Wednesday, December 20, 2006


speaking of cool shapes...


Monday, December 04, 2006

Creative Crust on a Cranberry Pie

Freestyle-folking with Talya!(notice amazing appetizer spread, as well as pumpkin and blueberry pies)

For the second year in a row I spent Thanksgiving (the best ever!) at Robert and Tayla's in South Portland, Maine. There were drinks and folk freestyling (a very special song about Nicholas Cage), walks on the beach and to the local record store, exquisite corpse poetry and rap performances, art projects and pie-making, and an art project and pie-making combined: I made a cranberry pie (see here for recipe--the only adjustment I made was the addition of finely chopped fresh ginger) and Clark designed and created the abstract lattice crust which I then brushed with egg and sprinkled with sugar. The result was fantastic! Not only was the color of the cranberries and cool-shape crust beautiful, but it tasted delicious--and many of us didn't even think we were that crazy for cranberries!

Here are some photos of the process (by Chiara):

Flouring the rolling pin to roll out the top crust. notice sweet apron--a gift from Robert & Talya. This step of the process is what prompted Sayid to say "I didn't know pie-making could be so erotic."

Clark and cranberry pie

Designing the crust

Ready for the oven!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving - It Happens

Thanksgiving at Meghan and Gahlord's this year was somewhat subdued but very homey and fun. The dinner was delicious, particularly Angela's brussel sprouts, Meghan's vegetarian gravy, Stacy's spicy stuffing and my cranberry sauce, if I say so myself!

So after lots of liquor and laying around, the pies arrived, some fresh from the oven!

Here's Meghan's pumpkin pie. I rolled out the crust on this one, so it was a little funky, but the pie itself was smooth and spicy - a classic.

Here's Meghan's apple pie. Again, I rolled out the crust, so funkiness occurred. Perfectly seasoned (with help from Ben P.B.), the apples were melt-in-your-mouth awesome.

Here's my cherry pie. Not too sweet with a doughy crust, this pie was almost not healthy-tasting! Stacy liked it.

Here's Stacy's pumpkin pie, which had an awesome flavor and gorgeous look but kinda fell flat due to underwhipped chiffon, not that anyone would've known if Stacy hadn't been so pissed about it!

Ah, lounging. It was good to see Adam and some new faces, too. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Alright, back to my cherry pie breakfast. Love, Mandy

PS Meat pies! I totally spaced. 'Hey, Mandy, got any room for meat pie in that story?'
One was a tourtière, made by J.B., which people just adored. This style of meat pie originates in Quebec, is enjoyed by people with (and without) Quebecois ancestry throughout Canada and Vermont and is usually made with ground pork and/or veal and/or beef. I believe J.B.'s pie involved venison, but I'm not sure. With a perfect flaky crust and great mix of meats and vegetables, I have no doubt this meat pie would make many a meateater's 'best of' list.

The second pie was a meaty quiche by Tanner. I am not positive what it involved, though I think it was sausage. I did note how lovely the meat and veggies looked on the top of the quiche. Yum.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Erik's First Pie!

I was feeling rather glum last night when I got back to Robert and Talya's on Thanksgiving Eve. I checked my inbox and this e-mail from Erik TOTALLY made my night. As follows:

It took me all evening, but I did it. I baked an apple pie! Check it out!

That dark stuff is just cinnamon. It sort of clumped up on me when I wanted to sprinkle. It dropped instead of sprinkled.


George Washington Cherry Pie

I made this pie today for Thanksgiving at Meghan and Gahlord's house because I wanted to make a light pie that would be relatively low on the glycemic index. I had Gahlord in mind. Cherries are lower than many fruits, and the pie has very little refined sugar in it, using apple cider and the sweetness of cherries instead, except for the topping, in which I reduced the sugar but still used it because, well, it's Thanskgiving. Here's the recipe:
George Washington Cherry Pie
1 1/3 c. wheat flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. + 1/3 c. apple cider
4 c. fresh or frozen cherries
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
1/2 c. all purpose flour (could use wheat)
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tblsp. butter

For the crust:
1. Combine and sift 1 1/4 cups wheat flour and 1/4 t sea salt. Add 1/4 cup canola or other oil and combine until oil is in pea-sized clumps. Add about 1/2 cup of apple cider and just mix, adding more cider if you need to. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. 
2. Roll out crust as thin as you can and put in a greased pie plate. Weigh it down to prevent bubbling in the oven with another pie plate filled with dried beans (or whatever technique you like). Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until it just starts to brown.

For the filling:
Pit and half 4 cups of fresh cherries (I used frozen ones from this summer, already pitted). Put in a sauce pan with 1/4 cup of apple cider and simmer until cherries are good and soft, about 10 minutes. If you have a ridiculous amount of liquid, pour some off and drink it and think of my mother, who always does this! Combine 1/4 cup apple cider with 2 T arrowroot powder and add to cherries. Turn off heat. It should gel up.

For the crumb topping:
Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 T butter.

Put the pie together; you know how. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 more minutes, until the topping browns lightly. You might also want to put a tray underneath the pie because it might leak!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving= Pie Day NOT Turkey Day.

Because of my love of pies and distaste for meat, Thanksgiving is Pie Day, not Turkey Day. I would even go so far to say that it's probably the biggest pie day of the year!! It's such a big day that I'm having trouble deciding what to make. The friends with whom I will be sitting around the Thanksgiving table have reported that they will be making an apple pie and a pecan pie, so that leaves me with either a pumpkin/winter squash pie option or some other fruit...and what's local this time-o-year? cranberries.

Angela passed on a Cranberry Pie recipe from the localvores(below), but I also found a delicious-sounding recipe for cranberry lime galette (a pie with one crust folded over) on the npr website. It cound be found here.

I may try to combine the two recipes so that I can still be making a traditional pie (with a lattice top!!) but have the extra zest that the cranberry-lime galette filling has to offer.

Cranberry Pie 

4 cups cranberries (fresh or thawed)
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
pastry for a 1 or 2 crust 9-inch pie (I always make with just a bottom crust, but the recipe technically recommends a lattice top crust).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and pick over cranberries; drain thoroughly. Chop cranberries and mix with maple syrup and flour. Mix in egg. Line a 9-inch pie pastry plate with pastry bottom. Add cranberry mixtures. If you want, cover with strips of pastry arranged in a lattice and seal edges. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 35 minutes or until cranberries are soft and pastry is brown.

What will you be making this Pie Day? Share your recipes!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Apple Pie: The Quest For Success!

how do ya like them apples?
Last Saturday, Louis, Marina and I met Carrie and Dana at Shelburne Orchards for some apple picking. There we ran into Nick, the quirky gentle giant and owner of the orchards who plays in a bluegrass band called "The Meat Packers." He knows us a little bit from when we (Hammer & Saw) played at the Small Farms Food Fest this September. We got to talking about pie, and I noticed a beaming twinkle in his eye, "I LOVE making pies," he exclaimed in his squeaky voice, unexpectedly high(though perfect for bluegrass) for such a giant of a man. "ME TOO." I told him--(*BING!* kindred spirit alert!) He put his arm around me, "I like you more and more." He then turned to Louis, "Do you make pies too?" he hesitated..."eh..sometimes." Louis had hardly uttered his reply when Nick gave a huff and completely turned his back. "Let's talk about pies," he said to me, as if we were in some secret society. I told him I wasn't completely satisfied yet with my apple pie, and he proceeded to give me detailed instructions--secrets not mentioned on his pie recipe featured on the orchard's apple bags. When he was finished, I promised him I'd let him know how it all turned out. So here it is. I followed most of his directions, though I kept my crust recipe basically intact and added my own twist. 

Nick's Apple Pie 

For the pie crust
makes 2 crusts, 1 double-crust apple pie

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl mix:
1/2 beaten egg (save other half to brush on top of crust)
1/4 cup ice cold water
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 sticks cold butter (cut into slices)

As per Nick's instructions, everything must be cold. Make a pond in the middle of the flour mixture for the liquid mixture. Add the cut up butter and salt. With 2 butter knives or a pastry cutter(Nick prefer's knives), chop the butter into the flour mixture, using the knife to keep the water from running off. Chop until mixed, but not overly mixed--the butter chunks are what makes the crust flaky! Knead into ball, cover and cool in fridge.

For the filling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

8 good size apples, cored, peeled?(I like to leave the skins on. It saves time and is the most nutritious part of the apple, though some people are opposed to this practice) and cut into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces.
very lightly simmer in large skillet with....
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to taste
1 tablespoon instant tapioca
Simmer until apples have just barely softened
Let cool.

Take the ball of crust dough and cut in half. There should be enough in each half for a bottom crust and a top crust. Roll the first one out using extra flower on the rolling pin(or wine bottle if you don't have one!), and on the dough. When the size is right, (10’ circle for a 9’ pie.) brush off extra flour and set in the greased and floured pie plate. Add the apple mix, slightly wet the top edge of the bottom crust, lay on the top crust , pinch and trim. Then with thumb and first finger of right hand and thumb of left hand or a fork, work your way around the crust pushing the edge between your fingers making a ruffled edge. Slice holes in the top of the crust for air to escape and add your personal design. Put the pie in the oven, 35 to 40 minutes. Check for doneness by poking a fork through one of the holes in the top into an apple piece inside to see if it is soft but not sauce.

Special crust treatment
Soften 3 tablespoons of butter. mix with remaining egg. If the butter is soft enough, this mixture can be brushed right on the crust while the crust is hot, Brush it right on the ruffles and all over the top after 15 to 20 minutes of cooking. Nick said to do this 15 minutes through the cooking time, otherwise the crust absorbs the butter and doesn't produce the glossy glow! Sprinkle turbinado sugar over this and return to the oven. When the pie is done the crust will be slightly golden brown and the filling will bubble and ooze a little. Let cool... and eat!

Here's the result of my first attempt with this recipe. I served it at the Superior Concept Monsters workday at Rokeby this Saturday--eaten around a bonfire in the milkbarn yard. I think my apple pie is on its way up.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Delicata Squash Pie

For the Seamonster potluck tonight I made a delicata squash pie--not a pumpkin pie, as many assumed it was. Actually (*pushes up pie-nerd glasses*), many of the cans of "pumpkin pie filling" found at your local supermarket have butternut squash, rather than pumpkin, as their main ingredient. I understand the flavor (not to mention consistency) is better, and it certainly was the case with this delicata pie--in fact, I believe delicata is named as such for its delicate, rich flavor.

This was my first time using a special ceramic pie plate given to me by my mother. It is extra deep for higher pies! As Todd suggested, it's so deep that there was room for an entire topping of whipped cream. I didn't have any, but Meghan did have some creme fraiche which did the trick.

I was pleased with how it turned out--everyone seemed to like it and none was left at the end of the night, but next time I think I will use more brown sugar than white sugar. Maybe I'll even use maple syrup (the local sweetener!) instead. But I wouldn't want the pie to taste like pancakes, right Mandy?

Delicata Squash Pie

Nothing in the House Pie Crust recipe, halved
1-1/2 cups undiluted evaporated milk (can use cream)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 well-beaten eggs
3 medium delicata squash (I used some I picked at Healthy City Youth Farm in the Intervale!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare pie crust using half of the Nothing-in-the-House recipe. Chill for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the squash.

2. Halve and bake delicata squash face down in 1/2 inch of water at 350 degrees F until soft. Let cool. When cool enough to handle, measure 2 cups and blend until smooth.

3. Remove dough from the fridge, roll out crust and fit into a greased and floured pie plate. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

4. Combine undiluted evaporated milk, sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and beaten eggs. Add squash and blend until smooth with a hand mixer or immersion blender.

5. Pour filling into pie crust shell. For aesthetic affect, I added a last swirl of evaporated milk and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, than reduce to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes.

Photos updated October 2015. Updated recipe here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy Birthday (Pie), Grant!

For my brother's 21st birthday I made him a fresh cherry pie. I also gave him a bottle of Maredsous beer, which is brewed at the monastery in Belgium where my grandma's cousin Renee is a monk--it was Grant's 21st, after all, and being his older sister, I felt obliged to supply him with some sort of booze).

I used fresh Michigan cherries--part Rainer (the yellow variety) and part Bing (the stains-your-hands-deep-red variety). I had hoped to use sour cherries because they seem to make better and more flavorful pies, but they didn't have any at the local Elkhart, Indiana grocery store.

I used the recipe from my mom's old "Joy of Cooking"(not sure what year). It called for tapioca, but I substituted it for flour because I didn't want it to have that gelatin-like consistency that many cherry pies seem to have. I used my standard crust recipe, though we didn't have whole wheat pastry flour, so I just went with all-purpose.

Thanks to mom for sacrificing her hand's skin tone by cutting the pits out of the cherries (we couldn't find our pitter).

To do the lattice top (a signature mark of cherry pie!) I cut a template out of cardboard so that each strip of dough would be approximately the same width. It was my first independent-attempt at lattice top and I was pleased with how it turned out.

I think my brother was as well, though this picture doesn't do much to show it:

We topped it with DQ soft serve. Don't know if there are pics of us in the pie enjoyment zone, though.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pie for Breakfast (The Song)

While many think pie for breakfast is in decline, the Home Items girls are doing their best to bring it back. Do we care that men might look down upon us for eating something that might give us buxom figures (see previous post)? NO! We're gonna eat pie for breakfast if we damn well want to and on top of that, we're even gonna sing about it!

Here it is folks. The lyrics to the hit Home Items song, Pie For Breakfast, by Michelle Crowder:

Sometimes I don't want to have a cereal
Sometimes I don't want to fry an egg
Sometimes I don't want to toast a bagel
Sometimes I don't want chicken legs

Chorus:I want pie for breakfast (pie for breakfast, pie for breakfast)
Pie for breakfast

Sometimes I go out to a restaurant
Sometimes I eat it at my home
Sometimes I have a muffin at practice
Whether together or all alone

Chorus: I want pie for breakfast (pie for breakfast, pie for breakfast)
Pie for breakfast

Bridge: Keep it in the fridge or keep it on the windowsill
Peel away the foil for flaky fruity frill!

Sometimes I don't want instant breakfast
Sometimes I don't want a cocoa wheats
Sometimes I don't want orange marmalade
Sometimes I don't want bread with sweet meats

Chorus: I want pie for breakfast (pie for breakfast, pie for breakfast)
Pie for breakfast

For more information about Home Items, the band, and peventually a recording of this song, refer to

Thank you, and don't forget to eat pie for breakfast.

(The Decline of) Pie for Breakfast

 Strawberry-rhubarb pie I took to Jamie's cottage(s) in Maine. Determined to revive the tradition, we followed the instructions and ate it strictly for breakfast. The six of us present did a reading of the text below and sang the Home Items song, "Pie For Breakfast," by Michelle Crowder. Lyrics and information to follow.

While browsing at the Crow Bookshop, I came across an old tome from 1946: It's An Old New England Custom. When I opened it and saw that the first chapter was "To Eat Pie For Breakfast"(not to mention the great black and white prints), I knew I had to buy it. This chapter discusses the tradition of eating pie for breakfast, and conjectures as to why the delicious custom's popularity declined by the mid 1890's, blaming loss of national sovereignty, the industrial revolution, and even men's standards of feminine beauty. Evidenced by phrases such as "seduced into surrendering their birthright" and "empty mockery of a meal," the author seems quite upset by this loss...

“By the time Arnold’s letters were published in the mid-nineties, pie for breakfast was rapidly going out of fashion, along with almost everything else on the morning menu. Why was this? During the last decades of the last century more and more Americans went abroad, and it was these travelers who brought home the idea of the Continental breakfast, consisting of nothing but a hard, cold roll and a cup of coffee. It became fashionable to denounce pie as provincial. No one who wished to be though sophisticated dared eat a big breakfast. One must do as they did in Paris—not Paris, Maine, but Paris, France—and conform to the Continental standard, low as it was. Instead of converting the Parisians to pie, these innocents abroad permitted themselves to be seduced into surrendering their birthright. It is a conspicuous historical fact that nations are apt to copy each other’s worst features rather than their best.

The anti-pie crusade was helped by the increasing tempo of American life. The curious notion that the more we rushed about the more civilized we were was beginning to take root. When we began to measure our progress by the rate of speed at which we could move and began to think that because we could get around ten or a dozen times faster than our grandfathers we were that much better than they were, pie as a morning dish was doomed. For nobody had time to eat a decent breakfast.

The female figure, too, may have had something to do with it, or rather men's ideas concerning the female figure. When pie was in vogue, the buxom figure was admired. Matrons were expected to look matronly. Women could not afford to let themselves go in the matter of food, helping themselves to pie at any meal they wished without giving it a second thought. But with the gradual change in ideas of feminine beauty, women were obliged to consider the consequences of heavy eating. They began to cut down on food to reduce their figures, and breakfast, the first meal of the day, was the first to suffer. It was whittled down until it became nothing but an empty mockery of a meal."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The King's Pie

I received this lovely postcard/heart-attack pecan pie recipe in the mail yesterday from Jamie, who is currently hanging out at Graceland, flipping switches on Elvis' circuit breaker and stealing recipes from Mary Jenkins (Elvis' cook). Jamie says, "I figure this is a pretty std. pecan pie recipe, but in case you are interested in authenticity (and I know you are) this is THE pecan pie recipe that Elvis ate."

Here it is (in case you can't read the card): 

Elvis' Pecan Pie 

4 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup water

Melt butter and blend in other ingredients and mix together well. Pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell(unfortunately it doesn't include Mary's crust recipe, but I'll bet it's got a lotta butter) and bake about 1 hour in a 325 F. oven

I haven't tried this yet, but maybe I will sometime soon--that is, if I can convince my 'organic-whole wheat flour-no sugar-or eggs-applesauce-fresh-from-the-farm' friends to try it.

But whatever, it's Elvis, and maybe it wasn't the pie that killed him(or maybe it was)! Don't tell Mary her secret's out. Oh Mary...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sneak Preview: Emily's Birthday Cake Pie!

This photo is a SNEAK PREVIEW of the pie-shaped cake I will present to our very own birthday girl later tonight! It's a vanilla cake with a semi-sweet chocolate "crust" and vanilla chocolate chip icing piled high on top. Greg and I are freaking out because it looks so tasty. So happy birthday, Emily! We will dance the night away high on cake-pie in honor of you tonight!



Monday, April 03, 2006

Book Club/Pie Breakfast

The Pie Breakfast/Brunch Buffett. Also featured on the table: Allaire's book report, blueberry almond muffins, beet and orange salad, blueberry almond coffeecake, and ketchup (brought to you by the Ketchup Advisory Board which concerns the American public with the inquiry, 'are you getting enough ketchup?')

Last Saturday was my first Seamonster Book Club (we met at Seth and Allaire's chalet in Fairfax and discussed America Over the Water, by Shirley Collins-- An English folksinger who traveled with Alan Lomax in 1959), combined with a pie breakfast/brunch. An impromptu bbq kept me from making my pie the evening before, so I got up early Saturday morning to make a creamy pear pie. I found the recipe online and was quizzical of the addition of cream to the actual pie filling, but when I saw the accompanying quote "Outstanding Creamy Pear Pie! I cook this for the men's league at my golf club, and they love it!," I thought, well hey, that has to be good. It's quite a novel concept to put the cream in the pie, instead of the post-bake cold whipped variety. The recipe is as follows: 

Creamy Pear Pie
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook time: 55 min

·1/3 cup white sugar
·2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
·4 cups peeled and sliced pears
·1 cup sour cream
·1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
·1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I used real lemon juice instead)
·1/2 teaspoon almond extract
·1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Topping (I found it needed a bit more of all of these):
·1/4 cup all-purpose flour
·2 tablespoons brown sugar
·2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
·1/4 cup slivered almonds (I added this to the original recipe)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
2. Stir together white sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Add pears, and toss to coat. Stir in sour cream and vanilla, lemon and almond extracts until pears are evenly coated. Pour into the unbaked pie crust.
3. Combine 1/4 cup flour and brown sugar. Mix in butter with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Add almonds. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the pie and coat with remaining almonds
4. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until pears are tender.

 I really enjoyed the combination of pears and almonds. Mandy said the texture was a nice blend and described the taste as 'comforting' and 'delicious'. For two more pictures of it, showing the cross-section, see the photo stream at right.

More pie-traits:
Michelle made a DELICIOUS quiche with spinach, pine nuts, and potatoes.

Meat-y quiche by Meghan. ham and scallions, perchance?

and Meghan's classic apple pie!

Howard takes no pie, but he does enjoy a spot of tea.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Shepherd's Pie

Hi, friends. I made this shepherd's pie last Saturday, just as I was becoming stricken with tonsilitis. It had porcini mushrooms, lentils, carrots, celery and onions for the "meat" and rosemary, garlic mashed potatoes for the potatoes. The crust was a crazy bisquik-type batter with tons of vinegar in it that turned out great. It took a long time to make but was easy to do in my nice new kitchen. Then we had Emily and Ben over, and then Greg and I had it again for dinner the next night. Awesome good vegan dinner pie goodness care of (who else?) Angelica Kitchen. And Mandy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pie For a Passerby!

This is a story I heard on NPR while driving around with my mom back in 2002. We thought it was so funny and it fueled my then-budding interest in pies.

The story is basically about this woman who got a grant from New York's Public Art Fund(I have to think up a grant-scheme like this!) to set up a pie-making country shack on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library. She made pies for 4 hours a day and would set them on the window sill. If you asked for a pie, she wouldn't give it to you--you had to steal it.

This project also gave me the idea for my summer pie project I did last summer-- guerilla-picking urban berries(usually from the Mulberry trees all over Ann Arbor or the black raspberries in West Park) nearly everyday, making pies with them, and leaving them on the porches of my friends in the neighborhood. Usually I just gave it to them, since I didn't want anyone else or animals to steal it. If I can find a free source of wild urban berries here in Burlington, maybe I'll do it again.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, Robert Frost!

Today is Robert Frost's birthday. Frost is often considered one of the most 'American' poets, just as pie is considered one of the most American foods, and just as pie can have much darker implications (nothing-in-the-house pies, stealing of pies, gender dynamic, etc.) than a cutsy American dessert, so too is frost much darker than the 'road less traveled' cliche. Beyond that silly little stretch of an analogy of my own creation, I came across this poem that some consider to be a lost manuscript of Frost's. I think it's pretty clear that it's not, but it's a decent parody:

o pumpkins in an open field stood,
And sorry I could not harvest both
And one pie make, long I stood
And looked over one as best I could
To where it anchored in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was brassy and wanted air;
Though as for that the sunning there
Had ripened them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another pie!
Yet knowing how many pies end in the sty,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two pumpkins in a field stood, and I - -
I took the lesser for my pie,
And that has made all the difference.

For an actual Frost poem, this one about berry picking, check out 'Blueberries.' It's a little too long to post here, though.

And finally, a picture taken when some friends and I visited Frost's grave in Bennington, VT on the way back from NELP in the Summer of 2003. We had our own little ceremony-- Erik read "Too Anxious For Rivers" and we all recited "Into My Own", of course.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Humble Pie

So, I accidentally deleted the blog during a bout of insomnia late last night (or early yesterday evening, for y'all in EST). I wish I could blame it on Ambien or something, but I can't. At any rate, thanks to Google's cache I can restore the majority of the blog. Unfortunately, all the comments are toast. I've been able to republish some of the original pictures, but Blogger's photo uploader seems to be experiencing some technical difficulties, so complete restoration of restorable blog content will likely take the rest of tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

And please comment if you'd like to have posting access!

Sorry I screwed up. I'm trying to fix it.

Maggie Kate

update: Looks like I'll have to finish the project this weekend. Schoolwork. Apologies. M

National Pi Day

Today was National Pi Day. As in, 3.14. I'm sorry I missed it. I once made a pie with the pi symbol on it. That is all.

Click here

Vermont State Pie

I made an apple pie once with the shape of Vermont on the crust, but don't have a picture of it, so I had to use this one.

No. 15 of the Acts of 1999, effective May 10, 1999, designated the apple pie as the official State Pie[of Vermont]. When serving apple pie in Vermont, a "good faith" effort shall be made to meet one or more of the following conditions: (a) with a glass of cold milk, (b) with a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce, (c) with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. -from Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory

And this, from Angela's zine "The Worries of Weightlessness #1," from "Anything Can Happen in Vermont" by Marguerite Hurrey Wolf(1965):
It was rather fun being a new Vermonter for a while. I was forgiven for planting asparagus roots upside down, and returning a pie plate empty. But as year after year went by, it troubled me that we were still considered novices. We had been humored, watched, and finally accepted on the sole basis of our desire and increasing ability to do our own chores and repairs. But we were not Vermonters.

A Poem by Emily Dickinson; Funeral Pie


Go slow, my soul to feed thyself
Opon his rare approach -
Go rapid, lest competing death
Prevail opon the coach,
Go timid, should his testing eye
Determine thee amiss
Go boldly for thou paid'st the price,
Redemption for a kiss.

Frustrated with the high prices of the zombified out-of-season fruit populating the shelves of the local Tesco, I opted for this old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. The filling is sweet, brown sugary, a little morose. Like a mince pie, but milder. Adding a slug of brandy to the filling wouldn't be out of the question. I'd like to try a version of this recipe that doesn't involve Well, here's the recipe I followed, courtesy of

"This a pie seen quite often in Amish homes. Because it is easy, quick and made from non-seasonal ingredients, it was often taken to the family of those grieving over a passing..."

2 cups raisins
2 cups water
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust recipe (halved)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line a pan with half the pastry and chill.
2. Place the raisins and 2/3 cup of the water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes.
3. Combine the sugars, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl and , mixing all the time, slowly add the remaining water. Add this mixture to the heating raisins. Cook and stir this until the mixture starts to bubble. Add the vinegar and butter and heat until the butter is melted. Cool until just warm.
4. Pour into the prepared shell and top with the second crust. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool.

Related links:

A brief "history" of funeral pie
A page on Pennsylvania Dutch cookery

Sunday Night Pie

Last Sunday night, friends gathered to work on a super-secret project and eat dessert. Chile-chocolate-rum pudding, candied ginger shortbread and muffins graced the table, and lo, everything was delicious. I made this very spicy pumpkin pie, which exactly matched the color of G's ukelele. My new thing is making crusts with about 1/3 wheat flour to 2/3 white, which seems to give a desired crumblyness.

Nothing-in-the-House is providing pie inspiration, pie dreams, and I am pleased to up the pastrymaking factor of my tableside life. Got pie? Eat it -- then blog about it.

Here is a picture of Michelle and Greg in the "pumpkin pie enjoyment zone." Sky-high pie society over there, mmm-hmmm.

A Few Retro Recipes (From a Blogging-Inept Poster...)

While perusing my mom's cookbooks today to figure out what to make for her birthday dinner, I ran across this humdinger of a pie book. There are some killer recipes in it, as well as some pretty stellar pictures of pie-bakers back in the day. Thought I'd share some of them.

Here's a recipe for a green tomato pie (Em, is this how your dad makes his?) I've been wanting to try this for some time, but will have to wait until my first tomatoes show up this summer. Maggie Kate, maybe you'll be back by then? This one seems to strike a nice balance between sweet and tart.

Toward the end of the book was this little recipe for a Buttermilk Sky Pie. I wonder how it would compare to the recipe posted earlier in this blog with its additional sugar and eggs...and its additional bit of sky?

And for those of you out there who are struggling with your pie crusts, here's a little problem-solving clinic. It may seem a little common sense, but who wouldn't want to refer to the pie crust clinic in all its glory?

All it takes is a bit of practice, and we, too, can be as proud of our pies as this woman:

Nothing-In-The-House: A Brief Phrase History

Oh Georgy

So why is this blog called 'nothing-in-the-house?,' you might wonder. Well, it is a phrase that I think has a certain...'je ne sais quoi,' but also comes from some reading I did in my 1968 edition of 'The Study of American Folklore' by Jan Harold Brunvand (purchased at Crow Books).

Here's what Brunvand has to say, "It was with 'Nothing-in-the-house Pies' that the early American housewife showed her best form. These were either concocted from otherwise insipid fruits--green currants or huckleberries, and elderberries, for instance--or from unlikely ones such as grapes or rhubarb. The out-and-out 'mock' pies required the greatest daring--crushed crackers could be made to taste like an apple filling, with the proper seasoning, and either vinegar or field-sorrel flavored cream pie might pass for lemon. One mock mincemeat pie was made from green tomatoes[my dad has made this, and LOVES it.], and another from rolled crackers and raisins properly seasoned. In some families there was a traditional design, often a monogram initial, that was cut or punched into the top crusts of pies as a last flourish."

So there you have it. Now go make that field-sorrel(?) taste like lemon cream pie!

A Word on Crust

Emmy Lou introduced me to this crust recipe when we started making pies together last summer. I think it's one of the best crust recipes I've ever come across. The apple cider vinegar makes the crust flakier, sort of like the 7-up in the first post, w/out the sugary 7-up flavor. As with any pie crust, it's probably best to let the dough chill a little bit in the fridge (maybe half an hour) before rolling it out; firmer dough means easier handling. However, I've had mysterious & disasterous results with over-chilling pie dough. Seems like if I leave a hunk of dough in the fridge overnight & try to use it the next day it's tough to roll out & becomes stretchy & shrinks when it bakes! Any of you know why this happens? Well, at any rate, here's the recipe:

makes 4 crusts, which means two double-crust pies or four single crust dealies

In a large mixing bowl, combine:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cups shortening
2 teaspoons salt

A word on "cutting in" the shortening: the trick here is to mix the stuff in with the flour until it gets this grainy consistency. I like to do it with my hands, but you can use a couple butter knives if you don't like getting up to your elbows in pie crust. Mash & separate the shortening into little bits and mix it in with the flour. The shortening's cut in when it's pulverized into pea-sized to marble-sized (probably no bigger than that) clumps. 

Okay, now you'll have to add:
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Again, I like to mix the dough with my hands, but a wooden spoon will also do the trick. You might want to knead the dough with your hands in order to mix in the remainder of the dry ingredients, though. Don't worry about mixing in bigger clumps of shortening. They'll turn into light, flaky layers when the pie bakes.

And that's it! I like to sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of the pie crust, to give it a crunch. You can also brush the top crust with beaten egg before popping it in the oven for a glossy effect. I'm interested in hearing more tips! Please comment if you have any.


Adventures with Buttermilk Pie

Emmy Lou recently emailed me this article from on buttermilk pie. "Buttermilk pie?" quoth I. "What in the deuce is that?"

Well, fair reader, the buttermilk pie is a Southern delicacy. It's known as a chess pie in some circles, and the article refers to it as creme brulee's culinary cousin. It's a simple recipe, mixes up in minutes, and the results are fantastic. The photograph of the pie in the NPR article looks a bit anemic to me; leave it in the oven for an hour and you won't have that problem. And don't be alarmed when the custard puffs up and cracks! The finished pie settles after it cools. Eat it warm and you'll understand why it's compared to creme brulee; chill it in the fridge and it becomes almost like cheesecake, but with a lighter texture and more subtle flavor.

Buttermilk pie does well with a shake of nutmeg on top before you put it in the oven, and I imagine it'll go well with fresh black raspberries come summer.

BUTTERMILK PIE (courtesy of
3 eggs (or 4 eggs for less sweet version)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour, plus a little for dusting
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cups buttermilk for less sweet version)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Beat eggs slightly and add sugar and flour. Then add melted butter and mix well. Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix.

3. Dust the unbaked pie shell with a little bit of flour. Pour batter into shell, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top.

4. Bake at 325 degrees until the custard is set, approximately 1 hour.

Maine Pie

This is an apple pie I made and brought to my friend Jamie's cottage on Mt. Desert Island (Acadia) in Maine this summer. We warmed it in the crisper and over the course of 4 days, we ate it all.

I like spelling things like 'Humble Pie'(to make people eat it) or '609'(for the residents of 609 Ann St.) or 'USA'(for the 4th of July) or 'Jesus' or making cool shapes on the crusts of my pies.

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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