Oh The Places We’ve Been

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Ah, for the first week of March 2020. When the borders were open and you could have visits from international friends. When it was totally cool to kick around Downtown Los Angeles, when all our favorite little shops and historic buildings and beloved restaurants were open for business. When we really had no idea what the next month would bring.

I know we miss it.

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Now: Apolis is partnering with Baby2Baby and selling customizable printed face masks that help provide diapers to families in need. https://store.apolisglobal.com

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Now: Manuela is still open for takeaway and delivery.                                             http://www.manuela-la.com/takeawaymenu

That being said, I really don’t want to express anything but deep gratitude for what we do have, now. All the most precious gifts remain, the greatest of which is love (hope is a pretty close second). Another gift we have been enjoying lately is a wealth of amazing memories, and time to actually relive them. I’ve printed some photos lately, which I NEVER seem to manage in normal-paced times.

Before “Safer At Home”/”Quarantine”/Whatever You’re Calling It began, the Gelineau house guest room had been occupied by a succession of friends for several weeks straight (maybe one night or two empty). Soooo that was pretty amazing timing for us. I’m talking literally the day our last February/March guest left (our friend Amy from Ontario, Canada) was March 10th which is when things really started getting weird in Southern California. On Monday we were questioning why Amy’s boss would want her to work from home for a few days upon her return. By Saturday, life as we know it was canceled, canceled, canceled.

We had some really beautiful adventures that first week of March, including a short glamping trip to Morro Bay, In Which We Learned That Pippa Is Much Too Excited To Fall Asleep At Night In the “Big Car”. She liked breakfasting though.

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And picking ice plants on the beach. (Wait, is this blog about pie, or Pippa?)

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And visiting the town of Harmony, Population 18. Side note someone please get married in this chapel and invite me.

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On the last day of Amy’s visit, we took it easy. Watched Levi play softball, baked a pie, read books in the sunny backyard. See, you knew there would be pie eventually.

Sometimes Pippa wears both a seasonally-inappropriate apron AND rain boots when she assistant bakes. So, that’s really good news.

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Dense Cherry-Almond Coffeecake Pie was our pie of the moment; Amy had named cherries as one of her preferred pie ingredients. As fresh cherries wouldn’t have been available, we used thawed dark pitted sweet cherries to fill a pre-baked crust, then poured in a liquid filling made from ground almonds, eggs, sour cream, and almond extract (in addition to the usual suspects such as butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, salt).

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I am always quite pleased when I get to have the honor of being the first person someone has ever made a pie with. Everyone, it’s official. Amy Hill can bake pies now. I taught her everything I know. You’re welcome.

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The verdict? It’s delicious. Eat it with a little vanilla ice cream (or with a cup of coffee if you’re into the whole breakfast pie situation, which, who isn’t) but for goodness sake pay attention to the fact that this pie has the word DENSE in its title and cut reasonably sized pieces. (I’m talking to myself here in case you didn’t pick up on that.)

No joke, you can’t eat as large of a piece as you think you can. A slice of this pie is practically a meal replacement, thanks to the mighty almond.

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Amy, in retrospect, this Coffeecake pie really was the perfect choice, out of the 140-odd recipes we could have picked; it reminds me of all the times you ordered some kind of coffee ice cream and I ordered some kind of berry/cherry ice cream. I know coffee wasn’t an actual ingredient, but there’s some great symbolism in having the words “coffee” and “cherry” in the name of your first pie. Love it. ❤

P.S. To everyone else, yes, I really do mean “all the times”. We ate a lot of ice cream. She was here for a full week okay?

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Now: Salt and Straw shops have temporarily closed. Breaks my heart. They’re still shipping a limited number of flavors, with a delayed fulfillment time. https://saltandstraw.com

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Can’t wait for it to be time for some good old-fashioned in-person game nights again. Until then, I wish you all lots of virtual chats, socially distanced walks, hangouts, House Parties or whatever the cool kids are doing these days, as well as delicious things to eat in the comfort of your homes. Message me if you need anything at all. Lots of love. x

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Jelly Pie

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Hello friends. I hope you’re all keeping well. The last several weeks have (strangely enough) held many moments of connection and encouragement for our family, including virtual church services, long video chat catch ups with faraway friends, and also just good quality time (and lots of it) among the three of us. I feel the weight of those who are sick or are caring for the sick, for those spending too much time in unhappy homes, and for those who are in uncertain economic situations…I could go on. I am sure all of this is on your mind also. Let’s all think of new ways we can reach out to those around us with love every day, within the confines of our current norm.

As is the way, we’ve been going out to grocery shop as little as possible. When we do, we are still so blessed in the variety of beautiful fresh food available to us. I am finding my local farm market to be a great place to go (especially first thing in the morning!)

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But even with the abundance of fresh fruit and veg available to us, I did have a thought that this might be a good time to make a pie that features an ingredient I have looked for in multiple stores and never found…and I’m talking BEFORE coronavirus was a household term. Since I’d have to buy this ingredient online at some point, why not now?

This mystery ingredient I’m talking about is Red Currant Jelly, in order to make a (logically named) Red Currant Jelly Pie. I’d like to take a moment to congratulate this pie for being the first in a long time to force me into creating a brand new “category” for a blog post. Because honestly, it doesn’t fit into any of those I’ve created already…it’s close to, but not actually sugar pie…not quite legitimately summer fruit pie…nary a cream, custard, or chiffon involved…so now I have a Jelly Pie category all of its own.

Ken Haedrich is a wonderful writer and I love the detailed descriptions of various pie origins he includes in his cookbook. This was one of those times though that I gotta say Ken left me with more questions than answers. This sentence right here, “Jelly Pie is a relative of transparent pie.” And…? What, pray tell, is a transparent pie? Should I start another post category now?! How closely related are they; cousins? Mother and child? More research is needed on this front.

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Here’s my cute kumquat-eating baby pie blog model, I hope she makes you smile. Some days she’s helpful in the kitchen. This day she was feeling helpful and I let her taste the jelly (in between kumquat bites).

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Sidebar: If I ever were to figure out how to make a kumquat pie, Pippa would be thrilled. (Sidebar of Sidebar, Levi did make kumquat marmalade last night. He’s never made marmalade before. This is one of those things that’s partly related to having more forced time at home but also totally something he would have done anyway.)

ANYWAY here’s what the filling (a lot of butter, sugar, eggs, some cornmeal, and lemon juice, along with the red currant jelly) looks like when you’re beating it.

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I made a mistake in the order of ingredients added, which sometimes happens when you have a 1 3/4 year old as your sous chef; namely, adding eggs prior to the liquefied jelly rather than after. I worried myself that the filling’s consistency wouldn’t be right as a result. But, having never made a pie of the jelly pie category before, I wouldn’t really have known what I expected to see in the first place. Spoiler alert, everything was fine.

As promised in the book description, the surface caramelized towards the end of baking, resulting in an almost crème brûlée type of situation. Really worth noting if you’re going to try baking this pie yourself; ten minutes before it’s done, you peek at it and it’s a strange pale color and you think it’s nowhere near done. And then within a short time the entire surface changes completely and looks harder, darker, and much more “finished”. A magical transformation.

I.e. a chemical transformation. Cause chemistry is magical.

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Serve with whipped cream, unsweetened. It’s important. A cup of tea, too. Maybe a 2-4 player card game.

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Levi described the flavor of this pie as similar to a key lime pie, in that there is both sweetness and tartness. So perhaps that’s the true relative here. Step aside, “transparent pie”, whatever you are.

Have a beautiful day, get some sunshine and fresh air if you can, and maybe bake something delicious. Peace be unto you.

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Nostalgia Pie

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How are you, my friends? This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic, and right about now, it seems like we’re all longing for days in the past…even a few weeks or a few months in the past. I am doing my best (though I’m not always succeeding perfectly) to cast my cares on the Lord, be responsible and thoughtful of others, and focus on the unexpected blessings that come from suddenly having many canceled plans. I recognize that not everyone has extra time on their hands. Many of you are working much longer hours and/or under more stress than usual. So it is only my experience (maybe shared by a few of you) that I am speaking to when I say, I’m getting around to doing some things that I’ve literally been meaning to do for YEARS. Like, for example, updating my Pie Gallery page.

Check it out; there are still 2-3 pies that have been buried in time that I still need to go back and excavate stories for, so the number is for sure actually past 150. A little disappointing that I can’t nail down yet exactly which pie was the HALFWAY PIE, I’ll announce that exciting information when I’ve solved the mystery for myself. But, what I do know for sure is that I’m over HALFWAY DONE with my 300 pie journey. (Cue applause.) If anyone was curious, my current goal is to finish the book by the time I’m 40, and have a birthday party to which you are invited and for this party I will make the final five pies so that none of them gets the honor/disgrace of being chosen last.

Now for the pie at hand; a pie that was actually baked nearly two years ago now. Chocolate-Cherry S’mores Ice Cream Pie.

I thought I’d try something a little different this time, gettin’ fancy here. The slideshow below tells this story in a nice way, a better way than my typical format would tell this particular story (i.e. It’s the 4th of July. Maggie and Wendy make a pie from my cookbook with some orchestration but little help from Jess, José feeds everyone Spanish-cut Sandia/watermelon, Pippa is the star of the show and gives the pie her best side-eye glances, Sara and Levi are not pictured and it’s no wonder because Levi fainted at 3 am that day and long story short everything is okay but he now has many staples in his head and nurse Sara had to calm everyone down.)

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Footnotes/Other bits of memory:

  • It was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit every dang day that week. Ice cream pie was so so so needed.
  • José also went running every day that week. Consider in light of above detail. Wild.
  • I think I actually did make the Joe-Joe (Sub for Oreo) Crust myself. But also I gave birth three weeks before this pie was made and do not stand by any of my memories.
  • None of these pictures can be real because Pippa was nevvver that tiny (says the mom of the almost-two-year-old with a wail).
  • To make a vegan version of this pie (which we did), use Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, make sure your marshmallows are vegan, and skip the Warm Mocha Sauce in the topping (it’s optional to the recipe anyway). You can use chocolate covered graham crackers or make your own. Making your own, it’s also easier to ensure that the melted chocolate you use is dairy-free.
  • The topping is supposed to be marshmallow creme. Turns out it’s much harder to find vegan marshmallow creme than vegan marshmallows and hence the creative topping you see in the photos (melted chocolate drizzle and calligraphy, broiled marshmallow hunks, chocolate dipped Joe-Joes).
  • We always have great vegan pies with Wendy. 🙂 Here’s another one. Bonus below, a cute picture of Wendy, Pippa and I much more recently at Magpies Softserve in Silver Lake eating Maple Banana and Peanut Butter Chocolate vegan ice cream pies to end all ice cream pies. If you get on their website and start drooling (and if you’re somewhat local) I’m sure they, like all small businesses, would appreciate it if you impulse bought a pie for pick-up. Just a thought!

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Stay well, stay safe. Angels are real. Talk to you all again soon.

Savor

Last year, “Savor” was my theme word. I wanted to remind myself to live in the moment, to enjoy my surroundings, my people, to not worry too far ahead of myself. Savor also makes me think of eating delicious things, which is a worthy goal anytime as far as I’m concerned.

This year, my theme word is “Room”. Back in November, I resigned from a job that I had loved and poured my energy into for about ten years. So, I have some more room in my life now. Room to grow, room to say yes to new things and things I’d had to lay aside for a time. And the theme has multiple meanings; I’m also working with the physical rooms that are in my care, working to make them child-friendly and exploration-worthy and to set them up as places of peace and hospitality for us and for our loved ones.

I’m still savoring though. That word didn’t expire for me. I just started reading a book called Savor, thematically. It’s a collection of devotions by Shauna Niequest, and it’s awesome and makes me cry. My best friend introduced it to me, and I’m so glad she did. Yesterday over lunch with my regular lunch date, Miss Pippa G, I read a devotion titled “This is It”, and it hit me hard.

“I believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens.”

My days lately can feel very, well, everyday. And most days I am super happy about that. Because, really, this is it. In the best possible way.

I take a lot of walks with this little bug.

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And people have been asking if I have more time to make pie now, and…well, yes, of course I do…but it’s during naps and after bedtime most of the time, as my young apprentice very much wants to do whatever I am doing during waking hours and she doesn’t quite have her pie finesse down yet. So sometimes in the interest of a pie actually turning out well, I have to save it from her “help”. Although I’m saying that and today she did help me “touch” a pie crust around the edges and “pushed” on the rolling pin a bit as I was rolling a leftover pastry. So, she’s getting there. Maybe one day we can open a mommy daughter pie shop. Only if she wants to.

These days, when I am going to try a brand new pie recipe, I’m gravitating towards recipes like Ken Haedrich’s 10-Minute Lemon Meringue Icebox Pie, for obvious reasons. Granted, it took me closer to 30 minutes all said and done, because I refuse to buy graham cracker crusts pre-made (you guys HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUSTS ARE SOO GOOD I’VE SAID IT ONCE AND I’LL SAY IT 100 TIMES). But still, a very reasonable amount of time. I have room in my life for scooping a jar of store-bought lemon curd into a crust while keeping my other eye on my baby who’s wandering around the house with twenty small purses (her current fave activity), yes I do.

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You can fake a lemon meringue pie filling, but you can’t fake the actual meringue. 100% real deal meringue magic here.

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A real treat sharing this pie with our friends Jim and Rachel. I don’t particularly recommend pairing this pie with red wine. The scene was leftover from our pasta dinner. 😉

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Thanks for staying on this journey with me!

Wishing you a beautiful everyday sort of day.

Beet Treats

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Happy February! ‘Tis the season to talk about our favorite pink vegetable. An unlikely Valentine is the brilliant beet, but a sweeter treat you’ll never meet. (Rhyming intended.)

Or how about this one…

Roses are red, Violets are blue,

If you cook me some beets,

All my dreams will come true.

My friend Isabella (Find her on Instagram @bellas_tapiokery) actually did cook me some beets this past week. She makes Brazilian-style tapioca crepes – chewy, crispy, and delightful- with the most delicious fillings. The prettiest are those in which the tapioca flour has been rehydrated with beet juice. Check it out! (By the way, the crepes pictured below have savory fillings, but she also makes a beet crepe filled with bananas and homemade brigadeiro – a sauce made from condensed milk and chocolate powder and MAN ALIVE.)

Reasons to love beets: they’re high in vitamins such as iron and Vitamin C, they’re versatile, they have a vibrant, naturally deep pink color (have you ever seen a candy beet? Even prettier, and more delicious than sugary V-Day candy.)

Alright, I’m really done waxing romantic now. Fortunately for you, my part in this post will be short(ish) and (if you’ll forgive my puns) sweet. I have yet to make a beet pie, but my friend Rosemary recently left a comment letting me know that she’d made a “chocolate beetroot* tart with chili maple sauce” and I just immediately felt that it was imperative for all of us to know more. I’m thrilled to introduce Rosemary; she’s here as a special guest to tell us the tale. If you enjoy her writing (which I’m fairly certain you will) you can also dive into her decidedly lovely blog, Cheap and Cheerful Life.

Take it away, Rosemary!

*P.S. Here’s where Beet turns into Beetroot, your first clue that Rosemary is not from the U.S. of A.

Hello readers of Jessica’s blog! Nice to meet you ☺ and a massive thank you to Jessica for inviting me to be a guest writer on her blog. 

I first met Jessica in South Africa in 2008, which is exactly where you’d expect an Australian and an American to meet! If I had known she had a thing about pies I would have talked to her about milk tart, a South African specialty I had tried the week before. As it was, it wasn’t until she posted a link to this blog on Facebook that I found out about her pie fascination.

I had made mention to Jessica about the chocolate beetroot tart in a comment on one of her most recent posts – and as you would expect from a true pie aficionado, she enquiredfurther.

But hang on – we’re talking about pies – and this is a tart – and what’s the difference anyway? Well, I thought about it, and I concluded a pie has a lid and a tart does not. Which seemed to work until I remembered about Banoffee Pie, which has too much cream on it to have a lid – so there went that theory. (Note from Jess: Click here if you aren’t sure what Banoffee Pie is!)

But pies always have a story, and tarts do their best to be even more dramatic, and so it is with the chocolate beetroot tart. So without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, is its story:

“The stolen pie recipe”

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Because, I am actually a recipe thief, as I have confessed in this blog post

Here, in Australia, we have the Melbourne Cup – flagged as “The race that stops the nation”. It is akin to the Kentucky Derby (which is the only American horse race I know of) and has a mere $AUD 4 mill prize, so I guess it’s a big deal!

Over time, it has evolved into an event where lots of people go out to lunch, (despite not living in Melbourne), have a little flutter and watch the race. At work, we do too (and who am I to refuse a free lunch?). We venture out to a nearby hotel with our fancy hats, armed with our new vocabulary of ‘trifecta’, ‘lengths’, ‘noses’ and other suitable words for the day.

A few years ago at this particular luncheon, I had a delicious tart for dessert – chocolate beetroot tart with chili maple sauce, Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries. Are you drooling yet? I sure was!! It was so delicious.

And then in a fit of madness I thought, “Hey, I wonder if I could make this tart.” 

So I contacted the hotel to ask if it was possible to have the recipe … pretty please with raspberries cherries on top.

A few days later a scanned copy of the handwritten recipe came my way. Because believe it or not, chefs are chuffed when someone loves their recipe so much that they ask for a copy. I’ve asked a few times for a recipe and it’s always been a yes. Champions!

It took a little while for an appropriate occasion to arise that befitted such a fancy tart, but finally, the recipe and I met one another in the kitchen Christmas 2018. After all, it felt like it should be a very fancy occasion kind of tart. Nobody at lunch guessed the mystery ingredient, partly because I didn’t have a suitable puree-ing thing, so the beetroot ended up shredded, somewhat like desiccated coconut, rather than silky smooth!

Take two last year was more successful in terms of getting the right texture, so having signed it off as a success, I will leave it to rest for a little while. You’re more than welcome to read further of my experiments in life at “Cheap and Cheerful Life”. After all, there are lots more exciting recipes to try. ☺

But for now, for this to be a proper Peace-of-Pie post, I should give you a summary of the tart’s content, and bid you farewell.

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Chocolate beetroot tart: a chocolate crumb biscuit base, chocolate ganache combined with beetroot puree, reduced balsamic vinegar and infused chillies, topped with a maple syrup and infused chili sauce. Served with Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries.

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Apples and Olives

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It’s not what you’re thinking.

This post is so named, not because I put olives in a pie. Olive oil would be a yes, but olives, nah…unless we’re talking empanadas, which we aren’t. Not today, at least.

It is so named because we had a Saturday back in October in which we* harvested our olive tree and with many extra hands, pitted, crushed, and after a series of interesting events which included the realization that a centrifuge was needed, came up with about half a bottle of olive oil.

Asterisk on the we*: while Levi led the olive brigade, I hung with Pippa and her second cousins, Kaelie Marie and Audrie OLIVE! And I made an apple pie so as to provide a more immediate reward for the monotonous labor taking place at our back table (thanks to Sam, Jeff, Martin, Jess, and Ben!).

I’d recently come into a stash of bison tallow and beef tallow (remember my claim in the last post, I have never bought lard. Still true.) You’ll notice in the photos of the crust (the last two photos in this post) that using half tallow, half butter in the pastry resulted in a somewhat cracked, harder pastry than usual. The flavor was very good, but the texture was nowhere near what a pork lard crust flakes like. As an aside, if you found this paragraph remotely interesting, you may enjoy this NY Times article about how various fats manifest in baked pastry (I did).

Lard vs. Tallow. Do you know what difference there is, if any? I didn’t. According to my research, they’re the same thing (animal fat) but the terminology has to do with the animal that the fat is derived from. Tallow usually means we’re talking beef/mutton/cowlike animals. Now you know! If you knew already, or have anything to add or any previous experience cooking with tallow, leave a comment; I’d love to learn more! Seems like tallow is much more rarely used for pie crust and more so used for frying foods or non-cooking-related enterprises such as soap-making or candle-making.

I hope you enjoy the following photos from a day filled with hard work and an education in olive oil making, all made enjoyable in the presence of family, friends, and feasting.

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Pieyonara!

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While I have a few favorite scapegoats for the fact that for the past several years I’ve been hovering right around 150/300 pies completed from my Pie cookbook, my favorite favorite goes something like this.

“Well, I love using fruit that’s in season, and I’ve pretty much already made every fruit pie in the book…it’s all those chiffon and ice cream pies and so on that I never seem to get to…and it always seems like a waste to NOT make pie out of fruit I have around (DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND LOGANBERRIES?!) so I end up just making up my own fruit pies. So, please believe me, I AM making pie, just not making progress towards my 300 pie goal.”

It is pretty accurate.

But, for this story, I am proud to say, that I found a never-before-made double crust fruit pie recipe in Pie for which I did not need to find loganberries or marionberries or any other such nonsense. Georgia Orcutt’s Thanksgiving Dried Fruit Pie. Yes, it contains only readily available dried fruits (Bing cherries, apples, prunes, and apricots), which get stewed and simmered back to life in a pot of apple cider before melding with walnuts, lemon juice, sugar, and butter to become a unique and quite delicious final showpiece.

Why, you may ask, did I need this particular pie to be a double crust fruit pie? Well, I had come into possession of some very high-quality lard, hand-rendered by friends, and Ken Haedrich, in his lard pie crust recipe, notes that lard is a particularly good choice for a double crusted fruit pie. With an ingredient on hand that produces an impossibly flaky and perfect crust, it would be a mistake to fiddle around with distractions like crumb or streusel toppings. Let the crust shine. The more of it, the better.

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A word on lard. I have never bought it in a grocery store. I probably never will. I was a vegetarian for six years. I will probably never be a vegetarian again. All this is to say, I care deeply about my food, and I like to know where it comes from. And if you knew the pig, (or the bear, for that matter) and it’s been killed for meat, and the fat is available as another useful product, I’m all about using it to create something delicious that can be enjoyed and that will give nutrients to the eater. (The pig that provided this particular jar of lard was one was raised at nearby Apricot Lane Farms. Thanks and respect.) And speaking of apricots…

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You guys, now that I have a baby, it takes DAYS to make a pie. One to make crusts, one to prep ingredients, and one to hastily assemble it and get it in the oven before naptime’s over.

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Here comes that apple cider action. About ten minutes of simmering on the stovetop and lots of stirring, and the dried fruit is nicely re-hydrated.

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And here’s the regularly scheduled Trader Joe’s product plug you have come to love and expect from peace-of-pie.com.

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Walnuts coming in for the win.

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As I was rolling out this crust I was immensely pleased with the texture and knew it was going to turn out great. And that’s saying something. As Levi will attest to, even though I’ve made hundreds of pies at this point, I usually utter a few deprecating comments during the baking process (“This isn’t sticking together the way I want it to.” “It’s a little overdone.” “I should have left that in the oven for another five minutes.”) Silly, but true. Usually when I taste the pie I sheepishly agree that it’s totally fine (no, usually more than fine). Anyway…total confidence this time.

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I texted the picture of the finished pie to our friends Johnny and Andy (the gifters of the lard) and told them I had made them a pie-o-nara pie and that they needed to come over and have some. They did, although it was later discovered that pie-o-nara was lost in translation/texting. Say it out loud. What do you think it means?

I updated the spelling of this made up word in the name of the post. Pieyonara. Sayonara. I think it’s more accurate. For a made up word. Johnny and Andy are heading out to some beautiful parts of the West and Southwest in their amazing renovated van for the first half of the year, so this pie was a little farewell for now.

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More about Dried Fruit Pie. This pie is hearty and filling, truly a meal in and of itself. Ken Haedrich’s description speaks of the pie being present in Georgia Orcutt’s family’s Thanksgiving weekend pie buffet (in other words, they have a table of pies laid out that are available all weekend, and that can be eaten at any time, even for breakfast. Doesn’t that sound like a great tradition?)

This pie goes well with wine. Or, slightly warmed, with tea or coffee, in the morning.

Andy is a stellar hand model.

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Happy New Year to all, and have a beautiful day.

The More, the Merrier

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Good morning my friends,

I am honored to have been recently featured on my friend Jolie’s blog, The Forgetful Files. Jolie is a freelance writer (currently working on a novel), a mom of five, and generally amazing human being. I highly recommend checking her blog out if you enjoy tales of real life family adventures (and foibles, as Jolie puts it!)

This weekend I’ll be baking up some Five Spice Pear-Apple Pies in Jars, and one will be heading towards Mark Ishman from Texas, whose little rhyming ditty of a comment on Jolie’s post Pie Giveaway Time made him a winner! (Check out all the comments on this post, there are several poetic gems present.) For the recipe, read the Sweet As Pie Winner follow up post.

Since my sleeves will be rolled up to bake and I’ll be braving the post office during Holiday season ANYWAY, I’ve decided: The More, the Merrier. Here’s another chance to win a Pie-in-a-Jar! Any comments left on this post before Friday (December 13th) at 9 pm PST/12 am EST will be put into a vessel (likely a pie jar) and a name drawn at random…for winner #2!

For fun…in your comment, will you please tell me either 1) your favorite pie 2) a pie you baked or ate for Thanksgiving 3) a pie you plan to bake or eat this holiday season (presumed Five Spice Pear-Apple Pie excluded ;)) 

Here’s a picture of the fourth pie – the apple pie – that my family ate this Thanksgiving week (is it cheating that my mom made it, not me?)

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I look forward to hearing from you and selecting a second Pie-in-a-Jar Giveaway Winner!

Happy Holidays, be easy on yourself, and get enough rest! ❤

Old Favorites

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Dear friends,

I have new stories to share. Stories about olive harvesting with toddlers and bison lard pie crusts. Stories about champagne grapes, Minnesota fall fruit bounties, family bonds (biological and otherwise), fake Instagram celebrity chefs, first birthday parties, National Park excursions. We’ll get there. For now, suffice it to say: I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving, and I’m eager to know what pies you ate this weekend. Please tell me in a comment on this post!

We just got back from visiting my parents in Georgia for Thanksgiving, and I am not ashamed or embarrassed to report that we ate at least one piece of pie per day for six days in a row (four pies to four adults and one baby, so, a pretty reasonable ratio). This time I didn’t knock out any new recipes from Pie (Ken Haedrich’s exhaustive cookbook, which I’m baking my way through; you can see my progress in the Pie Gallery). I chose instead to revisit a few old favorites.

Maple Pecan Pie: Maybe because my dad’s always been partial to a pecan pie, this is the third Georgia Thanksgiving that the Maple Pecan has made an appearance; I’ve also baked this one for my work team, to much approval.

Five-Spice Winter Squash Pie: Butternut squash available from the garden made this seasonally-appropriate pie an obvious choice. And a word about five-spice powder; seriously an underused and underrated ingredient, in my opinion. I just love the little licorice shout out (fennel and star anise are two of the five spices). I say that as someone who loves all things licorice, but for those of you on the other side of the licorice fence, fear not; the flavor doesn’t seem to be strong enough to chase away licorice haters (after all, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper round out the blend).

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That’s two, but I did mention a total of four pies earlier. My mom made an apple pie with an olive oil crust earlier in the week. We also enjoyed a pumpkin pie (pictured above) made with a recipe from my great-Aunt Sally, who we recently said goodbye to. The traditional apple and pumpkin pies alongside the slightly more jazzy pies mentioned above made for a very well-rounded line-up.

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Happy holiday season to all, and don’t forget to share what kinds of pie made your Thanksgiving lineup in the comments! Talk to you soon.

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Dragonfruit Sea Creature Angel Pie

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Another artistic touch by Matt…halving blackberries to line the pie’s border. Excellent.

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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.

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Finished creation featuring four sea creature friends: a whale, a turtle, a seahorse, and a starfish.

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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.

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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. ❤