Make Mine Apple

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“Make Mine Apple” is the title of the Apple Section of Ken Haedrich’s cookbook Pie, the compendium I’ve been slowly inching my way through over the past ten years. As you can imagine, this is an important part of the book (Apple has got to be the most common answer for “Type of Pie” if you’re playing Family Feud, right?!) While I’m only roughly halfway through making every single pie in the cookbook (152/300), I’ve now made 18/25 of the pies under the heading “Make Mine Apple”. And P.S. there are some scary ones in this section that are yet to come. (Hint: Ketchup.)

To really hammer this point home, here’s a throwback link to a post from 2012 where I talk about how I’m running out of apple pie recipes (!)

All that being said, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to baking this very NOT scary Cooked-Fruit Apple Pie. Relatively simple, classic flavors, easy to acquire ingredients. This is a lovely pie that could truly only have few enemies.

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Some people don’t like raisins, I suppose. That could be where a person could take issue with this pie. Pippa, on the other hand (my number one pie taste tester): big fan of the raisin. Big, big fan.

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So here’s the pie-nerdy part of this post. This recipe is instructive in a specific technique. Picture a slice of double-crust apple pie in your mind’s eye. If you’ve eaten a respectable number of apple pie slices in your day, you’ll probably agree that the slice of pie you’ve pictured has somewhat of a gap between the top crust and the pile of cooked apples in the filling. That’s because apples shrink as they cook down, leaving an empty space behind. Nothing mind-blowing here. Now, the Cooked-Fruit Apple Pie is different. The apples are cooked until they begin to shrink before the pie is assembled and baked, resulting in a snug top crust.

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Among other titles, my friend Sara is a potter. Isn’t this a beautiful pie plate?

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In the photo below, you can witness the aforementioned “snug top crust” effect. And some peekin’ raisins.

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Ohhhh, here we go! I get to show you all my new favorite thing!!!

A couple posts back I told you that I finally got proper pie-slice-dispersing packages and here they are in their glory. I am absolutely loving owning these. I feel a little sheepish it took me this long to stock something like this at my house, but also, not really surprised. I’m a huge under-buyer (a term from one of my favorite podcasters, Gretchen Rubin, click here to take a quiz that will classify you as an under-buyer or an over-buyer). Also, I avoid (not entirely successfully, but with good effort) purchasing one-time use kitchen items. Thirdly, (and what a blessing this is!) I’ve pretty much always been able to fill my house with pie-eating people at a moment’s notice. Since dinner parties have been put on pause for now, I was forced into rethinking how to safely share the pies I bake with as many other folks as possible. Anyway, aren’t they fun? I think what I like the most about them is how they make each slice truly look like a shiny little gift.

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As we move into this summer, I’m wishing each of you peace, resolve, openheartedness, and perhaps even a few moments of glee such as the one pictured below.

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May is Almost Over

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You won’t catch me doing this again, but this time, the clock got me.

I resolved to post twice a month this year. I don’t know if you’ve been counting, but you have probably at least noticed (if you’ve been following my blog escapades for a few years) that my Peace of Pie presence has increased this year (Yay for goals!)

It’s May 31st, 9:12 pm aka my normal bedtime and it also happens to be my 32nd birthday. I had such a busy week and thought, I’ve got nothing much going on on Sunday after church and Levi won’t be working, I could totally write my second May post on the 31st.

Umm…my day got FILLED with flowers, surprise doorstep visits and cards and gifts, a virtual G + T (It was real, but I shared it with my best friend virtually, in case anyone was confused), phone calls and messages, ice cream, sushi…I am NOT complaining!

So here is my briefer than anticipated post (pictures follow without commentary) about an Oatmeal Raisin Pie with a Tender Cream Cheese Crust, because…May is almost over. If you add questions to the comments, I’ll explain more in June. 😉 For example, you could ask: Is this like a pecan pie with oats? A: Yes. Or, Is this basically the best oatmeal raisin cookie you’ve ever had? A: Yes. Are you responsible for your daughter’s love of ice cream? A: Again, Yes.

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When Life Gives You Lemons (and Oranges)

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Sweet-Tart Lemon Cloud Icebox Pie.

Here we go, here we go! Settle in for a long, rambly post with a wandering storyline. The stuff you clearly embrace if you’re a repeat reader of my blog.

First off, a word of thanks to all of my local friends with lemon trees who have been kind enough to drop off bags at our house at regular intervals. ‘Tis the season in California that I absolutely cannot bring myself to pay for lemons at stores when I full well know that there are many trees bursting with lemons that have few prospects in life. I’m a barterer/surprise gifter from way back, but you’ll see in this post that this tendency has become strengthened even further during COVID-19.

This pie’s story begins on Easter night, with Levi juicing a million lemons like a hero. Juice to be used in the pie, for Penicillin cocktails later in the week/month, etc. (we also like to keep juice in the freezer to have on hand, hence the ice cube trays.) Not pictured, us watching The Chosen, which has honestly helped us get to know our Jesus better than I would have EVER imagined a mere television show could. So, so, good.

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Trader Joe’s Ad of the Post: Organic Vanilla Wafers being crunched up to make a very fine (texture wise, and otherwise) crumb crust. Dee-lightful. It’s exactly like making a graham cracker crust (melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar) but with the obvious substitution of Vanilla Wafers for Grahams.

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A sad sidebar: you may well have noted in the above image that the handle of my food processor is, um, missing…it has broken in several places…so for the time being, every time I make a crumb crust (or pesto or hummus, for that matter) I get to meticulously line up the point of the tiny part pictured below to an equally tiny pressure point at the base of the food processor “handle” in order to start the blades spinning. It’s kind of hard to describe, but your takeaway should be, “That sounds safe, but annoying.”

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Guys, I’m a broken record. Ain’t nothin’ like a homemade crumb crust.

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Here’s the next bit of excitement: learning to make lemon curd! I was actually quite excited that this pie called for homemade curd. You may remember (or may learn by clicking here) that one of my more recent endeavors was the 10-Minute Lemon Meringue Icebox Pie. That pie, titled for its expediency, called for storebought lemon curd (I used Bonne Maman). And that was great too. But I think I have always wanted to make my own lemon/citrus curd (aside from pie. Scones come to mind first!) and this was a great foot in the door.

Lemon juice, lemon zest, an egg, 5 egg yolks, sugar. (Later, butter.) That’s what’s in a nice homemade lemon curd.

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Cue lots and lots of whisking over a double boiler.

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A layer of plastic wrap pressed over the finished product is a classic storage tip for curds and custards.

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P.S. Unlike the 10-Minute Lemon Meringue, I would NOT recommend trying to make this pie alone with a nearly two-year-old. I didn’t try, she was for sure playing with Daddy during at least the more complicated parts, but um yeah I can’t imagine that would have gone well if I had. #knowthyself #andthytoddler

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The order of events:

1. Pre-baked crumb crust (7 minute baking time)

2. Layer of lemon curd

3. Layer of whipping cream beaten with powdered sugar, vanilla, and mas lemon curd.

You’ve heard me talk before about how it’s just not really okay to eat a whole pie on your own. When I say on my own, I also mean, my immediate family. Two adults and a small child to one pie is not the correct ratio. I’m not saying we don’t have it in us, I’m just saying it’s a bad idea. And if you can’t bring people to the pie…bring the pie to the people.

The ridiculous packaging of these outgoing gifts immediately prompted me to buy a fat stack of cute pie clamshell thingies that you will no doubt see in future episodes (I meant posts but I wrote episodes and decided to leave it).

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On the same day this pie went out to surprise some friends, I got a lovely surprise on my doorstep too. We did a fun little “Spring gift exchange” in my church’s women’s group, and the pie was part of my outgoing “secret sister” gift. My incoming gift included sweet bracelets handmade by one of my youngest friends, a basket handmade (!) by her very talented mama, a nature book, and oranges from their orange tree. Talk about a day brightener. I loved it all! (So did/does Pippa.) Thank you, friends!

When Levi and I sat down to enjoy our portion of pie, he declared it to be…drumroll…THE BEST PIE YET. And just now as I was writing I was like whoa whoa I better clarify this b/c that’s a pretty big claim. So here are some of his exact-ish words:

“Okay, I don’t know if I’d put it in a contest and claim that it would win against every other kind of pie out there but it’s true that if you ask me right now or really any time what pie I want to eat, the answer is this one.”

Do with that what you will.

Oh, and please check out the layering in the side profile shot right there on your way out.

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Unrelated P.S. The Gelineau House lockdown has been brought to you by innumerable hours of Playmobil. Pictured below: (L) Mommy and Pippa with quarantine hairdos and yes that is a Playmobil sunflower behind my ear. (R) “Daughter” gets sent to the market to buy vegetables.

Smile! God loves you.

Heartdepths

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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As we’ve been singing a lot with Pippa: I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.

Down in my heart to stay.

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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