In our own backyard...Which witch is the Kitchen Witch?
There it sat in the middle of the church kitchen. It looked like an ordinary wooden chair - except that it was painted in bright, red lacquer and had a hole cut in the middle of the seat. Inside the hole was a metal, one-armed contraption that lo...
There it sat in the middle of the church kitchen. It looked like an ordinary wooden chair - except that it was painted in bright, red lacquer and had a hole cut in the middle of the seat. Inside the hole was a metal, one-armed contraption that looked a good deal like a miniature guillotine!
Little did I know it at the time, but it was to be my ultimate fate.....
I had volunteered to help make pasties for our big church pasty sale last week, and since this was my first time doing it, I had to first be trained in on what was expected of me. I donned the requisite pair of latex gloves, one of those little shower-cap-like hats that surgeons and food workers wear, and a bib-style apron with a Christmas tree on it (this was church, remember, and you have to take what you can get!).
"Are you any good at rolling dough?" asked the woman in charge, who had made pasties for many years.
"Ummm," I hesitated, "Not really."
"OK," she responded with a smile, "let's put you to work on building pasties!"
She led me over to where a group of women was already working, assembly-line fashion, and she gave me a quick run-through on how to do it. A large chart on the wall listed each ingredient, how much to put into each pasty, and in what order. She showed me how to stack each ingredient on the rectangle of dough, adding salt and pepper after the meat and then again after the onion.
She showed me how to dampen the edges and then lift - not pull - the dough over the ingredients and seal it up, cutting off the excess dough and crimping it around the edges.
"Be careful not to leave too much dough at the corners," she cautioned, "or it will be tough after it's baked."
The final steps were to cut a vent in the top of the pasty, weigh it on a scale to make sure it had the correct amount of filling and then place it on the baking sheet so the edges were facing outward.
I took a couple of moments to review it all in my mind, and then I jumped in.
Potatoes, meat, salt and pepper, carrots/rutabagas, onions, salt and pepper, dampen the edges, lift-not-fold, seal, trim, crimp, vent, weigh and place on the baking sheet.
"Wait a minute," I gasped to myself. "Did I remember the salt and pepper after the onions?"
Since it was already too late, I surreptitiously slid the pasty onto the baking sheet and went back to the assembly line.
I proceeded more carefully than before when my mentor returned.
"Any problems?" she asked.
"It's going OK," I said, sliding another completed pasty onto the baking sheet.
"You might want to trim it a little bit closer around the corners so it doesn't get too tough," she reminded me kindly.
I was finally rolling along like a finely-tuned machine when the woman in charge returned and asked if I'd be willing to take charge of dicing potatoes. As I followed her into the kitchen, there sat the chair-like contraption which, she explained, is called a Kitchen Witch. She showed me how to slice the potatoes, stack them up three-high on the metal grid comprised of sharp blades, and then lower the arm to force the potato slices through the grid. The diced potatoes fell out the bottom into a big plastic bucket of cold water.
I was soon humming along and found it to be actually kind of fun.
Slice, stack, pull, drop.... Slice, stack, pull, drop....
Guiltily, I felt a little like the executioner at the beheading of Marie Antoinette.