Oh, to be the lucky friend of Dave and Pat Henderson.
While others knit caps for loved ones, or make jars of jelly to give away, the Clarkston couple bake pies — sometimes many at a time — and offer them as tokens of affection to folks they care about.
“We give them away more than we eat them because we don’t like to keep too many of them around here,” said Dave.
“Usually the recipe we use makes two, so we always give away at least one, sometimes two,” Pat said. “Because if they’re here, then we eat them.”
Both Dave, 78, and Pat, 73, have been cooking most of their adult lives, and it remains one of their favorite hobbies. Pie baking has become something of a specialty, in part because of Pat’s mother, who was “a terrific cook” and who passed along her love of pie baking and her special recipes.
Dave even won a pie-baking contest at the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown about five years ago.
“He entered in the apple pie, and he won,” Pat said. “I entered in the peach, and I didn’t win. It kind of irritated me.”
The Hendersons have lived most of their lives in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, although both lived away for a short time as youths. They returned to the valley, met in high school and married soon after. They recently celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.
The couple have three children and seven grandchildren.
Pat’s family, the Johnsons, were pioneers in the Cloverland area, and she learned to cook as a child.
“I come from a long line of good cooks, and I was always in the kitchen (with her mother),” Pat said. “On Sundays when my grandmother would bring people home with her from church, my mother would take me to her house and say, ‘Help her.’ So I just learned from the two of them, just working in the kitchen. It just came natural.”
Dave, on the other hand, didn’t have much experience around pots and pans until he was about 20 years old and took time off in November from his job at Potlatch Corp. to go hunting.
“You remember that old Banquet chicken — frozen in a box?” Dave said. “Well, I thought I knew how to cook, but when I started I put the chicken in a cast iron pan and it was burned on the outside and still frozen on the inside. So when I got home I told my mother, ‘I need to know how to cook some things.’ ”
For more than three decades the Hendersons ran Henderson Motors, a truck service shop in North Lewiston. After they sold that business, Dave went to work as a car salesman and Pat got a job at Sears. Both are now retired.
“When I went to work for Rogers Motors I would make a pie for everybody that bought a car for a few years,” Dave said. “And then it got to be quite a few years and I kind of got away from that. After you get about a thousand or more people, I was baking pies all the time.”
These days the Hendersons work as a pie-baking team at their home in Clarkston overlooking the Clarkston Golf & Country Club and the Snake River. Their cupboards are filled with a tall stack of aluminum, disposable foil pie pans to use for giving away to friends and another stack of about a dozen reuseable pie tins they use for themselves.
Usually they bake for their family and friends, and sometimes people will ask them to bake pies for special functions. Once, when Dave baked a pie for a fundraiser, the pie sold for $450.
Pat says the key to baking good pies is to keep everything as cold as possible. She keeps the all-purpose flour she uses for pies in the freezer until it’s time to mix it. The shortening, the eggs, and all other ingredients are kept cold, and once the pastry is mixed she keeps it in the refrigerator at least two hours before she puts in the filling. She also emphasizes the importance of measuring accurately, especially when it comes to adding liquid to the flour mixture.
Dave, who credits his pie-baking skills to Pat and her mother, likes to prepare the fillings. He has a fondness for kitchen gadgets and said apple peeling has become a lot more fun ever since he got an attachment for the KitchenAid mixer that peels and cores apples quickly.
A sign in the couple’s kitchen sums up their philosophy: “If you feed them, they will come.”
Pat and Dave Henderson’s Pie Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups Crisco shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Cut shortening into flour and salt. Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with a spoon just until flour is moistened. This is an easy crust to handle; however, when rolling it out, it does need plenty of flour on board to keep it from sticking.
Pastry for double crust pie
6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pastry. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add sugar mixture to apples and toss. Add apple mixture to bottom crust. Put dollops of butter on the apples, then put on top crust. Brush top with canned milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.
Huckleberry Cream Delight
1 single pie crust, baked (see note)
1 2½ ounce package Dream Whip
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla
Prepare Dream Whip according to directions on the package and set aside. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar. Add Dream Whip mixture. Pour into cooled pie shell.
2½ cups frozen huckleberries
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cook slowly until berries are soft, then add mixture of water and cornstarch. Continue cooking until mixture is thick. Cool and top pie with huckleberries.
NOTE: To bake pie crust: Roll out and fit into pie pan. Prick crust with a fork and flute around the edges. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Hedberg is a longtime Tribune reporter who loves to cook and bake. Anyone who has recipes to share, or knows of someone who's a whiz in the kitchen, may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 983-2326.