Maine, United States

Making No. 2 / FAUNA Contributor Feature: Tammy White
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Making No. 2 / FAUNA Contributor Feature: Tammy White

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A highlight from creating Making No. 2 was visiting Wing and a Prayer Farm with my family.  Enjoy an interview with Tammy White, who contributed an amazing pie recipe to FAUNA!

What is unique about your designs?

It isn’t unusual to hear from someone that they’ve never had a better pie than ours. It is extremely flattering, and I consider our pies to be a gift from the heart. I am not kidding when I tell them that it is love that makes them so. My grandmother taught me and I taught my children. Each and every time I put a pie together, I am combining the ingredients, rolling the crust, shaping the designs with sweet memories of Grandma Brown at the forefront and muscle-memory in my hands and arms from years of crafting. My favorite way to work with the top crust is to roll it out and see how it “wants” to be handled. If it has a certain yield, I’ll turn it into something intricate or something simple. The filling ingredients tell me if the top should be humble or fancy. There is no single way that I will turn a pie out of the kitchen for an occasion unless the customer makes a specific request. So the ease of being able to be flexible with one pie at a time means that my head and my heart are free to create patterned or plain desserts.

Why are you excited about the project you designed for Making?

I designed a lovely harvest recipe for Making that includes pears and figs, maple and butter. Some of my favorite ingredients. Every year I have a neighbor that I barter with: she has a fruit tree orchard and I raise turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. She loads up my front porch with her heirloom pears, bushels and bushels full for me to put up for pies, and I save a giant turkey for her to serve her family in November. A Thanksgiving pie made with her pears is the perfect example of the essence of the pie-making in our farm kitchen. Something local, something simple. Fresh, uncomplicated ingredients. Maple syrup from the trees in my woods. Pears from my friend. The figs are a treat that I save for a special occasion. I swoon over figs! They elevate the simple ingredients used in our everyday pies.

When designing the crust to top the special combination for ‘Making’, it did not take long to include the figure of the peace dove that floats above our barn’s cupola as part of it’s weathervane. Every night of my entire life I have offered up a prayer for peace, for kindness and love. The dove is symbolic of all of that, in addition to it being representative of my respect for the animal kingdom.

What's your favorite color?

My favorite color since I was a little girl is GREEN! I love green, all shades, and I’m so lucky that I get to live in the Green Mt. State.

If you were going to create something just for fun today, what would it be?

My work and my fun are the same thing, almost every day. Whether I am in the barn cleaning a stall for the sweet animals I care for or I am in my dye-studio deriving shades from a bloom to saturate the wool with color, I am inspired by my work. I often admire other’s works of fun and beauty, but when it comes to my own creations, half of the energy which turns my work into pleasure is by combining purpose and design for the most pleasing end results.

Today I am preparing a large order for a wedding this coming weekend (a pie wedding!) and am brainstorming the most beautiful presentation for the pumpkin pies that are ordered. I am planning to decorate the crust around the custard with a vine-inspired motif and am imagining the filling in a layered-fashion, smooth and rich pumpkin custard below, light and chiffony-pumpkin cream above.

If you could collaborate with three people, who would they be and why?

I have four!  I have two heroines in the field of culinary arts: Deb Perelman, of “Smitten
Kitchen”, and Gesine Bullock-Prado of “G Bakes!” It would be my honor and pleasure to share a kitchen with the two of them to create new and old recipes in a menu for family and friends at a long row of tables for a farm-to-table meal. Gesine Bullock-Prado’s sense of humor and genius as a pastry chef are so inspiring. She understands excellent ingredients and is not above any delicious dish, even if it is of humble origins. Gesine is hard-working and professional and I would love to gain a higher understanding of the science of dessert-baking from her intelligence and experience. I also appreciate and admire her writing skills and her diligence in chronicling her work. I think we would be able to prepare and work well together because of our shared love-affair with the quality regional ingredients of New England.

Similarly brilliant, Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen, can fill a table with amazing plates, her resourcefulness and skill coordinates well with my own appreciation of using what’s in the pantry. Deb shows how to make something gorgeous and appetizing out of very little or very exquisite ingredients, calling on basics as well as obscure spices and techniques. I learn something new from following her recipes every single time. She, like Gesine, is a beautiful writer and journalist, sharing her discoveries, good and bad, in the kitchen.  I am a reverent follower of Sasha Duerr and would very much enjoy to work alongside her to share the love of natural dyeing. Her philosophies to use foraged matter as well as patience with the dye pot according to the environment are exactly in alignment with my own mindset, though her knowledge and experience vastly surpass my skills. I think it would be very exciting to host a collaboration at our farm in Vermont, at any time of the year, and see what our combined skills and techniques would yield in creating a natural dye palette together.

Ellen Mason, ‘Odacier’ online, is pure sunshine and brilliance. She is smart and giving and open to ideas and suggestions but also very balanced by measure and good judgment. Her weaving, knitting, and textile sewing background, in addition to her design skills, offer a more expert eye without intimidation. We have a mutual appreciation and respect for each other’s talents and goals. I think that any collaboration with Ellen would be a best-of combination of energy and shared reverence of professional levels of fiber art in addition to the appreciation of simplicity and environmental inspiration found in New England.

Thank you, Tammy!