C. flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening
1 egg yolk
½ C + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs.

Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed, add additional water a tablespoon at a time.

Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
1 C. rutabaga, chopped
½ C. finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 rounded tsp. salt
Pepper (optional)

Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve hot.

Pasty

If you are planning to freeze the pasties and reheat them later, the bake time can be reduced to 50 minutes.

The dill pickles were a hit. I made them using cucumbers from one sister’s garden, garlic from another sister’s garden and dill from my garden. I came across the recipe for a small batch of pickles here.

Linking with From the Farm,  Titus 2sdays,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Art of Homemaking,  Friendship Friday and Family Friendship & Faith Link-up