Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NELPie Cart ChaCha Line

All was quiet in the dining hall. The 6 tables were set with 9 places each and laid with a letterpressed menu for the evening's banquet, which foretold of savory wholesome dishes and good nutrition. Through the paned windows, the western light cast its glint from across the lake, which was serene and glassed at this hour. The only sound was the faint din of the breeze upon the hinged door, for all the students were bathing in their last moments on the docks and cliffs of Wohelo. When suddenly, HARK! a clamor of tin and aluminum, foot and floor, wheel and ball-bearing, erupted from the kitchen, an uproar that could only be that of chaotic celebration and fruity and heavily-sweetened concoctions! Whatever could this disturbance be, but none other than...THE NELPie CART CHACHA LINE!!!!

Sure to spoil savory suppers everywhere by pairing provocative dancing with provocative dessert, the NELPie Cart and its chacha devotees boasted 11 fresh (made that day) and homemade pies:
Crustless Coconut Cream (Obama family recipe) Pie
Banana Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie (rectangular!)
Mixed Berry pie
2 Wild Maine Blueberry Pie (Blueberries from Stoneset Farm)
2 Mixed Berry Rustic Tarts
Mixed Berry Pie
Raspberry-Blueberry Ginger Pie
Chocolate Pudding Pie
and a Vegan Avocado Pie
The Vegan Avocado Pie (also raw) has been a favorite of mine for the past year for its lightness, flavor, and ease. I've made it a lot but have yet to blog it. The recipe is as follows:

Vegan Avocado Pie

1 packet graham crackers
1/2 c. Earth Balance (for vegan), unsalted butter (for non-vegan), melted
Cream from 2 cans coconut milk
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1/4 c. confectioner's sugar

1. In a food processor, place the graham crackers, and pulse until crumbs form. Add the melted butter through the feeding tube and mix to combine. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

2. Meanwhile put 1 can coconut milk into the fridge. After 1 hour, open, and spoon the cream from the coconut water.

3. Add sugar, lime juice, and 1 ripe mashed avocado to the coconut cream. Mix until incorporated and pour into graham cracker crust.

4. Refridgerate one hour until set. Top with mango/kiwi for decoration. If desired, mix another can of coconut cream with 1/4 c. powdered sugar to use as "whipped cream." Enjoy!!! Crust can be made with crushed pistachio, if desired. Agave nectar can replace sugar, for a healthier sweetness.

After the NELPie Cart Dancers wove their kickline through the tables, summoning all NELPers from their cabins and beehives, tempting them from their whole sprouted grains and and beta carotene, they lined up their wares on the table, and served them with a devilish dollop of whipped cream. Just what it did to those NELPers...well, the photographs (by J. Budd and Laura L.) speak for themselves...

Watch out! The NELPie Cart may be coming to ravage a dining hall and ruin an appetite near you!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Folkways Pie

I made a 'Folkways pie' to share with the staff on my last day as an intern at Smithsonian Folkways. It was a classic apple (with a touch of cranberry) pie. The sun in the background is a riff on the Smithsonian Folkways logo. As became my adopted joke motto--for style, wardrobe, music and food--when I was there: "Is that Folkways enough??!?"

If you are unfamiliar with Smithsonian Folkways, get familiar. Folkways Records was a record label started by collector, Mo Asch, in 1948. He put out a varied and eccentric collection of American and International Folk music, World music, spoken word, soundscapes, instructional albums, nature sounds, etc. Some favorites include Michael Hurley's first album First Songs, Shirley Collins' False True Lovers, Richard Lerman's Travelon Gamelon: Music for Bicycles, Jim Nollman's Playing Music with Animals, and of course, the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music. In 1987, the Smithsonian bought Folkways, adding their moniker and support of the national museum, and they have continued to uphold Mo Asch's mission as well as put out some excellent new albums and old archival materials.

Plus the collection of almost 3,000 albums contains some great songs about pie!:
-Pumpkin Pie by Joe and Odell Thompson
-Custard Pie Blues by Sonny Terry's Washboard Band
-The Preacher and the Slave (Pie In The Sky) by Cisco Houston, Joe Glazer, and Pete Seeger
-No More Pie by Ella Jenkins
Even a poem:
-Calico Pie by Edward Lear

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Golden Birthday Pie Party Potluck!

On April 26th, my 26th birthday, I drove up to Stoneset Farm, the home of my friends Nathan & Clara and their young daughters, Eleanor and Magpie, in Brooklin, Maine. They had organized a beautiful pie potluck party for my birthday and the birthday of their friend Fred (the day before). I arrived (with a pear-ginger pie in tow) a little late, to this dreamy scene of a picnic table full of delicious pies (at least 10), dear friends, kids and dogs running about, the start of spring on the farm, and a new little baby Magpie (how apropos) to meet.
 The pie table--note Eleanor's little custard pie in the red dish, and Alison's amazing leeky cheese pie (leeks and all the leftover cheese in her house.) Some other favorites were Clara's (she also took these lovely photos) custard pie with eggs from their chickens, a spinach mushroom eggy pie, a banana cream pie, and a wild Maine blueberry with a few strawberries pie. The spread made for quite a colorful and copious plate of pie and by the end of the afternoon, EVERY pie was completely gone, leaving us wondering how many more pies would we need to add for there to be any leftover? We followed the pie with some fiddle tunes and swinging. I'm so grateful to Nathan and Clara and their friends for making my golden birthday so special--I can't think of a better way to have spent the day. Thank you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How To Make Apple Pie and See The World

Last winter I taught a week-long class for 1st &2nd graders entitled, "How To Make Apple Pie and See The World" (title taken from this book) at Mt. Vernon Community School in Alexandria, VA. We sewed oven mitts, made baker's hats with apple prints, read about life cycles of apples and dairy, illustrated a family food tradition, learned pie fractions, and of course, made and ate a delicious apple pie. We also wrote our very own pie song. Here's the song the class composed, accompanied by a picture of our pie:


Two of the students were so excited by our pie melody that they wrote an additional song, inspired by Neil Young's "Love Is A Rose," which they knew from a children's cover album. Here's their version:

Let's bake a pie right now.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is the Whoopie Pie a Pie?

Though I have spent a good deal of time in Maine and grew up in Amish country, I didn't pay whoopie pies much heed until one of the reference librarians at the American Folklife Center came in with this New York Times article, raving about the sandwiched dessert. After a long discussion with her on the merits of the whoopie, its history, and the difference between a whoopie pie and a moon pie, I figured it was my obligation as an aspiring folklorist and pie enthusiast to give these traditional treats a whirl and investigate the question: is the whoopie pie indeed a pie?

I followed this recipe from the Times article, which happens to be from Zingerman's Bakehouse, a favorite Ann Arbor haunt. The cakes were indeed dry and not-so-sweet, which I thought was perfect, especially considering the OBSCENE amount of butter called for in the filling. Next time I would cut down on the butter, because when I put the whoopies in the fridge, the filling congealed in a not-so-appealing way, more reminiscent of biting into a stick of butter than not.

Since baking these whoopies once in Alexandria, with expert tasters Abby and Jake, and again at NELP in Maine, I tried a pumpkin whoopie (which I prefer to chocolate) at the Dutch Country Market in Laurel, MD and a brownie whoopie, homemade by a pair of little girls at the Bowdoinham, ME Farmers' Market. Both were excellent.

So is a whoopie a pie? Recipe-wise, it seems more like an inverted cupcake to me, but it does utilize the basic pie structure of filling surrounded by 2 doughs. But in the end I find the question negligible--no big whoop(ie).

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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