Today is National Pie Day (not to be confused with Pi Day, March 14th). I didn’t bake today. I didn’t even eat a piece of pie today. That being said, I like to think I embody the spirit of National Pie Day a good deal in my life; I’m not feeling too guilty about my lack of celebrations.
In fact, I did one good pie deed today…I delivered a Pie-in-a-Jar. Did any of you “celebrate”?
In honor of the holiday, I wanted to share with you the pies I baked for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) this past fall.
The Triple-Layer Pumpkin-Chocolate Pie is pictured below. 1. Empty crust 2. The first layer, cheesecakey pumpkin filling with chocolate mixed in 3. The second layer, the same pumpkin filling without chocolate added 4. A tangy sour cream topping to finish it off.
Here’s what it takes to make a Jellied Cranberry-Pecan Pie.
For the last two years, Levi and I have belonged to a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program. Each week that we’re home we pick up a box of locally-grown produce and try to figure out how to consume it all. Some of the vegetables we get leave us scratching our heads. Celeriac? Romanesco? Kohlrabi?! They look like aliens. In the fall and winter, we don’t often get typical pie fruits like apples or pears. At least in summer the berries are plentiful, and I’ve been known to make pies out of such unlikely vegetables as carrots and parsnips!
Every now and then I will get something in our CSA box that’s perfect for a pie. Butternut Squash, for example. The nice thing about squash as opposed to pumpkin in a pie is that the flesh is a bit firmer and denser. Pumpkin can be slightly watery (especially if you aren’t using a specifically pie-oriented variety.)
Five-Spice Winter Squash Pie obviously contained enough Chinese Five-Spice powder to taste; interestingly, so did two other pies I made this fall (Five-Spice Pear-Apple Pie and Green Tomato-Cranberry Pie). It’s an unlikely ingredient that works well, and I foresee adding it to other types of pie in the future.
This may be the first (and last) time I’ve ever copy/pasted something directly from Wikipedia on my blog, but here is the actual breakdown of typical Five-Spice powder. Just in case you are super nerdy like me and wanted to do some research on the various components. I think I’m drawn to it mainly because of the fennel/anise aspect of things. Definitely one of my favorite flavors in life.
One of my favorite things this past fall was Ace’s Pumpkin Hard Cider. In my mind I thought for so long it was actually made from pumpkins, and then I realized it was just apple with spices and pumpkin flavor. Still, a delicious accompaniment to any “pumpkin” pie, like this masquerader.
We were having dinner with some friends. I said, “I’m bringing a Butternut Squash pie.” She said, “Great! I’m making a Peach-Blueberry Cobbler.” There were only four adults eating. This is a good kind of friend.
Okay…if Green Tomato Pie didn’t get you too excited…from the poll results it looked like about 30% of you had serious doubts…maybe this one will.
The Hammett House Famous German Chocolate Pie. I’ve never been to the Hammett House Restaurant (namely because it is in Oklahoma) but I get good feelings about it. Really good feelings.
First let’s just take a look at the way the coconut and pecans are being folded into the chocolate cream filling here…it’s a thing of beauty. Literally, this picture makes me drool. As if the homemade graham cracker crust and luscious chocolately filling weren’t enough, the pie gets topped with chocolate whipped cream with more pecans and coconut mixed in. It’s almost too good to be true.
The end result just looks like a mess. A beautiful mess. It’s also MONSTROUS in size. The hugest pie you will probably ever encounter.
It tastes even better than it looks.
We got to share this pie with our friends Jenny and Tyler, who are not only lovely people but some of our favorite musicians. Check them out here if you haven’t listened to their music before. You may remember that J&T did a house show at our place back in March, so we felt pretty lucky to get them back for another one only about half a year later. I think it has something to do with the pies…
Thanks again, guys. It was a beautiful night. But no more pies unless you bring baby Jane next time. 😉
Do they look like something to be put in a pie? (Say yes.)
I really, really hate waste. It’s one of my least favorite things ever. Levi likes to play this game with me where he says, “What if you had to choose between throwing out a full plate of (insert a delicious food here) or have someone give you $20?” And then he just ramps the price up until I finally agree to throw the hypothetical food away. It’s a really annoying game. The point is, it usually takes about $100 (depending on what the food is), where thereby proves my original point (that I hate waste).
Because I hate waste, I do weird things including but not limited to: saving rose petals from bouquets of flowers for making homemade rosewater, refilling shampoo bottles with dish detergent and olive jars with castile soap (much to my household’s confusion), making green tomato pie.
That’s what those are, if you hadn’t guessed yet. Well, tomato season was over, and there were a few cupfuls of tomatoes lingering on the vine that certainly weren’t going to turn red. What was a resourceful girl to do?
Luckily Ken Haedrich provides not one, but TWO recipes for Green Tomato Pie in his cookbook. I’m not the only crazy one around here.
Alright, now that you’ve gotten over your initial shock…doesn’t the filling actually look pretty in the bowl, with the contrasting green tomatoes and red cranberries?
Oh yeah, and I used bear lard in the crust. I guess that could also be classified as one of those weird/resourceful hunter/gatherer things I do.
But before I had the chance to bake this pie, there was a slight mishap in which Obi ate three-quarters of a dark chocolate bar and I had to rush him to the animal hospital instead of watching football and eating pie like I was kinda planning on. The Giants lost that game anyway. It figures.
When Obi had finished running into walls (apparently how he exhibits “chocolate toxicity”) and gobbling down his white rice and bland chicken breast, I baked the pie and then took great pleasure in feeding it to various friends and making them guess what they were eating. And hey! They liked it.
Kind of makes me want to start quoting Dr. Seuss…
“Say! I like green tomatoes and crans! I do! I like them, Jess-I-am!”
Jess went back “home” to New Jersey for a weekend. An unfortunate coincidence was that this was the same weekend as our Church’s Dessert Bake-Off. All our friends assumed Jess would dethrone the reigning champ with one of her pies. They breathed a collective sigh of disappointment/competitive relief when word got ’round that a Pie would be missing.
Jess decided that instead of not entering a pie, why don’t I, the Pie Man to her Pie Woman make one.
Jess is a woman that is profuse with consistently fantastic ideas, so, I dutifully followed her suggestion. The Dessert Bake-Off would have a pie from a Gelineau after-all.
I have seen a few pies made in my life (like, 120 or so) so, I was clear on the basics. From one layman to maybe another, here’s the step by step for us the NORMAL, casual, pie bakers.
Crust Into Dish…. Okay, crust isa hard part, and to be honest with you, Jess made that part for me ahead of time. I am only one man.
Sugar on Berries, Makes ’em good. Surround the sugared berries in a cloud of a starch.
Pitch that happy family into the crust.
Cover the fruit with some more carbs.
Bake until it looks like you may not be able to resist eating the whole kit and caboodle.
I was happy with how it came out, and wished it luck at the competition.
(Note the sage and discerning Judge in the background).