Decadence in a Nut-Shell

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Pippa and Jack’s fall vacay, part 2. From the mountains to the beaches, these two know how to enjoy their surroundings. In October, our families shared a beach house in San Diego for four days and nights characterized by sticky sand, idyllic views, toddler shenanigans, and decadent treats.

I’m choosing to harp on the word decadence to talk about the pie we enjoyed on this vacation. This dessert is nearly laughable in terms of richness, over-the-topness, and, well…yeah. Decadence. Even Ken Haedrich includes a note in his description of this pie that reads: Warning: I doubt there’s a richer recipe in this book.

The pie in question is the…Patchwork Quilt Country Inn Frozen Coffee Toffee Pie. Even the name is a mouthful. Let’s talk about the crust first. This pie gets its own particular crust: Choco-Nut Press-In Pie Crust, which Ken comments is an “unorthodox crust” that would likely work well with many of the other icebox and ice cream pies in the Pie cookbook, “especially those featuring chocolate”.

The first step in the making of this crust involves pulsing chocolate and walnuts and sugar in a food processor. I had overlooked this small detail while packing but guess what it TOTALLY worked out because my food processor has been functional but essentially broken all year. Levi did a Target run on Day 2 of our vacation that included: a new food processor.

I purchased one item for the making of this crust that I will almost certainly never have occasion to buy again: boxed pie crust mix. (!!)

Having made that snide remark: the crust really came together nicely, was easy to work with, and tasted like something special. Here it is, pressed into the largest pie plate I own. Following this, the crust was refrigerated, then baked, then refrigerated again.

In between steps of pie-making, I assisted Pippa in creating a chocolatey treat of her own. (Thanks Trader Joe’s.)

Okay, are you guys really ready to hear about the filling? The answer is no, there’s no way to prepare for the shocking stats to follow.

7 eggs.

4 sticks of butter.

2 1/2 CUPS of sugar. (I just couldn’t do it. I reduced it to 2.)

Chocolate, espresso, Kahlua, vanilla. And none of this includes the topping.

My entire Kitchen-Aid stand mixer traveled to San Diego with me for the making of this monstrosity.

The filling is refrigerated in the already cold pie shell before a topping gets added. Here I am with an expression that says, “lol now I’ve seen it all”.

The cold pie is topped with sweetened espresso whipped cream. The recipe calls for “Rich’s Whip Topping” but that’s not available in California stores from what I could deduce (and the recipe allows that it’s only available in certain parts of the country. The Patchwork Quilt Country Inn is in Indiana, so I’m thinking this is a Midwest product. But if any of you have heard of it or used it, I’d be quite curious to know.)

The fully assembled pie freezes for 2-4 hours before being ready for consumption. After your kids go to bed is the suggested correct time to dig into this pie. I for one don’t like to caffeinate my two-year-old prior to bedtime. (But I’d be dishonest to say she didn’t taste this at all…she did get a few morsels on the morning we were packing up and checking out. We were all trying to do our best by the remainder of the pie; it was a feat.) In summary: this is as delicious as you would imagine. A pie not for the everyday, but perfect for a very special treat. Thanks to Alisa for deciding that our trip to San Diego was the right occasion. 😉

I shared a large wedge with our downstairs neighbors (a small group of friends who were renting out the bottom floor of the same AirBnB house). This is exactly how that conversation went.

Me in my mask knocking on the door. Door opens.

“Hi neighbors! Uhhhh…..I made this frozen coffee toffee pie and there’s no way we’re going to eat it all, do you guys want to try some? None of you are allergic to nuts, right?”

Despite my awkwardness, they were quite pleased and happily accepted my offering.

In keeping with the Choco-Nut theme, here’s one more vacay picture. Me with my ice cream buddy for life.

What pies are you making for Thanksgiving this week? I’d love to hear. ❤

Quarantine Pie: A Story Told Through Correspondence

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Part One: An email from Jess to Matt

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!

Zapple Pie

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It’s not Apple Pie: It’s Zapple Pie.

Yes, my friends. It’s time to talk about mock apple pie, made from zucchini and a few other ingredients that aid the trickery. Unless you actually make one yourself, you will probably not believe me when I say how good it is. But I and my taste-testers will tell you: it is really, really, really good. This Crumb-Topped Zapple Pie recipe can be found in Ken Haedrich’s book Pie, like most of the others discussed on this blog.

I made two of these back-to-back in late August/early September when mi querida amiga Linda gave me six zucchini from her prolific garden, two of which were actual giants. I’m a person that likes zucchini a lot of ways, but after making that first pie, it was like, oh, clearly this is 100% the best way to use zucchini. Let’s not mess around with zucchini bread and other such distractions anymore.

What does it take to make a Zapple Pie? Take a look.

Because this pie is so unusual, so delectable, and made with such a common ingredient, I feel it will be well worth our collective time to go into the process in a more step-by-step fashion than I typically would. Sound good? Sounds good.

Peel the zucchini and cut into thin, but not paper-thin, pieces (Cut rounds, then quarter them if a large zucchini, or in half for a medium zucchini.) You’ll start with six cups of raw zuke pieces.

Not previously pictured, but here is another key secret ingredient. Little bit of apple juice concentrate + Little bit of apple cider vinegar goes a long way in making zucchinis taste like apples, as it turns out.

Sugar, spices, and appley things simmer with the zucchini in a stockpot prior to baking. A cornstarch and lemon juice mixture is added towards the end to thicken and brighten up the mixture.

Like most of Ken’s crumb-topped pies, this pie is baked for half an hour with nothing on top, and the crumbs are added about halfway through the total baking time. Personally, one of my favorite aspects of this pie is the use of pecans in the crumb topping. This truly elevates the flavor and texture of the entire pie, in my opinion. Genius move.

In checking for doneness, you’ll see thick juicy bubbles around the edge of the pie when it’s done, just like you would expect of any classic fruit pie.

I was happy to be able to share these pies with Linda (the zucchini-giver) and her family and Levi’s grandparents and aunt. We’ve also been having backyard church some Sunday nights with a handful of friends, a real joy. Distanced and all that, you know the drill (Pippa and her cousin “baby Luke” don’t distance, because a. They stink at it and b. We are in each others’ bubbles.) But boy oh boy, it is GOOD to sit eight feet apart from physical people and physically drink the wine and eat the bread together.

And sometimes, afterwards, physically eat mystery pie together.

Pippa: “Whhaaaaat’s in it?” She loves being in on trickery.

Bonus completely irrelevant photo that no one will be mad about: Pippa and her beloved babies. I hope she never stops calling anyone that is even slightly younger than her “baby ___________”.

Left to right: Baby Pippa, Baby Margaret, Baby Dolly, Baby Lucy, Baby Lydia. #babysquad

Will you try making a Zapple Pie? Don’t forget to let me know. I very badly want to hear your reaction and whether you found it as entirely delightful as I did. ❤

Let the Record Show

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I had a real moment this weekend. A moment of serious pie déjà vu.

I was working on a Triple-Layer Pumpkin-Chocolate Pie, a pie which, in my own words, “I’m really excited to make because I’ve been eyeing this recipe forever and never actually made!” Well, look. I hate to say this, but sometimes pies begin to blur together in my mind. I’d checked the Pie Gallery page of this website multiple times, saw no hint of the Triple-Layer, and thought I was in the clear. But then, the aforementioned déjà vu hit too strongly when I was photographing the pie with its top sour cream layer and I did a more careful search through old blog posts. Come to find, the Thanksgiving pies of 2013 never made it to the gallery!! I laughed out loud when I saw the image below…

…Because I’d just finished taking these photos.

By the way, I don’t mean to complain. There was clearly meant to be a 2020 version of this pie; I was happy to make it again, share it with some lovely family friends, taste it again myself (since I had no recollection of the taste from 2013. Weird right.) Plus you guys would never have gotten these sweet Pippa/Process Pics.

She is getting PRETTY good with a rolling pin, I will not lie. And check out this nifty pie rolling mat! Another embarrassing confession-from-a-pie-maker to add to the list in this post; I’ve never even seen one of these baking mats or surmised their existence. What a fantastic invention. And what fantastic bedhead.

By the by, the reason this pie was up for (re)consideration was when I asked the recipients for favorite pie fillings, the response was “chocolate, pumpkin, and macaroni and cheese”. Even I could not figure out how to combine all three of those, but the first two? YES.

This may be a good recipe to consider if you’re thinking of making something new and a bit different for your Thanksgiving this year. I always find most families have some pumpkin people and some chocolate people. And maybe some pumpkin-chocolate people. Make everyone happy. Reach out if you’d like the recipe.

The chocolate layer of the pie is the same cheesecake-y pumpkin filling shown above, just with melted chocolate added.

The striking profile you see below is achieved with multiple rounds of baking. The crust is partially pre-baked, the chocolate-pumpkin layer is baked alone for twenty minutes, then the plain pumpkin layer goes on top of that. It’s time consuming, but not too much trouble; just a lot of time all added up! The sour cream layer is poured on top of the cooled pie, which is then chilled for at least three hours before eating.

Moving on. Following the discovery of my startling omission, I was compelled to give the Pie Gallery a fresh update. It took a bit longer than I’m comfortable admitting and was probably the 567th most important thing on my to-do list last night, but it was rewarding in its own way. A few minor numbering errors were corrected and the Triple-Layer’s photo was added to spot 116, along with the Jellied Cranberry-Pecan Pie (117) that had been made at the same time. I also took the opportunity to add in the Mocha Ricotta Mousse Pie with Warm Mocha Sauce that my cousin Daniel and I collaborated on in the summer of 2019. It’s currently taking a high place of honor in spot #150 – the halfway mark of this project! Unfortunately for Dan (and for myself come to think of it) I have a feeling I’m yet missing one to two pies and that number may shift. It would be very, very cute, and very good for my storyline if the pie with Pippa’s name emblazoned on it (currently in spot #149) ends up being Pie 150. P.S. I know I care WAAAAAAAY more about any of this than I could ever imagine you would, dear reader. If you’ve already got the gallery page open in another tab and are trying to make sense of my ramblings…well, you’re my hero.

In conclusion, a few things you should know about the Mocha Ricotta Mousse Pie.

1) It was incredible.

2) It was actually fairly simple to make.

3) My cousin Dan has a fake celebrity chef/Instagram persona named “Chef Gusto” who wears a tall white hat, a fake mustache, and speaks with what can only loosely be called a French accent. So as you might guess, cooking with him is quite hilarious. If you want a good laugh and you’re reading this post within the week it was published, click here to view Chef Gusto’s Instagram Story from July 2019; he made it temporarily public for the enjoyment of Peace of Pie readers! Thanks Dan. Can’t wait for you to “teach me how” to make another pie sometime.

Below: serving suggestion for coffee lovers: Mocha Pie, Mocha Sauce, Espresso…what else could you want?

See you all in October. ❤

Mini Cheesecake Pies for the Kids

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Dynamic Duos

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Once upon a time, there were two babies named Pippa and Milo. They were the best of friends.

When Milo read books, Pippa read books. When Pippa cuddled her baby, Milo cuddled his baby. When Milo said, “Time to eat!” Pippa said, “I’m all in.”

Pippa and Milo both like sweet treats. Pippa’s mama is a pie baker, and Milo’s parents have an ice cream maker. When their families stay together, decadence ensues.

Here’s Milo blessing the pie pastry for this Fancy Chocolate Chess Pie.

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Milo’s dad doesn’t bake pies too often, but he has made two kinds of pie, one of which happens to be Chocolate Chess. This isn’t as coincidental as it sounds – Milo’s family lives in Virginia, and Chess Pie was born and bred in the South. The other pie Milo’s dad can make is a PB & J pie. Pippa’s mama thinks it is a very unfortunate omission that there is no recipe for a PB & J pie in her cookbook, and might just have to try making one soon anyway.

Here is a picture of many egg yolks that put the Fancy in this Chocolate Chess Pie.

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Pippa’s mama couldn’t remember if she had made this pie before. She thought she hadn’t, until just now, when she was browsing the “Chess” tag on her own website and stumbled upon a post from 2013. Now she remembers that this was Pie #99 in her gallery and she can’t count it again. Too bad, cause this would have been a fiiiine looking image for the pie gallery. But y’know, no real regrets. It was delish again, seven years later, eaten with different folks.

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Milo’s mama used a Salt and Straw Ice Cream Starter Kit (link here but it looks pretty much unavailable anymore which is sad and disappointing news for all of us) to make absolutely delicious Freckled Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. The two decadent desserts were enjoyed side by side one evening; a slice of pie followed by a bowl of ice cream. Don’t worry, Pippa and Milo got to taste-test the ice cream at lunch the next day.

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P.S. Pippa’s mama now owns an ice cream maker also. She’s written about her love for Salt and Straw Ice Cream before. If S&S ever starts selling Honey Lavender Starter Kits, you all know what she wants for her birthday for the rest of her life.

The End.

You’re Sure to Fall in Love with Old Cape Cod (and this Gluten Free Pie Crust)

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That’s what the song says, minus my little parenthetical addition.

And, sure enough, we did.

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If you would have told me last year that I, my husband, and my two-year-old would drive to Cape Cod from California in the summer of 2020, much head-scratching would have ensued. 2020. No one saw it coming.

For a week, we created a friend/spiritual family pod in this gorgeous Brewster, Massachusetts home. It was exactly what our souls needed.

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On the Thursday evening, we dressed up in the nicest things we’d brought, planned an extra special dinner menu (although, wait, that was every night…) and had a “backyard party” of sorts. We ate outside (you’ll see the bottle o’ bug spray in an upcoming photo, mixed in with the prettier things on the table!) To elevate the night further, the presence of a pie was certainly required. And, with our friend Jonny in mind, it needed to be a gluten-free pie.

In the past, when preparing desserts for friends who aren’t able to eat gluten, I’ve tended to go towards pies with meringue shells (made with no flour – mainly egg whites!) or veer away from serving pie at all. Even for this occasion, my original plan was to make a recipe from Ken Haedrich’s Pie cookbook, Black Forest Mini Angel Pies. Those would have been fantastic, except after I acquired all of the ingredients, including a whole bottle of cream of tartar, I had a forehead-slapping realization that I was 3,000+ miles from my KitchenAid. Meringue, which requires a hefty amount of high-speed whipping, was out of the question.

It was high, high time to try a gluten free pastry recipe, one that wouldn’t be just a passable shell for a pie filling, but delicious in its own right. Easy to work with and roll out was another quality on my wish list.

Et voila: Gluten Free on a Shoestring has a recipe for an extra-flaky pie pastry made with sour cream (I substituted Greek yogurt) that “rolls out beautifully” – their words, but I totally, totally agree. Helen, always prepared, had brought along some Cup4Cup gluten free flour, which happened to be one of the brands recommended in the linked recipe.

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Here’s a slightly misleading photo in which I am rolling the pie crust with a bottle of Cape Cod vodka, not because I was trying to set up a clever photo to tell you I used vodka in the crust (I STILL have not tried this, to my great shame as a pie experimentess), but because it was the closest thing to a rolling pin in the vicinity. The crust rolled out even more easily than my standard gluten-y go-tos.

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Remember all those cherries I bought thinking I was making Black Forest mini pies? Oh yeah, me too. Throw those in the filling FOR SURE. Peaches and I think maybe one nectarine too. It’s August, I don’t remember July details anymore.

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We’ll circle back to see how the pie turned out shortly. Let’s take a look at what else is happening meanwhile at our celebratory Thursday evening, alongside a large pitcher of this Watermelon Mint Lemonade.

My life doesn’t always look it’s straight out of Food and Wine magazine, but when it does…I ain’t complaining. Thank you Levi for these UNREAL oysters, pictured topped with herb butter before being grilled to perfection.

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As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them.” I have noticed it too, how good it is to gather around a table.

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That pie though. It’s really just showing off here with its beautiful peekaboo crust, as if to prove how easy this pastry is to work with. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, part and parcel. And I think it was particularly special for Jonny, who doesn’t get to eat pie pastry as often as, say, I do.

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And behold: there was homemade whipped cream to be eaten with our pie. Remember though, AirBnBs don’t have stand mixers. So, what did we do? The cream was poured in a cold metal bowl and passed around the table for each person to take a turn at beating until his or her arm grew tired.

This, my friends, is dedication to the art of eating pie.

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Photo credit for almost all of these photos goes to NOT ME. Helen and her 4-year-old daughter Bella in particular get lots of credit. The portraits of myself, Pippa, and the table in the back garden are all Bella’s work. The close-ups of my gorgeous friends Maggie and José are Helen’s photos. She also captured the cuteness below.

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I have a lot more summer pie stories coming your way. Let’s just say, if your garden is growing massive zucchini right now, but you prefer the taste of apple pie, send me a message. Yes, you heard that correctly. ❤

EDIT: It now appears that 4-year-old Bella the budding photographer also took the pictures of Maggie and José. Gotta give credit where credit is due. She is obviously going to be famous someday.

Strawberry Birthday Pie

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My sweet strawberry-blond, blue-eyed, thumb-sucking girl turned TWO this summer!

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For her first birthday, I made her a blueberry pie.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Top crust sprinkled with sugar and milk, just like the recipe says!

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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!!

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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.

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A couple more drool-worthy crepe photos. Thanks Bella!

#runnyeggsforpresident

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This one was unreal. Dulce de leche (homemade by MOI) with fresh peach and grated coconut on a beet tapioca. Hello.

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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. ❤

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Dear readers, today I am wishing you sweet summer celebrations, patience, kindness, and enjoyment of simple, good gifts. Talk to you in August.

Christmas in July

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Hello friends!

I’m writing to you today from the state of Virginia, where current temps and humidity are combining to make it feel like 108 degrees or so. Swampy is a word I’d use to describe the feeling upon departing from any air conditioned building. That being said, super happy to be here, and also looking forward to going to another swampy state (Georgia) in a few days. Just remember, fellow Northern Hemisphereans, it’s winter somewhere. Somewhere like Australia.

Flashback to….December 2015, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The hottest Christmas day I will probably ever experience. We were staying at our friends Nathan and Nicole’s house and it was so fun to share a warm back patio “Summer Supper” (a reference to one of P’s favorite books) in lieu of the more cozy indoor meal I typically associate with the Christmas season!

Nic is a fellow pie maker and owner of the Ken Haedrich pie tome. As part of the *many* delicious menu items she had planned for the Christmas meal, we baked not one, but two of Ken’s pies. Below left: Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Sour Cream Pie, and right, Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cloud Pie. Far right, Nic’s cute daughter Indianna. (Between us collectively, three babies have arrived in our families since this photo was taken. Goes to highlight how far back this story got stuck in the pie history bottleneck. It’s been added to its rightful position as Pie #138 in the Pie Gallery!)

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Here’s a little close-up of our starlet:

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And then, a slideshow of Christmas morning pie and luncheon preparations for your viewing enjoyment:

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Captions for several of the photos in the above slideshow:

  • Black Bottom. A fancy term for, spread some chocolate in the bottom of that pie crust please.
  • When you’re baking in Australia from an American cookbook…you gotta break out that kitchen scale!
  • California walnuts (for the Apple Pie) and Australia peanuts (for the Peanut Butter Pie), aww, it’s a metaphor for friendship!
  • Note to self (or Levi if he’s reading this), one of those fancy nut choppers might be a necessary Gelineau kitchen tool…
  • If you’re wondering where the “Cloud” in Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cloud Pie comes in, just pause the slideshow for a moment on the image the peanut butter filling pouring lazily from the mixing bowl. Light as a cloud, my friends, light as a cloud.
  • Graham crackers? Australians have never heard of ’em. Try some good old Arnott’s Shredded Wheatmeal biscuits in your next homemade graham cracker crust! (This particular pie calls for peanuts in the crust in addition to in LITERALLY EVERY OTHER PART OF THE PIE. 10/10 would recommend to your favorite peanut lover.)
  • Wait a second…those pictures are not of pie! But, goodness me, doesn’t all of that food look divine? I’m just over here trying to show that Nic is the next Donna Hay. Only my Australian friends will get that but it’s totally fine.

Other bits and pieces:

  • Nic and I have been talking pie for many years now, and she has even shared a savory pie recipe on this blog before, in the post linked here: A Recipe from Nic.
  • Here’s the story of my first Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Sour Cream Apple Pie: Pie and Music

Sending love to each one of you out there having a hot, cool, chilly, or any kind of beautiful July day. ❤

Peach Berry Pie

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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.

We spent two nights in Kansas City, Spotted: An “Uncle Teo” in his native habitat. (That’s what Pippa calls our friend Matt, of Dragonfruit Sea Creature Angel Pie fame.)

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Then, a stop at the imposingly beautiful World War I memorial. I never knew Kansas City had such a skyline.

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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.

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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.

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