Well hey friends! I’ve been sitting on this story for a little too long. Almost seems appropriate though, because this is DEFINITELY a warm weather pie that I’ll be sharing with you today. It featured at our family vacation in San Diego in March, and if you’ve been to San Diego, you know it’s practically summer year-round there. But, for the rest of us, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is just now truly approaching. So if you feel inspired to try making this pie by the end of this post, I would strongly encourage you to do so. I already can’t wait to make it again.
You may already have guesses as to what kind of pie is forthcoming here. But I’m going to drag out the guessing game a little longer. Your first visual clue is a graham cracker crust. (Pictured with other necessary ingredients of a great family vacation: stickers, virtual Sunday School crafts, and cribbage.)
And now…wait…what is happening here? Is this post about a pie or a cocktail?
Well, my friends, that is a trick question. For the pie in question is the Manchester Highlands Inn Strawberry Margarita Pie and if there was ever a cocktail in pie form, this would be it.
Step One: prepare two cups of juicy, sugared strawberries. While those are, I believe the exact word would be “macerating”, get out your food processor that you seem to always travel to Mission Bay, San Diego with lately and add the following: condensed milk, tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice. Once the sugar has finished its work on the strawberries, those get popped into the food processor and everything gets blended into a nice smooth pink concoction.
After the strawberry filling chills for a time, it gets folded together with freshly whipped cream, then frozen. More fresh strawberries and some mint leaves adorn the top. Ain’t it purty?
Enjoy this pie around a firepit, if it’s not *quite* summertime yet.
This dessert only appealed to a portion of our family members, leaving me with almost half a pie that I cared not to waste. So Levi, who is supportive of my ways, agreed to go to the convenience store for some paper plates so he and I and Matt (always around for pie adventures) could tromp around the vacation-y Mission Bay neighborhood and ask strangers if they would like a slice. We shared with the following people: a couple about to go on a little nighttime walk who immediately went back inside to store their pie in the freezer for a post-walk treat, an extremely pleasant city worker named Armando who introduced himself to us as we were walking away, and a group of beachfront merrymakers who were very pleased to have some Strawberry Margarita Pie to go with their hookah.
And I’ll leave you with a few photos of precious family time/chaos. Kids make life so much more…exciting? Squirmy? ❤
The third week of January 2021 was a Rather Blustery one as Pippa and I would say (we’re big Winnie the Pooh fans around here). On Tuesday the 19th, the volume of the wind rose to an all-day and all-night howl. We spent the day watching our neighbor’s roof blow off a shingle or five at a time (ducking out to help clean up, too!) and were without power for over 24 hours. A tricky bit in all this was that we were going out of town from Wednesday to Sunday, and never got power restored before our departure time. A big thanks to friends who lent a helping hand through all the logistics of that situation… “Hey, can you go to my house and run the garbage disposal?” That kind of thing. Our friends are the real ones.
In retrospect, there was more we could have done to save our food, but, weird times, you know. Bottom line is, we ended up having to throw away the contents of our fridge and some of our freezer. The saddest loss there was the Meyer Lemon Gelato that Pippa and I made for our first “Ice Cream Monday” of the year. More on that in a future post; Pie and ice cream are such clearly related topics that I do plan to regularly share our 2021 ice cream escapades with the Peace of Pie audience.
Our destination this time was Cambria, a gorgeous coastal town about four hours north of Los Angeles. Over the last ten years, the Central Coast has become one of my very favorite places on earth and is a favorite vacation spot for both Levi and I. It’s even more fun seen through the wondering eyes of a nearly-three-year-old. God’s beauty. Pine trees, the ocean, playful otters, shiny gorgeous creatures in tidepools. We were blessed with one extremely sunny and warm day in which we kayaked out into the calmest Morro Bay I’ve ever seen. Pippa was a ball of delight in her little pink-and-yellow life jacket.
Back to the pie(s). We didn’t really intend to bring multiple coolers of food (and I didn’t really intend to make two pies in four days), but between us and Levi’s parents (who had also lost power overnight) we arrived at our vacation home with defrosted bags of frozen cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. The solution was fairly obvious.
Let’s give this one the descriptive name of “Frozen Berry Windstorm Pie”. And here is a very cute pic or two of Pippa and her Nana sniffing said Windstorm Pie. A bit of oaty streusel on top completed this dessert. I’d packed the oats for Pip’s breakfasts but they sure came in handy here!
I was more prepared than usual to whip this pie up than I normally would have been outside my home kitchen. I had packed a rolling pin, pie dish, and pastry ingredients, with the intent of crafting a French Canadian Walnut-Maple Syrup Vinegar Pie. This pie immediately follows Sugar Pie in the Pie cookbook; readers may remember that Sugar Pie was the latest addition to the Pie Gallery (made and eaten less than a month ago, for Christmas 2020) so it’s cute that these pies get to be next to each other in my gallery as well as in the cookbook. It’s the little things…
Have you heard of vinegar pie before? Aside from this recipe, my knowledge of vinegar pie largely comes from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Pippa and I have recently been enjoying the “My First Little House” series, which are beautifully illustrated picture books based on the original works. There’s one book where Almanzo goes to the County Fair and the favorite page (like mother, like daughter, I guess…) is of Almanzo eating his heart out in the dining hall, where all the ladies from church are serving a plethora of pies – Vinegar Pie among them. Pippa remembers bits and pieces of what she’s read and regurgitates phrases during play, so it would not be an unusual occurrence to overhear her, for example, setting up a “birthday party” made of bubble wrap and play food and telling her stuffie “Pomegranate Cat” to eat some “Vinegar Pie”. Every day is a new adventure around here.
By the way, you really can’t taste the vinegar. There is an acidic kick to the pie (which contains 1/4 cup orange juice in addition to the couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar), but it really is just there to offset the sweetness and provide a more well-balanced flavor. So, don’t be deterred. It’s lovely…if you enjoy maple syrup (who doesn’t?) and walnuts (less of you, probably). My father-in-law is a huge walnut fan, so I timed this pie to occur at least near-ish to his birthday (which is next week, but he believes in a long birthday season).
Here’s something funny. I have never been the *best* at posting about pies immediately after baking them, so I don’t know that this has happened before…but after I put that last picture in, I remembered that I still had about one sixth of this pie remaining in the fridge, and I went and helped myself to a slice. Yep, there’s that citrus tang in real time. Delightful.
Action items from this post:
Get yourself outside and maybe somewhere near the ocean, if possible. It’s good for the soul and I know our souls are weary these days.
If you’re interested in trying a vinegar pie (you might even have all the ingredients in your pantry already!) here is a similar but slightly different recipe from Ken’s Pie Academy website: Maple Walnut Vinegar Pie. I’d love to hear if you decide to make one yourself!
2021 is upon us, and, arbitrary though it may be, it feels good to move forward. It feels good to set new goals and intentions, to re-dedicate ourselves to our core beliefs and values and relationships, to know that any pain and struggles we experienced in 2020 will carve space for deeper joys to come, if we let them.
This is going to be a long post. The format was the most recent guest baker (aka Levi)’s suggestion so if you get too the end of this and think “THIS WAS TOO. MUCH. PIE.,” you can take it up with him. I was intrigued by the idea of starting my blogging life somewhat afresh in 2021, so I went for it. Without further ado, here is a roundup of eight dessert pies I baked in 2020 that had not yet been blogumented.
Yep, I just made that word up.
Indiana Buttermilk Pie
August 2020. First of three pies from when our friend Matt was in California to visit us for slightly over a week. Three pies in a week, that’s well above my usual pace. To put it in perspective, if that was my standard pace, this project would have been over by 2013. This was my first buttermilk pie (there are three buttermilk pie recipes in Pie) but not my last in 2020, as you’ll see. Simple, basic, uncomplicated flavor. 1 teaspoon of vanilla is the only real flavoring agent, and the tartness of the buttermilk shines straight through. I loved this.
“White” Summer Fruit Pie…sort of!
August 2020. Second of three pies in aforementioned week. We really wanted one of them to be a fruit pie, and Matt (Pie Hype Man) really wanted me to make progress in the cookbook, so we chose this “White” Summer Fruit recipe. It called for Rainier cherries and either white peaches or nectarines. As it turned out, we weren’t able to locate Rainiers so late in the summer, so we followed the recipe exactly but used zero cherries, white Saturn peaches, yellow nectarines, and rhubarb (of which I freeze lots each spring). While it was absolutely divine and we ate it with homemade vanilla ice cream (extra divinity points) my overactive conscience won’t allow me to check this pie off my list until I make it again with Rainier cherries. *Avoids eye contact with Matt, who totally thought this one counted.* But look how pretty!!
Little Crème Brûlée Pies
August 2020. Third of three. Unusual and unforgettable mini pies. My first time making Ken’s “Extra Flaky” pie crust recipe, which calls for cake flour. (Also my first time purchasing cake flour! A few of the pies in this post had ingredients outside the typical realm of my pantry, as you’ll see.) The pastry was lovely to work with and yielded enough for four miniature pie pans, pictured below. After these pies are baked, they are topped with a layer of brown sugar and blow-torched to perfection. I mean, what could be better?
Coconut Cream Pie with Coconut Meringue Topping
October 2020. More ingredients I never hardly ever buy: sweetened flaked coconut and cream of coconut (as in, the stuff in piña coladas, not to be confused with coconut cream aka thicker coconut milk). My cousin Martin’s family visited us for a weekend and I wanted to make a great pie to enjoy all together. When we were growing up and on summertime vacations in Vermont, Martin and I were the little kids who would order coconut almond ice cream without fail when we’d all go to our favorite ice cream shop (our grandparents’ treat). Our shared love of coconut led me to choose this pie for the occasion. Decadent. A coconut lover’s dream come true; yet, not overpowering or artificial in any way.
Three Sisters Coconut Buttermilk Pie
October 2020. Remember that sweetened flaked coconut I’d just bought? Me too…so I looked for another recipe that called for it. Since making the Indiana Buttermilk Pie and absolutely adoring it, I had been looking forward to trying a second buttermilk pie – this was an easy pick. Like a coconut custard pie but with the tang of buttermilk to take it to the next level; a real treat. We shared this pie with our good friends Brad and Deb at our big outdoor table. It seats 18, but we’ve been so grateful for the few times this year that we’ve used it to seat even 4. ❤
Homestead Chess Pie
November 2020. I was looking for something very simple, with pantry ingredients, as I decided to put this pie together at the last minute. This fit the bill: eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, a bit of vinegar and cornmeal. In my last blog post, I mentioned that I made a (correct) executive decision to bake my Tarte au Sucre an extra 15 minutes past the time given in the recipe. I initially took this pie out at 35 minutes (recipe calls for 30-35) but ended up putting it back in the oven later, cause it clearly was underbaked. Yikes. Perhaps my oven does run cold and I am just waking up to this fact? I shall ponder this further. A delightful pie in the end, for all its simplicity. The fifth of the five Chess Pies in Pie – I’ve now exhausted that category. I confess, I did secretly wish this was a Lemon Chess Pie when I was eating it. Levi probably did too because he is Mr. Lemon Dessert.
Crock-Pot Fall Fruit Pie
November 2020. The name above ruins my punch line. Which of the desserts pictured below do you think was my Thanksgiving pie this year? That’s right, it’s the only one that looks nothing like a pie! This oval-shaped semi-imposter, though not what you would expect of me, was a popular and tasty dessert table choice that I’d recommend any of you try. It’s made with baking mix (like Bisquick – I used Birch Benders Organic Classic Pancake and Waffle Mix), fresh cranberries, pears, apples. Super Thanksgiving-y and great with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
Apple and Blueberry Crumb Pie
December 2020. This was an important pie for me. I didn’t follow a recipe. I made it for my dear Linda (Pippa’s former nanny) and her family. My apple pie is Linda’s favorite, my blueberry pie is her daughter’s favorite, and they both love crumb topping. Linda had filled a pie dish with homemade tamales for us shortly before Thanksgiving. After the tamales sustained us for several days, I was left with this empty dish (it says Blessed on the bottom – I’d actually given it to her as a gift the last week she worked for us). I couldn’t picture giving it back like that, so I made this pie while Pippa took an afternoon nap one day. This has been a season of grief, and that was an afternoon when the grief was more present than I realized. There was something so visceral in making that pie with my hands, both painful and healing at the same time. I didn’t expect to react the way I did to peeling and coring the apples, to breaking up clumps of butter with my floury fingers – each familiar step generating a physical heartache – but perhaps I should have. Linda said her whole family agreed it was the best pie they have ever had.
Through that experience, I recognized that pie making has become a way to let my heart speak what is on is mind. It is a path I can walk any time, in any weather. And it is a way I can return blessings on the givers in my life, of whom there truly are many.
Be blessed in 2021, my friends, though it may look different than you expect. Happy New Year!
A few editorial notes:
You probably got this already, but a pie named in bold type is a pie from Ken Haedrich’s Pie baked for the first time. The two fruit pie titles are not in bold, denoting that they aren’t counting towards my count to 300.
While at this moment I’m feeling 96.5% sure that I covered all of 2020’s sweet pies, there were also a couple savory pies I’d like to tell you a bit more about another day. Also, there are still some pies of yesteryear that will occasionally pop into my mind or out of old photos which have yet to claim their rightful place in the gallery. So, if you had any fear that I was completely done with flashbacks…fear not.
Mr. M. Drabenstott — It has come to my attention that you are secluded in a lonely yet beautiful cabin in the Quebecois wilderness and are in need of immediate advice regarding the making of a pie, which, it is presumed, you and only you will be consuming. In addition, your access to provisions is ample but limited; any single recipe I would share might not be able to be followed with precision. I shall hereto set out to provide some guidelines and advice in straightforward and simple language in order to assist you in eating* your quarantine pie as soon as possible, leaving you with a copious amount of time for academic pursuits, Fortnite, and private poetry readings and recitations. *(Rather, beginning to eat, as this pie will last several days, excepting an an act of terrible gluttony.) Please do not hesitate to seek clarification on any of the details below through the medium of text message if assistance is required during the creative process. I am unsure what has possessed me to write this paragraph in such a formal tone. However, if it has provided one extra ounce of amusement to your solitary day, I harbor absolutely no regrets.
Your loving friend,
Mrs. J. Gelineau ——————–
Pastry: Totally just use your pre-made pastries if you have them. If you’d prefer to make your own, this is a very simple recipe that can be made, then immediately rolled and put into a pan. (Most other pastries, which use butter or shortening, require refrigeration). I prefer to roll pastry between two sheets of wax paper, if you have it- it makes it easy to peel off one side once you’re done and lift and invert the whole thing over the pie pan. Otherwise, lightly flour your surface and rolling pin.
Louise Piper’s Oil Pastry: Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Measure 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cold milk (not skim, but whole or 2% is fine) in the same glass measuring cup (if you have one) without mixing the two, then dump it all at once into the flour mixture. Mix briskly, the dough will pull together into a ball. Divide the dough in half, this makes just enough for a double crust pie. You can go straight to rolling out the bottom crust for your pie. If you don’t have a rolling pin, an empty wine or large beer bottle works well. 😉
Filling: I heard you say you have cherries, strawberries, peaches, and one other fruit which is escaping me (blueberries?). I assume you have a standard size pie dish (9 inch). Basically you want to do about 5 cups of fruit unless you’re using strawberries. Those bubble up so much that you probably would want to stick to 4 cups of fruit total or you might have a huge mess in the oven. So add your fruit to a bowl. Peach/cherry is one of my current favorite combos but any combos will be yummy. 🙂 If you have a bigger dish, you can go up to 6 cups of fruit. Add between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of sugar depending on the size of the pie, and 1-2 tsps of lemon juice (if you have it? Or lime, or orange…! Something citrus!) If you have a lemon, a little zest in the filling is nice too. Also can’t go wrong with 1/2 of cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg if you happen to have those things. A little vanilla is nice in peach pies. Combine all of this and let it sit for 10 minutes until you can see visible juices in the bottom of the bowl. Then add to the bowl 2 tablespoons and another spoonful of sugar (premix those in a separate little bowl). Mix until the cornstarch mixture is well incorporated into the fruit. Pour filling into pie crust lined baking dish. Add several small pats of butter scattered around the top of the pie. (Oh- and if you don’t have cornstarch, you could use flour in its place. Maybe 3 TBSP instead of 2…)
Top crust: Get a little bowl of water for your fingers ready. Roll out the top crust. Dip your fingers in water and run a little bit around the edge of the bottom crust, then invert the top crust over the whole pie. Trim the excess pastry to be flush with the edges of the pie pan, then press all around the edges with a fork to bind together, or sculpt together in a ridge. If you have extra pastry, make the shape of a whale and pop that on top. Prick the top crust with a fork several times, including at least once or twice near the edge of the pie. That’s where you will look for bubbling to check doneness – thick juicy bubbles are what you want. If you want, you can sprinkle or brush the top of the pie evenly with milk and a little bit of white sugar.
Baking: Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie 180 degrees so that the part that was facing the back of the oven is now facing front, turn down the temperature to 375 and bake for about 25 more minutes- but start checking earlier for those bubbles, and a golden top crust. Every oven is different!
It would be totally awesome if you could do a guest post with some pictures of your pie escapade on The Peace of Pie. Let me know if you’re keen.
Part Two: A Series of iMessages from Matt to Jess
Matt’s quaran-pie journey begins.
I couldn’t find any pie pans lying around the cabin, so I settled on a casserole dish.
(Which I would later discover has the capacity of 4 pie dishes….)
Per your reco, I mixed frozen peaches and cherries into a bowl. I added few splashes of maple syrup, a pinch or two of cinnamon, some lémon zëst, and of course, a squirt of citrus. (Grapefruit sounded fancy at the time).
As I poured the milk into the oil for the crust, I couldn’t help but think fondly of the lava lamp that I had throughout middle school.
In the absence of a rolling pin and a wine bottle, I used a bottle of Woodford Reserve (would definitely recommend!) to iron out my Pangaea-esque shaped crust.
After adding a few strawberries to the top for a little ‘je ne sais quois’, I scurried to the forest to find some fallen maple leaves, which I used as stencils to create an aptly carved ‘Fall Canadian Foliage’ topper.
Pretty much nailed it.
Shamelessly, I’m already half way finished.
A Bit of Backstory:
Peace of Pie readers may remember my friend and pie hype man Matt from previous posts such as this one. An American currently living in Canada, Matt spent the summer months back in the U.S. of A and thus was required to quarantine for two weeks upon his October re-entry. A classy fellow, Matt chose to make the most of this time by renting a beautiful wilderness cabin in which to work, hold solo poetry readings, and, of course, bake the delightful pie you’ve just read about. Matt is now healthfully back in his primary Canadian residence, and I feel like I’ve just written an author bio for a book jacket. Cheers!
This is the exact thing that these pies are called in my ultimate pie guide to life (Pie by Ken Haedrich, if you’re a new reader…and if so, welcome!) But friends, I am here to tell you: these are not just for the kids.
However, I do highly suggest this as a recipe to make (in part or full, depending on their age) with your kids, if you’re looking for delicious family bonding activities. Here’s what your mini cheesecake pies will look like this if you let a pair of enthusiastic two-year-olds decorate them.
We whipped up these delightful little concoctions over the past weekend, during a short vacation with my cousin’s family to the mountain town of Big Bear Lake, California. The recipe calls for individual store-bought graham cracker crusts. And, I can’t*. So I brought along the jumbo muffin tin and made my own. Grease the muffin tin well and they’ll slide out just fine. I wasn’t sure, but I tested it for you all and you’ve got the green light.
*See multiple other Peace of Pie posts where I enumerate the merits of homemade graham cracker crusts.
Here are some things I learned while making these pies.
If you forget to pack brown sugar, you can make a fine graham cracker crust with regular sugar. It’s something I hadn’t done before. Brown sugar is much nicer because it’s a bit damper and stickier, which helps bind the crumbs together. But it isn’t essential.
If you forget to bring an electric mixer, you can enlist someone with strong arms to whip the filling together. The hardest part is the cream cheese, even if softened. I do suggest using an electric mixer if you’re not at a remote cabin with limited options, this is definitely a last resort tip.
A valid question you could ask at this point if you’d like is, “Did you actually participate in the making of these pies at all, Jess?” Let’s just say it was a team effort, with myself, Levi, Pippa, and her buddy Jack all equally contributing to the creative process.
Here is the most aesthetically appealing photo you’ll find in this post. Pies prior to the toddler decorating party, with a delightfully colorful berry plate in waiting.
Next, an onslaught of cute photos of Pippa and Jack doing what they do best: pretending to decorate with berries while actually scarfing down berries. Okay, Pippa was a way worse offender here than Jack. While Jack was placing a blueberry directly into the center of each pie (with enough force to make the filling squish up towards the ceiling), Pippa was promising to “decorate” with each new berry while literally popping 3/4 of them into her mouth. SO many fakeouts.
The recipe contains numerous other suggestions for how to decorate these pies: Caramel-Nut, Candy Fantasy, Choco-Mallow. Anyone else starting to think about Cheesecake Factory? We kept it simple and fresh this time. What’s your favorite berry to pair with cheesecake? I’m a raspberry girl myself.
My pie-lovin’ heart was super happy to see these cute kiddos each enjoy half of one of the cheesecake pies they had “made themselves”. For those doing math at home, the four adults had no problem polishing off the other five mini pies later that evening. Like I said – not just for the kids.
What will you top your mini cheesecake pies with? Do you have a kid in your life who would love to bake and/or eat these? Lemme know because you know I loooove those sweet comments. And, happy fall to my fellow Northern Hemisphereans. Is it me or does a change in season feel especially good this year?
My sweet strawberry-blond, blue-eyed, thumb-sucking girl turned TWO this summer!
For her first birthday, I made her a blueberry pie.
In her second year of life, I would have to say that her love of blueberries (though still very strong) has been surpassed by her love of strawberries, which she pronounces “SHTRAWBERRIESSSSS,” with both hands up in the air. Sometimes we eat giant California strawberries together, cut them in half, and eat them with the juice dripping down our faces, just like in one of Pippa’s favorite books. I knew that her second birthday needed to be her strawberry birthday.
I loved getting to use my vintage strawberry pie for this 100% strawberry pie. (I have the apple pie plate, too. One day I’ll make the recipes as written on the dishes and let you all know how they turn out.)
I’ll never forget the first time I made Ken Haedrich’s All-Strawberry Pie. It was 10 summers ago, in upstate New York, a couple nights before my friends Colton and Emily got married. I leaked strawberry juice all over the tiny oven at the family cottage, and we ate pie and danced on the boathouse roof overlooking Cayuga Lake. One for the ages.
I put a little birdie cutout on my Baby Bird’s pie. I knew I would be decorating the birthday breakfast table with some backyard bird figurines that she hadn’t seen before, and that we’d do a Sunday School lesson with her cousins that morning about the parable of the mustard seed, which grows into a tree big enough for the birds of the heavens to rest in.
Top crust sprinkled with sugar and milk, just like the recipe says!
Pippa’s second birthday was a day of delicious treats, including tapioca crepes for breakfast in our own backyard, made by my friend Isabella of @bellas_tapiokery. You may remember reading about her in a previous post, Beet Treats. She’s available for some small, private events…just sayin’, peeps in Ventura/Los Angeles county area!!
Pip Pip Hooray! We’ve used this banner now for Pippa’s Welcome to the World party (age 1 month), her 1st birthday party, and her 2nd birthday party. It’s made of map-printed paper and makes me smile every time, thinking about how big and wonderful of a world she is part of.
A couple more drool-worthy crepe photos. Thanks Bella!
This one was unreal. Dulce de leche (homemade by MOI) with fresh peach and grated coconut on a beet tapioca. Hello.
And, back to the strawberry pie. Pippa was able to share part of her birthday celebrations with her big cousins Fletcher and Fallon, who were turning 13 a few days later. They weren’t quite two themselves when they were the cutest tiny wedding attendants in my wedding. Oh, time. ❤
Dear readers, today I am wishing you sweet summer celebrations, patience, kindness, and enjoyment of simple, good gifts. Talk to you in August.
We’re on the road. After three months spent almost solely in our California home, we are on the move. Typically, you’ll find us at various airports over the summer. This year, our trusty Toyota Highlander is getting us from all our point As to point Bs.
The 2020 Gelineau Family Road Trip is brought to you by lots of prayer, Peppa Pig paraphernalia, cucumber facial wipes, Pippa’s portable potty, and a bottle of hand sanitizer in every car door. We have listened to the Daniel Tiger Song “A Tiger Family Trip” at least 65 times.
I’ve logged a few new states, which is exciting for me as someone who keeps a world map with places-visited pins on my mantel. Colorado, Missouri, Kansas. At one point we drove 99 miles past my cell phone, which is a story for another time, but I got it back that same night. Wonder of wonders.
Matt grew up in Kansas City, but doesn’t live there anymore. It felt both surreal and comforting to be together at his childhood home. Anyone else having this problem, where you can’t remember the last time you actually hung out in person with your friends because you’ve been Zooming too much?
As it turns out, Pippa doesn’t love back to back car travel days, so we took a short breather in KC. On the morning of our rest day, Matt said to me, in a way both offhanded and carefully considered, “One thing we could today, if you wanted, is make pie. There’s definitely everything you need to make a pie here.”
After considering the fruit available to me, I chose blackberries, a mixture of blueberries (some larger and fresh, and some smaller Wyman’s frozen wild blueberries), and a few peaches. Then we had a lesson in lattice-weaving. My pie lattice technique (first learned from Ken Haedrich) doesn’t involve meticulous spacing or measuring, but it certainly gets the job done.
Typically I’ll sculpt leftover pie crust around the pie edges to make a ridge, especially for a single-crust pie or a pie with a crumb topping. Sensing that we didn’t need much extra pastry on this one, I cut around the pie plate with a knife, bound the edges together by pressing them with a fork, and donated the extra pastry to Pippa, who, at the time, wanted to use it as play-dough.
In the afternoon we got a brief, Covid-19 Era tour of Kansas City. A few snapshots below. (The internet is not kind these days, but I know you are, my readers. ❤ I’ll say it anyway, just to be clear…we are not dismissing what is happening around us and though the pictures don’t show us wearing masks, we are always masked when it is required and/or when we are walking even remotely near fellow humans. Please trust that in all of our travels we are being as prudent as we know how.)
First stop: Levi’s first and not last E & T (espresso and tonic) experience. So impressed with Thou Mayest. Yes, that is tajín on the rim.
Then, a stop at the imposingly beautiful World War I memorial. I never knew Kansas City had such a skyline.
Boulevard Brewing was a fun destination; I’ve been a fan of their Tank 7 Saison for some years now. We tried several brews including the following “Test Beer”. My jaw dropped open when I read the description. Read along with me carefully now.
“Peach Berry Pie Berliner Weisse – Bursting with peach, blueberry & blackberry over a light graham cracker crust” Wait what?!
Okay yeah it’s not a perfect match (no graham cracker crust for my pie) but still. Spooky.
In the evening, we ate pie and ice cream on the back deck and ogled at/conversed with several barred owls. Whatever else is going on, there is always wonder and inspiration to be found in Creation.
Three Aprils ago, a pie was born in Santiago, Chile. Some pears and some apples lent themselves to the creation, along with, I believe, some blueberries and strawberries, and perhaps another odd fruit that I’m forgetting.
This feels like another lifetime now, in several ways. During our visit to Chile, we probably pinched ourselves daily, saying “WE’RE IN CHILE!” And yet there wasn’t anything terribly surprising about it, not for us; affluent, educated, healthy, non-parents. We marveled at our ability to go to sleep on an airplane and wake up halfway around the world as often as we did it; we marveled that it was…well…easy. Whether or not it should have been. It was just so easy. And now?
It would be easy for me to get caught up in wondering what is next. If we’ll ever leave the U.S.A. again in this lifetime. If so, when. My toddler has been to Spain. She’s been to Canada. Mexico, twice. Traveling feels like part of our nature, and there are places in nearly every continent of the world that are deep deep down in my heart. It is a blessing, a blessing that sometimes makes my heart ache and that I’ve never wanted to trade for anything.
Last night, I was listening to a friend go live on a social media platform. She talked about a perspective she has been trying to take, in light of all the uncertainty we’re entering Summer 2020 with. She shared that, instead of focusing on her sadness at very likely missing out on quality time with family and friends at a beloved second home of a campground, she is trying instead to focus on being grateful that she has something to deeply miss.
In other words, when we have those strong feelings of missing something or someone, it’s a sign or indication that those things are planted very solidly in our heartdepths. And that, in and of itself, is something to be profoundly grateful for.
Tonight, then, I poured a small glass of port and sat down here at my laptop to share with you a few photos of this trip to Chile that we’ve been reminiscing about QUITE a lot recently. Just thinking about it brings me such joy. We coordinated our travel with our friend Matt (who now lives in Canada), were visiting our friends Shaye and Andrew and Brydyn (who are all from New Zealand), and made a new friend, Rosie (who, along with her husband, just made it to her new temporary home in Bolivia before the borders closed due to COVID-19).
These are just some really home-y photos. I have photos from Pablo Neruda’s house, from Santiago’s incredible restaurants and wine shops, from mountaintop monuments, the beach, the Andes mountains, a nearby pottery village. But that’s not where we are right now, physically and mentally. Do you know what I mean? The memories of those adventures feed my soul, no doubt. But what I’m pulling out from my heartdepths right now are not tourist destinations. I’m pulling out feelings of togetherness. I’m pulling out memories of beautiful home cooked meals and a round of Pisco sours and a cat sleeping on a dining room chair and KIDS that keep us all in a state of delight.
As we’ve been singing a lot with Pippa: I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.
Angel Pie with Berries, Cream, and Custard is the “real” name of the showstopper featured in this blog post, but Dragonfruit Sea Creature Angel Pie is so much more descriptive and enticing, don’t you think? Let me show you how it was done.
First, let’s define “angel pie”. I’m still trying to figure out what the technical difference is between an angel pie and a pavlova…both feature a large meringue base as the main event. From what I have seen, angel pies typically are filled with a cream filling (like my Grandmother’s Chocolate Angel Pie) while pavlovas feature mainly fruit. This particular angel pie is meant to be filled with both whipped cream and fruit and topped with a sweet Creme Anglaise sauce made with lots of egg yolks (genius, when you need so many whites for the meringue!)
During our 8 month stay in Los Angeles, I only made one “new” pie from Ken Haedrich’s cookbook Pie while AT our apartment (the others were all made during travels). There’s something poetic about an angel pie living on in memory as the pie of the City of Angels.
The meringue is shown above, ready to be baked low and slow. Forming a shape out of meringue, even if it’s just a basic bowl shape, is something I find tricky yet enjoyable. The texture is just so wild. It’s hard to believe that egg, sugar, and cream of tartar can turn into this pliable, bouncy, expansive substance. I also pretended that I was on The Great British Bake-Off while I was preparing this base. Paul Hollywood probably wouldn’t have been pleased with my final product, as there was a slightly visible hairline fracture, but I was pleased enough.
As usual, my biggest pie-making challenge is timing. I rarely leave hours in between stages of baking as suggested, as the need to eat the pie always seems pressing…but I let this base cool as long as humanly possible before filling and decorating.
As far as the decorating, I can take very little, if any, credit. This pie was for our dear friend Matt’s birthday. He had been visiting us in LA for a week and we made the pie on the last night of his stay (which we wished we could extend indefinitely/forever). Matt is one of my top pie sous chefs, a sculptor, and a lover of whales and giant squids, so naturally he set to work carving intricate sea creatures out of dragonfruit purchased from the Japanese market across the way.
Another artistic touch by Matt…halving blackberries to line the pie’s border. Excellent.
Here we see the pie really coming together–the basin has been filled with homemade whipped cream, waves of berries are crashing from within, extending over the shore, and a dragonfruit sea turtle surfaces for a quick hello.
Finished creation featuring four sea creature friends: a whale, a turtle, a seahorse, and a starfish.
I am not embarrassed to report that the four people eating pie that night (I’m not counting the baby-Levi’s mom helped us out, his dad having decided that chocolate ice cream from Salt and Straw was more his speed than Dragonfruit Sea Creature Angel Pie) decided to simply quarter the whole thing and FULLY consumed it in one sitting. All that was left over was some of the Creme Anglaise, which I totally forgot to take pictures of, but which we did enjoy drizzled onto our pie quarters, as well as on Matt’s birthday breakfast pancakes the next morning.
I can’t help but smile every time I think about Dragonfruit Sea Creature Angel Pie. Thanks Matt for the ways in which you light up our life. ❤
By this past Christmastime, I had moved fully into maternity jeans and baby Gelineau was rolling with multiple nicknames. We know she is a girl now, but at the time we weren’t sure, so we bounced back and forth between Geliniño, Geliniña (we hope she’ll learn Spanish) and Jelly Baby, once I found out that those were a thing.
We were blessed to be able to spend time back on the East Coast this holiday season. Besides the obvious joys of Christmas with friends and relatives, we also had a beautiful wedding to attend on the 28th of December (officiate, in Levi’s case) and my younger cousin Daniel put on the saving name of Christ through baptism on Christmas Eve. Amazing!
On Sunday morning, before the baptism, my “Aunt” Chris walked into church carrying a picture perfect pie festooned with red ribbon. I assumed it was part of the morning refreshments that would be served in between Sunday School and the Memorial Service (“Coffee And” as it’s called in New Jersey), but instead she handed it to me, saying, “Congrats, Honey. I made you a pregnancy pie.”
The “pregnancy pie” turned out to be Aunt Chris’ specialty: a fresh cranberry and walnut filled pie with a gooey, sugary layer right above the filling and below the top crust. I have no idea how to make it. I’ve never made a pie like it. It’s super magical.
Being a known pie baker, there’s always something very special about when someone else makes you a pie. ❤
As it turns out, even when you’re pregnant, it’s not in good taste to eat a pie by yourself. We were able to share it over the most hilarious round of Saboteur I’ve ever played. Hilarity largely thanks to cousin Nate and his wild accusations.
Our Christmas Eve pie had been lovingly provided, and it was my turn to make a pie for Christmas Day. I decided to go with Cherry Custard Pie for this occasion, knowing that there were lots of good, fresh, backyard eggs to be found at my Uncle Alan and Aunt Ruthanne’s house.
Trader Joe’s pulled through again; while the pie instructions let the baker know that it is acceptable to use either canned sweet cherries or fresh sweet cherries, I was very pleased with their JARRED Dark Morello Cherries that I’m not sure why I’m advertising to you now because I’ll bet they’re only stocked around Christmas time. (I could be wrong. You should still try to find them if you want to.) The recipe doesn’t say this explicitly, but I would imagine frozen cherries would be a bad idea and make little pools of water amongst the custard. You’ll see what I mean shortly.
This recipe also calls for an optional addition of kirsch, Grand Marnier, or triple sec. No one wants to buy bottles of those things unless they’re already hanging around, am I right? But since there was Kijafa on hand, I threw a splash of that in instead. (The only reason I’ve even heard the word Kijafa before? Our favorite pancake house in NJ has Cherry Kijafa Crepes on the menu, and it’s been my cousin Leanna’s go-to order since she was little. I’m thinking she has tried to replicate them at home? This is at least a feasible explanation for having this very obscure tipple on hand.)
Here’s the really fun part of this recipe. After filling the crust with custard, the cherries get dropped in evenly, gently, throughout the whole pie! The effect is awesome.
Once the pie has been thoroughly polka-dotted with cherries, it’s baked until set (like any custard pie), cooled, and chilled.
We woke up on Christmas morning to snow (albeit light), which is always the dream. Christmas was spent trying to eat as much delicious antipasti as humanly possible and playing Family Feud (at which Nana was not half bad).