I know it’s been a while I since I posted to this blog, but something about summer with a 3-year-old means you just don’t make many pies.  But now that it’s fall and the rains have come back to Seattle, I’m spending more time indoors, and that means more time making pie.

The apples have seemed especially appealing this year, so this afternoon I made an apple pie.  I used the classic recipe from Betty Crocker, and some granny smiths.  In the past, I’ve added a bit of lime juice, and omitted the butter, but this time I followed the recipe exactly as it is written.  I used my deep-dish pie pan and a pie shield, and it turned out lovely.

Then I made an eggnog pie, using the recipe I perfected last year.  I know it’s a bit early for eggnog, but I’ve been craving it ever since the weather turned cold.  Something about rain down here and snow in the mountains just screams EGGNOG.  It also turned out lovely.

For both pies, I used the standard pie crust recipe.  Lately I’ve been using the stick form of butter-flavored Crisco instead of from the big can, and I’ve found that the trick to using the stick stuff is to use more.  Instead of 1/3 of a cup per crust, I use 1/2 a cup.  So, for a 2-crust batch, that’s one stick (the sticks are one cup each), which makes for easy measuring.

Stay tuned–I roasted some pumpkins to make my own puree this year…


It’s been a while since I made a pie.  I’ve been busy with other pursuits, such as having the flu.  But I couldn’t let Easter go by without making a pie, especially since Rachel invited us over for brunch, and I know she and her kids love a pie.  So, I baked a marionberry pie.  It turned out OK, but I wasn’t sure it was Easter-worthy, so I gave it to Char, and she gave me a bag of frozen strawberries.

So I pulled out my Southern Pies book, and found a recipe for a Frozen Strawberry Margarita Pie.  But something about tequila at a brunch with teenagers present didn’t seem like a good idea, so I left out the tequila.  Basically, you make a graham cracker crust, then you blender up some strawberries, some lime juice, and tequila if you’re using it.  Then you fold in a half cup of whipped cream (that is, half a cup of cream, whipped to stiff peaks), and then you put it in the crust and freeze it.  Then you top the whole thing off with a lot more whipped cream, and you pop it back in the freezer until it’s ready to serve.

Yum.  YUM.  I mean YUUUUUUM!  Fantastic pie!  Not really appropriate for the cool Seattle weather we’re having, but when summer comes around, holy cow, I’ll be making that for every party I go to.  Gorgeous, impressive, and yet not hard to make–just time consuming because of the freezing.

Banoffee Pie

You know, the English really know how to make delicious desserts with weird-sounding names.  I mean, spotted dick–delicious, but seriously, is that a good name for a food item?  Is it an appetizing name?  Seriously?

But I digress, because today I did not make spotted dick. I made banoffee pie, and you can’t imagine how many people have said to me in the last 24 hours, “Banoffee pie, what’s that?”  Turns out it’s banana plus toffee, hence, banoffee.  Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either until I was watching Paula Deen this weekend (I am a Food Network junkie) and she made a banoffee pie.  It looked both delicious and easy, so, I tried it.

This was my first attempt at a graham cracker crust.  Graham cracker crusts, where have you BEEN all my life?  Holy cow, they’re easy to make.  I mean, I don’t think regular pie crust is that hard to make, but if you can’t make a graham cracker crust, well, you probably shouldn’t be playing with an oven anyway.

Next, I fished our last two cans of sweetened condensed milk out of the cabinet and poured them in a glass dish.  Then I pulled out a disposable roasting pan left over from two Thanksgivings ago (no, I don’t have a real roasting pan, I don’t roast giant turkeys often enough to warrant buying one), popped the glass dish in there (it just barely fit), and poured water in the roasting pan up per the instructions.  This would also be the first time I’ve ever cooked with a bain-marie (that would be the fancy name for the water in the roasting pan technique).

After the “toffee” cooled, I poured half in the cookie crust, sliced the bananas into the pie, and poured the other half of the toffee over the top.  Then I popped the whole thing in the fridge to really set up, and then took it over to my neighbor’s house.  I didn’t do the whip cream part, because I didn’t have any whipping cream.

I still had a banana and some toffee left over, so I made some little graham cracker tartlet shells and made mini pies for J and myself.  Holy cow, ridiculously overly sweet, I couldn’t even eat it and J couldn’t finish it.  Just seriously cloying.  Give me a nice banana cream pie any day over this thing.

Remember how I said that the eggnog pie recipe I found took a long time to bake up and made too much filling for the pie?  Well, I did some tweaking, and came up with something I think is even more delicious.  Here it is:

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups eggnog

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup melted butter

Mix together.  Roll out your crust and put in a 9-inch pie pan, then pour in the filling.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

Holiday Recap

I know it’s been a month since Christmas, but it’s taken me a bit to recover from the holidays.  There was a LOT of pie going on then.  I made pies-in-jars for a bunch of our relatives, including J’s sister, dad, mom, and stepsisters, and also for our neighbor/daycare provider.  I tried to make a mix of pies for everyone, including pecan, eggnog, pumpkin, and some fruit-and-cream pies.  Then I found some little inexpensive coolers online, and packed them up for everyone.  I even made labels for all of them with cooking instructions.

One of the best things about making pie is that people like it, and they give you lots of positive feedback about it.  All of the family members who have tried my pies have told me how delicious they are.  J’s dad even told me that he would like to order a gross of them.  I’ve told everyone I’ve given them to that if they bring me back the jars, I’ll replace them with more pies.

For Christmas, J’s sister gave me a book of pie recipes, called Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies.  It has some really charming pie recipes, old school down-home ones and also elegant-looking ones.  It also has advice on technique, and several good-looking crust recipes.  The only pie I’ve had time to try so far is the Caramel Apple Nut pie.  I made it for J’s cousin Rachel and her two teenage kids, who came over to babysit for our son a couple of weekends ago.  They all said they loved it.  The apples came out firmer than in a traditional pie, which they said they liked about it.

In other pie news, I’m planning to host a pie-making workshop as a fundraiser for the March for Babies.  Those of you who don’t know me personally might not know that my son was a preemie, and that the March of Dimes does amazing work around healthy pregnancies and neonatal care.  Their main fundraising event is the March for Babies, and this is the second year that I’ll be organizing a family team.  I’m calling my pie event “Pies for Preemies,” and will be asking for a $10 donation from those who attend.  Those of you who know me and are interested in learning how to make pie, drop me a line and I’ll put you on the guest list!

This week is my office’s holiday party.  One of my friends at work, Maureen, can’t have gluten, so I decided I would experiment with gluten-free pie crust.  Being stingy and unwilling to invest in a bunch of non-traditional starches to mix together, I just bought this pie crust mix.  You combine the mix with a buttload of shortening (or half butter and half shortening, but since I am all about the butter flavor Crisco, that’s what I used), plus some baking powder, 2 eggs, some cider vinegar, and a little bit of water.

This basically made some seriously sticky goo, which you then chill, like sugar cookie dough.  Then you roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap.  I was pretty concerned about this crust, because it was absolutely nothing like any pie crust I’ve ever made.  It was incredibly squishy and moist.  But, hey, in for a penny, right?

For the filling, I made a peaches and cream pie, from Page 314.  Except, instead of using flour, I used corn starch (half the amount, per some instructions for substitution I found on the internet), and instead of peach halves, I used a pound of frozen peaches I’d thawed out.  Very straight-forward.  It baked up in 45 minutes in our 400 degree oven and turned out looking right.  I took a little piece of the crust to taste, and it was very crumbly…but tasted like pie crust.

Because some people prefer a gluten-laden pie, I also made a raspberry and peaches and cream pie.  It was just like the gluten-free one, except that it had a standard flour crust, and flour in the filling instead of corn starch, and I sprinkled raspberries on top of the peaches before pouring the cream over the top.  I think the raspberry one turned out looking very festive, good for a holiday party.

I took both pies to the party, and got rave reviews.  Maureen asked me to tell her the name of the company that made the pie crust mix, and one of my other coworkers who eats gluten actually took a slice of the gluten-free one home to his wife, who also liked it.  I think the fruit-and-cream pie concept is a serious hit!

Pie Therapy

I find making pie very soothing.  There’s something really comforting about rolling out a crust and filling it with something delicious.  I’m going through a sort of rough patch emotionally this week, so on Monday I had a little pie therapy.  I made a dozen pumpkin pies-in-jars, the start of Christmas and hostess gifts for the holiday season.  And then I made a pecan pie, and an eggnog pie.  No, there is no eggnog pie recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook, but as I was pulling eggs out of the fridge for the pumpkin pie, I realized that we have a big jug of eggnog hanging around in there.  So I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if you could make a pie with that?”

Five seconds of search the net, and there it was, an eggnog pie recipe. OMG delicious, seriously!  J loved it too, and he doesn’t even like eggnog.  In fact, I invited my friend Anne over for some pie the next day, and she also said it good.

Eggnog Pie

But here’s my beef with this recipe: it made too much filling for the 9-inch pie pan I used.  And it was extraordinarily runny, and took an extra 25 minutes to cook up longer than the recipe said it would.  But the basic concept and flavor were good.  Next time, I’d use only a cup and a half of eggnog instead of two cups, and I’d add in some cinnamon and nutmeg.  I might also add in some spiced rum, because we love the Captain in our house.

Now that all the pies are done, I feel pretty good.  Almost good enough to face the giant pile of dishes in the sink.  Almost.

I’ve officially had my first pie crust flop, and of course, it happened on Thanksgiving. I made my Thanksgiving pies over at my mother’s house, where we were having dinner. She had all the crust ingredients I needed: flour, butter-flavored Crisco, salt, water. I mixed them together like I always do, and then attempted to roll out my crusts, but they completely fell apart. It was a total disaster. After two failed attempts at rolling it out, I ended up just mushing the crust for the pumpkin pie into the pan, like I do for a pie in a jar. Only, because it had been rolled out twice already, when it cooked up, it was beyond tough and into the hard-as-a-rock category.

With the apple pie’s crust, I knew from trying to roll out the one for the pumpkin pie that something was horribly wrong, so I added a bunch more shortening and a little more water, hoping that would make it hold together. It still didn’t, so I basically had chunks of crust scattered across the top of the apple pie, instead of a top crust. No, I did not take pictures. What? You got a problem with that? Then make your own ugly pies and start your own pie blog.

Of course, the only people at Thanksgiving were my family (my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, and my parents, and of course J and our son), and they all said how delicious the pies were. My family members are really nice people. Fortunately, I’d brought all my own fillings, so the fillings turned out great.

The next morning, I got back up on the horse again, because I needed to make that blackberry and cream pie for J’s extended family. His cousin Rachel lives nearby, and her parents and sister and niece were in town for the holiday. Rachel’s parents live on a farm, so pie is something they make and eat all the time. I knew I needed to at least not embarrass myself, and hopefully make a pie that they really enjoyed. So I mixed my flour and my salt and my butter-flavored Crisco, and added the water from my sink, and held my breath as I rolled it out…and it was fine. Perfectly normal crust, just like I always make. This was the point where breathed a sigh of relief.

In hindsight, here’s what I think went wrong. I think the flour at my mother’s house wasn’t fresh enough, and I think my dad shouldn’t have kept the Crisco in the fridge. Instead, I should have brought my own flour and Crisco.  I mean, I always say pie crust is easy, and it is, if you have the right ingredients.  If you don’t, though, it’s obviously a complete mess.

Anyway, finishing the story: the blackberry and cream pie turned out awesome, and everyone raved about how good it was. Rachel’s mom said she’d never seen a pie like it, and I said, “Betty Crocker 1950’s cookbook, page 314!” She’s going to look it up.  I also brought them some pies in jars–an assortment of the different flavors I’ve attempted so far, including one blackberry and cream one. J’s sister Mandy had told them about pie in a jar and they were fascinated by the concept and curious to try them out.

Thanksgiving is coming

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I bet you’re wondering, what is the Pieist planning to make this year? Well, it’ll be two tried-and-true classics for me: pumpkin, and apple. I have a big bag of granny smiths in the fridge, and of course J has been hoarding canned pumpkin ever since he learned that there is a shortage. I’ll be taking my pie-making supplies over to my mother’s house and hoping to enlist some family members to help me peel and core the apples, which is my least favorite part of the job.

But what’s more exciting is what I’ll be making for the day after Thanksgiving, when we’re visiting J’s cousin and her family. It’ll be blackberry and cream, which is now J’s favorite and one that he regularly requests. Thank goodness he picked all those blackberries last summer and we have a big bag of frozen ones in the freezer. I use the recipe on Page 314. Something about the cream with the tart berries makes for a really good flavor combination.

Since I am now obsessed with pie-in-a-jar, and I have figured out that two-crust pies are too much crust for a pie-in-a-jar, I am now focusing on one-crust pies. Today’s edition: blackberries and cream. J and our son picked a bazillion blackberries this summer, and we froze the excess, so I have a ready supply of frozen berries for pies for a while. Before trying it in jars, I thought I’d make a full-sized version.

I used the recipe on Page 314. One thing I love about the Betty Crocker cookbook is the little commentary about some of the recipes, and this one’s commentary is classic example: “Mrs. Edward A. Cook of Wayzata, Minnesota, learned this old-time trick with berries from her husband’s mother who brought it from New York state.” Awesome.

This time, I decided to use the deep-dish pan my mom got me for my birthday. Only, the problem is, I can never get the crust to roll out enough to be big enough to work quite right. But, whatever, I still think it turned out fairly pretty. I sort-of folded down the edges and then textured them with a fork.

It turned out pretty delicious.  My only concern with pie-in-a-jar with this recipe is the cream, I mean, will it still taste good if it gets frozen?  How would that work?  Then again, the pumpkin ones have cream in them and they freeze just fine.  I guess I’ll just have to experiment and find out.