Where’d ‘Ya Get Those Pies, Martha? – Lemon Tassies! – 111 eggs, 87 1/4 cups of sugar, 87 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 98 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 110 recipes to go!

September 26, 2010

Martha's Lemon Tassies

André's Lemon Tassies

I have a friend and co-worker who just celebrated his 50th birthday with many of his friends and family gathered at his home for the auspicious event. It was quite an eclectic group of people, most from where we work. My friend loves lemon desserts. I’ve baked up a few of Martha’s tangy desserts for him in the last year and so taking a crack at Martha’s Lemon Tassies seemed natural. – (It just occurred to me that last statement sounded potentially naughty. Sorry about that.)

What’s a tassie? Well, this took a little research but from what I can gather, it is a derivative of the Scottish word, Tass- a small and decorative cup or goblet. Tassie pastries are, in fact, small flaky cups that contain some rich and decadent filling, much like a bite-sized pie.They can be filled with sweets like, lemon custard and sugary pecan or they can be used for more savory fillings like miniature quiches or cheesy spinach dips.

Tassies require a little elbow grease. A tiny ball of dough has to be pressed into the miniature pockets of a tassie pan and molded by hand. Most tassie pans are non-stick so getting the butter-based dough to adhere to the pan and not my thumb was a bit of a challenge. It took me a good twenty minutes to fill two tassie pans with the doughy crusts. These crusts had to be baked until lightly golden, then cooled, then reshaped if some crusts rose while baking, then filled with an egg-based lemon custard, and then baked again. Honestly, it was a lot of work.

This particular tassie also needed to be kept refrigerated since it has a custard filling. I don’t care for cookies that require refrigeration. Actually I don’t like having to move everything around in the fridge to make room for a pan of tassies. Martha seems to have a lot of recipes that require refrigerated storage and so I find myself playing Tetris with my refrigerator often.

“When you die, your bones stay in the ground but the rest of you goes up to heaven.”  That was Sister Barbara’s explanation of the afterlife.

Sister Barbara was a tall and slender woman. She was in her late thirties or maybe her early forties and had short, sensible hair. Her nose had a bit of a point to it and her eyes and mouth seemed to be squished together around it. She loved God despite what he did to her face.

It was in my third grade religion class at St. Thomas More Elementary where I really started to obsess on death. My death, her death, our death, it didn’t matter. At the tender age of seven I became keenly aware that one day my heart would stop beating, I would draw my last breath ascend towards heaven, and leave my bones as my only Earthy remains.

Thanks to Sister Barbara, my vision of heaven was terrifying. Instead of lovely angels in white robes and halos sporting giant wings and strumming golden lyres, I thought of the heavenly afterlife as a horrible exile for boneless slug-people. Behind St. Peter’s pearly gates was a land filled with wriggling, slithering, folks who left slime trails across the cloudy patches of heaven’s floor. You could never eat anything good like corn on the cob or cheeseburgers in heaven because teeth are bone and you had to leave those on Earth. Instead, you’d have to eat what the slug-angels ate. Spinach, Cream of Wheat and dirt. What’s worse is I’d never be able to play piano again. Can you imagine trying to manipulate your fingers without finger bones? It just seemed like a miserable and unfair way to spend eternity.

I asked Sister Barbara if I’d get to keep my bones if I went to hell. She slapped me across the back of my head and told me to go pray that God didn’t hear me ask such a stupid question.

I hated third grade. It’s about this time that kids start becoming a bit more aware of the world around them and have to cope with the thought that they may not be the center of the universe. They begin asking themselves the big questions: Why am I here? What happens when I die? What is life? Am I a good person?

At St. Thomas More we had big nuns to answer these big questions. Their answers always seemed to leave me wanting to ask other questions.

Here are some examples of a Q&A with the little Sisters of St. Thomas More:

Q- Where do babies come from? A- From God’s Love.

Q- Then why do pregnant ladies have such big bellies? A- It’s to hold all of God’s love.

Q- But my mom had to go to the hospital and when she came back I had a sister. Why did she have to go to the hospital? Was God’s love making her sick?- A- You ask too many questions. God doesn’t like children who ask too many questions.

The nuns at Saint Thomas More did not wear habits. Instead they sported polyester pants, coats and turtlenecks. They did wear large wooden crosses around their necks, though so they couldn’t go bar-hopping after work. Other than the cross around their necks, they dressed a bit like female detectives from the late seventies TV shows. Kind of like Charlie’s Angels, if Charlie had a thing for older women with facial hair.

They all lived together in a convent across the street from the school. They had all taken vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. These are difficult vows to make. Think about it. Chastity- Nun = None. Obedience means that God doesn’t like kids who ask too many questions. Poverty’s not so bad. In a convent you can have whatever you’d like. You just can’t own it.

I spent eight years of my life with these ladies, this little Catholic coven nestled in the heart of the Sherwood Forest subdivision.

After twelve years of Catholic schooling I have quite a few stories that are faith-based. My next few posts will be dedicated to my K-8 years at St. Thomas More.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with this adage:

“That which does not kill us was obviously not a nun.”


2 Responses to “Where’d ‘Ya Get Those Pies, Martha? – Lemon Tassies! – 111 eggs, 87 1/4 cups of sugar, 87 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 98 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 110 recipes to go!”

  1. Tommy Salami Says:

    I was raised Catholic and only went to catechism, aka “Sunday school,” until I could get Confirmed, but thank you for making me cackle like a madman in my cubicle.

  2. Eri Says:

    Where in the world do you get a tassie pan?
    The image of all those boneless slugs squishing their way around heaven eating creamed spinach–I laughed so hard I think I woke Oscar up.

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