Luckily I had a few tricks up my sleeve.
My first trick was having a back-up box of Trader Joe's pie crusts* in the freezer. This is a trick all cooks should remember: always have a back up. I had bought the box only the night before, a little suspicious that the dough I had resting in the refrigerator was not going to behave. Dramatically, there was only one box left in the store's cooler. I figured that this was surely a sign and snapped it up, lickety-split.
The second trick was to be flexible: back-bend, yoga-star, double-jointed, freak-show attraction flexible. If I hadn't had the pie dough backup, I was ready to turn my filling into a pumpkin pudding or even pumpkin mousse. I knew people tend to like the crust so I had a package of profiteroles on hand (see trick number one, above) which would have made a nice garnish and added some of that buttery crunch to offset the dense, sweet custard filling. It would have been hard to give up that perfect circle of pie, but I had a plan B and I was willing to use it. It turned out that I didn't have to but this willingness to allow things morph and change had its rewards (see trick number three, below.)
There was a fifth trick, too, which was to find appreciation, find the little nugget of gold hiding in the dung of disaster. In my case, there were many nuggets. I learned a lot from my trickster pie dough. I learned the importance of having a back-up (and that the Trader Joe's pie crusts really are an acceptable alternative.) I leaned to step back and to not become, not identify with, my problem and that that gesture can help me have a clear enough mind to find an elegant solution. I discovered a new, nibbly-bit recipe and a little something about working with lard in a dough (it has to be really cold!)
Maybe the most important trick, then, is to find that appreciation in real time, in whatever is happening in front of us. Right there in the middle of our lives with all the disastrous pie doughs and dog paws and bowls of chestnut soup. Right there in the middle of the feast.
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*Note: Do not apply this trick with inferior pre-made pie crusts. While Trader Joe's version isn't as good as a well-made home made crust, it's really not that bad and certainly will do in a pinch. Pillsbury, on the other hand, most certainly will not.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Peace and Quiet
(Images: Dana Velden)