Pie Therapy

Recipes and ruminations on pie.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Birthday Pie

My mom has the same birthday as me. Every year she sends me a carrot cake. Last year she was a bit melancholy because she was making her own cake.

This year, I am making her a pie. I called under the pretense of Pie blog research. I asked her about pies, why she started making them, who else in her family made them. Most importantly I found out she likes Apple and Pumpkin best. So, I am making her the Triple Ginger Pumpkin. Then I am shipping cross country to arrive on her birthday. This year she won't need to make her cake.

But I did learn some cool stuff too. Turns out my grandma and great-grandmother (on my mom's side) hated to bake. However, my grandfather's mother was a caterer. And she made pies. Ah ha! She catered for the Williamstown, MA elite at the early part of the last century. Including for Teddy Roosevelt. My great-grandfather was the town blacksmith. Teddy took a liking to him and gave him a sheep dog. Like I said, cool.

I have always liked to bake too: cookies, brownies, popcorn balls, candy. The pies are new. But as my mom says, you come to pies later.

Postscript - so I sent the pie. Fedex charged $75. The fedex person said it was likely the most expensive pie ever. Mom was very surprised and said she and my dad enjoyed it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Crust Confessions

My friend was going to a pie party. What a cool idea! Everyone brings a pie. Once I hone my skill more, I may have to try this. Anyhow my friend asked me for my crust recipe. Here it is, it is from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cookbook.

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3-5 T of ice water.
Mix the flour with the salt. Cut in the butter. Gradually add the water. I always need more water, and try to stay to 6 T. But the key is to add just enough water to get it to stay together. And to work it as little as possible. Worse comes to worst, I just pat it in. And if the filling is good, people won't really notice if it isn't perfect, or even bad. But, everyone always notices when it is good.

My mom uses shortening. I generally try to stay away from shortening - trans fats, hydrogenated oils and all that. And, I think butter tastes better. My mom says says shortening makes the crust flakier. Maybe, but I think the butter adds more flavor and seems somehow less greasy.

I tried the Cream Cheese crust for Ginger Pumpkin pie; you can read about it in the Pumpkin Pie Challenge entry; what a disaster.

Many people just use store bought. But as I have discussed with many other people, they are grainy and greasy and just generally blah. And truthfully, it takes maybe 15 minutes more to make the crust.

I had lunch with my pie party friend the other day. We discussed a lot of girly things. As I have hit my thirties, or maybe it is just the era, it is okay - no, even cool to be a girl and do girly things.

Craft fairs are hip. Hipsters knit. Cooking is cool. Of course I told her about my new obsession with pies.

She told me about a recent show on NPR about a new book called Humble Pie. I thought maybe I would find a kindred pie spirit. But the Author, Anne Dimock was more from my mom's generation and had all this fake feminism mumbo jumbo to say. The author discussed how she could tell about a man by the way he ate a pie. And that pie means family, etc.

To me, it is something I can do late at night, that I can finish. It is something everybody loves and it is something unique that shows that I care. It is way that I can be creative in a hands on fashion. I do agree though with Ms. Dimock and the All Things interviewer, that pie is becoming a lost art.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Streusel Pear Pie

My sister found out about Pie Therapy. We have another blog together, politically oriented. I thought she might feel like I was two-timing her, so I didn't tell her about it. Instead, she thought I was crazy (and she wanted some pie).

We were having friends over to decorate the tree. We had a bunch of pears left from last weeks market, and I wanted to try a pear pie. My mom said that I shouldn't use too ripe pears as it would turn to mush. She was also pretty negative about pear pie in general, not as tasty etc, as apple. But maybe, she thinks I am stepping on her pie toes. She too heard about the pie blog.

I had about 8 (small) Seckel pears that were very ripe so I mixed them with 2 pretty unripe Bosc's.

I have been getting much better at crust. I whipped it together pretty quickly and then got to work on the recipe. It came from Cooks.com I really like it as a resource. You can quickly scour a bunch of recipes to find one that suits your taste, what you've got in the fridge, etc. So, hear it is with my mods:

  • 4 lg. pears
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/2 t grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ginger
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 1/3 c flour1/4 c. butter1 (9") unbaked pie shell

Core and dice pears. Toss with sugar, 1/3 cup flour, lemon peel, ginger, juice and nutmeg. Combine brown sugar, pecans and 1/3 cup flour. Cut in butter. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar mixture over bottom of pie shell. Add pear mixture. Top with remaining sugar mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes until pears are fully cooked.

Everyone loved it. We served it to our friends with half vanilla and half ginger ice cream. We served it for breakfast to M-I-L, she thought it was excellent, especially the crust which managed to say crispy.

My husband thought, after poo pooing the lemon when I first added it, that there could be more lemon, more ginger and hazelnuts would have been better that pecans. But all in all he liked and in fact, hubby thought it have even developed more flavor from the evening before. Then the pie was gone.