As family members gather together there is at some point talk about remember when – a look back to what seems to be simpler days.

Four generations of my family met for a meal Friday in Reynoldsville. Mancuso’s has been a favorite pizza place since my brothers and I were young children. I can remember our family gathering there with cousins from Brockway on a weekend night to share a meal and to visit.

We used to do a lot of visiting back then, especially with my cousins. On weekends either Mom would call her cousin Betty Jane or she would receive a call and a time would be set for whichever family to come and “visit.” That essentially meant the children getting together to play games outside like hide and seek or watch Chilly Billy Theatre while lying with pillows on the living room floor. Of course the scary movies then were not realistic like they are today. We’d watch Dracula or Frankenstein or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Creatures we knew were made up and which gave our parents no worry of having to deal with nightmares in the middle of the night.

While the children were occupied, our parents sat and talked about what had happened during their week and caught up on family news.

There was usually a dish with cheese and pepperoni and crackers on it as a snack. That always seemed another part of “visiting” – food. Once Mom received a call that we would be having company that night or the next, she’d immediately begin planning what snacks and beverages she’d have to prepare. With Mom there was usually something homemade for dessert if she had the time. She’d whip up a pie or a cake in no time. Sometimes it would be dessert and coffee for the snack, other times it was the plate of cheese and pepperoni, chips and dip and pie or cake for dessert. The beverage could have been lemonade, coffee, wine, a mixed drink or beer. She’d make sure she had something for the adults to choose from as well as something for the younger crowd.

As I sat across from two of my nephews, questioning them about their lives, I realized that my brothers and I still had that aspect of “visiting” ingrained in us. Here we were sharing food and “visiting” as we often watched the adults do growing up. I think that “visiting” gene has also been passed down to the next generation. I know it has with my nephews.

The youngest one, who lives in Portland, Ore., and his wife traveled back to Pennsylvania just to see family and to spend some time and “visit.” While I asked him if he was traveling on to see his sister in New York City, he surprised me by saying he had just seen her and that they had come back to Pennsylvania to see his maternal grandmother and Dad, his paternal grandfather.

My other nephew hugged me before he left and told me that he and his family would be down soon to visit with Dad and I, and for longer than just 20-30 minutes.

Yes, these two boys know what “visiting” is about. It’s not just the conversation; it’s about strengthening those family connections that can get stretched from our often too busy lifestyles. It’s taking the time to step back and say family is important to me or friends are important to me. And then acting on that acknowledgement by actually visiting with family or friends, talking to them, finding out how they are doing and letting them know what’s happening in your life.

Those family gatherings and my current yen for homemade pies made me think of tasty, flaky pie crust. A pie crust can almost ruin a good pie if it is too heavy or hard. But a pie crust that stays flakey and easily cut with a fork from first bite to last can make a pie stand out. So I’m sharing the pie crust recipe that I use once again for anyone who may not have seen it before or may not know where the newspaper clipping of the recipe ended up.

This recipe for a buttery, flaky pie crust comes from an old Yankee Magazine. I use this recipe when I make just about any type of pie that needs one or two crusts. Enjoy!


Makes two crusts

6 tbsp. butter-flavored Crisco at room temperature

6 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature

3 to 4 tbsp. ice water

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

In large bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut butter and shortening into flour mixture with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas.

Sprinkle water over mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and blend with fork. Repeat until the dough is moist enough to come together.

Gather the dough into a ball, knead for five seconds, and then cut into two pieces. Flatten each piece a little and shape into a flat disk. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Roll out dough into a circle on a floured surface. For a 10-inch pie, make a 12- to 13-inch circle.

Place dough into a pie dish and fill with whatever pie filling you are making. Repeat with the other disk to make the top crust. Or use the two disks to make single crust pies such as pumpkin for the holidays.

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