Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Blueberry Pie Elf

For Christmas my mom gave me a copy of a re-print of the 1959 children's classic The Blueberry Pie Elf, by Jane Thayer and with pictures by Seymour Fleishman. It is the story of a little elf, Elmer, who loves blueberry pie so much that he tries to convince the family (whose house he lives in) to make him one by helping them out with household chores. Apple and cherry pies just won't do for little Elmer--only blueberry! I won't reveal how he finally communicates this message to the family, but I will share some of my favorite illustrations from the book...

I hope you also received some lovely little treasures (or lovely little pies) this holiday season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shaker Lemon Pie at Scratch

At Scratch Bakery In Durham

n Tuesday my friend Lora took me out to lunch at Durham's new favorite bakery, Scratch. The place, run by "pie queen" Phoebe Lawless, has been getting a lot of props lately, from the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, and Bon Appetit. Plus our friends Emily and Whitney work there, and we've been fans of Scratch's stand at the Durham Farmers' Market for a while now.

The cafe is bright and clean, with mustard yellow and aquamarine walls, and cute chalkboard signs penned by Emily. The pie case is extensive, and the lunch menu, which features numerous savory pies, as well as soup, salad and sandwiches, is just as tempting. Lora and I both ordered the pepper and hominy soup-- she had hers with a fried baloney sandwich, and I went for the hot pimento cheese sandwich.

Shaker Lemon Pie

By the time we were finished, we were both really full, so we decided to split a piece of the Shaker Lemon pie. It was a double crust number, with real lemon rinds inside. And WOW, it might just be my new favorite. The lemon rinds give the filling a bitter, almost marmalade taste, along with the tartness of lemon and sweetness of sugar, all encased in a butter crust. I haven't tried my hand at baking one yet, but I think I might have to make it for my family's Christmas dinner this year. This recipe from smitten kitchen seems close to the one we tried.

I can't wait for my next trip to Scratch to try the turnip crostada, chocolate sea salt tart, or chess pie. This is not the last you will hear about the place here, I'm sure!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pie For Your Tree

Check out these adorable felt pie ornaments made by Amy Evans Streeter. Streeter is an artist living in Oxford, Mississippi who has a great love for pie, as evidenced by her paintings and numerous pie-themed posts on her blog, Made In Mississippi. She is also making these ornaments with red and lavender backgrounds, and if you contact her, she might just sell you some!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Potomac Thanksgiving Pies

"soup and grace in the library?"

I spent this Thanksgiving with my friend Jamie's family (as well as Jamie himself, Anna, Bob, Monique, and more pals) in Potomac, Maryland. I arrived to a bustling house of dough rolling, sweet potato blending, and dog show watching. As dinner approached, we were given "task cards" to help prepare for the feast. I joined John on the "water team," whose task, I must say, was rather delayed, waiting for the "ice team" to finish theirs! Michael was put on "device box," which was meant to collect everyone's cell phones and lock them away during dinner (how NELPy), but I don't think that really happened. Bob, pictured above, was on "soup serving", which meant serving little espresso cups full of sweet potato soup on a silver tray, for the soup toast in the library. He was quite the perfect butler.

Dinner was SO delicious and plentiful--highlights for me were the spicy mac and cheese, mashed rutabaga (sorry Leslie), green beans, and sweet potato casserole but I'm sure I am forgetting something because everything was amazing. Now let's get on to the pies.

In addition to various Thanksgiving cookies, there was a delicious apple cranberry pie, two pumpkin pies, and I made a bittersweet chocolate pecan pie. I adapted the recipe from Gourmet. It is as follows:

Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie


1 4-oz, 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup agave-maple syrup blend

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water. Stir. Remove from heat when melted.

2. Roll out chilled dough and place in a greased and floured pie pan, fluting the crust.

3. Spread chocolate in the bottom of pie shell and let set a bit, then cover with pecans. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and agave-maple blend in a bowl. Pour over pecans.

4. Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Serve with bourbon whipped cream and enjoy!

I am pretty into this combination. Usually I think that pecan pie is too sweet, so using maple-agave blend (you could also just use maple syrup or brown rice syrup) instead of corn syrup helps with that, as does the bittersweet chocolate. When I made this a second time, for the WXYC Sinterklaas Party, I sprinkled some sea salt crystals on top. Yum.

We topped ours off with Bourbon whipped cream, as Michael is demonstrating here.

Many thanks to Leslie and James for hosting and welcoming me to a delicious and lovely Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pennsylvannia Diner Fights Pie Waste

...a serious problem.

Another proven method for combating pie waste is to use your mouth.

Thanks Diane and Jorge for sending.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Indiana Thanksgiving Pies

I unfortunately haven't been unable to spend Thanksgiving with my family for the past five years or so. North Carolina to northern Indiana is a long trek, and Vermont to Indiana even farther, especially with the Christmas trip home just a few weeks away.

But my mom sent me some photos of our family's Thanksgiving pies, enjoyed at my aunt and uncle's house in South Bend, IN. Here is my mom's pumpkin pie, with turkeys trotting around the perimeter. You can surely see where I got my love of pies, and my penchant for crust design.

Here is the pie board at their dinner, with the above pumpkin pie made by my mom, an apple cranberry with an oak leaf crust design made by my aunt Chantelle, and a blueberry pie made by another dinner guest.

Check back here soon for more Thanksgiving pie re-caps. What pies did you enjoy this holiday?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Galette at MAV's

For the past five years I have gone to Portland, Maine for Thanksgiving. This year, though, my friends Diane & Jorge got married there in late-October, so I made my trek a month early.

I stayed with my friend Maria (MAV) who writes the beautiful 3191 blog. After she picked me up from the airport, we hit the Rosemont Market for some lunch and ingredients, and then both settled into her apt/studio and got to work. She was printing cards on her letterpress and I was set up in the kitchen to make a galette.

See this and more of her photos here

She recommended a recipe from David Tanis' cookbook "A Platter of Figs" for a rectangular apple tart. I followed his recipe, with some adaptations, like using half whole wheat pastry flour and leaving the apple skins on. My recipe is as follows:

Apple Galette

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, with 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
8 medium apples of similar size but various varieties
1 c. sugar + extra for sprinkling
1 c. water

1. Make crust as per the directions and refrigerate. Meanwhile, core and slice apples as thin as possible. Reserve the cores for the glaze.

2. For the glaze, combine cores, sugar and water in saucepan and simmer until thickened. Strain and reserve. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. When the glaze is finished, roll out the dough in a rectangle on parchment paper. Transfer the parchment paper and dough to a rectangular baking sheet, and place apple slices in 5 rows over the crust. Leave a little crust around the edges to fold over the sides. Sprinkle sugar over the apples and bake for 45 min. Before serving, reheat the glaze and brush over the apples.

After we finished our work for the day, Maria and I had ours with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, but we thought it would also be delicious with a slice of aged, grainy gouda! This recipe is super simple and really showcases the fruit.

Though I am already missing Thanksgiving deliciousness, outdoor fires, and folk-freestying with the Portland crew, our October reunion in Maine was pretty spectacular. It was peak fall color time, I witnessed and celebrated the marriage of two favorite people, with even more favorite people, and just at the moment that the galette came out of the oven, there was a double rainbow, visible from Maria's apartment! For real no joke!

Maine (& MAV) = Magic. Miss you guys.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pie Town, New Mexico

Main St, Pie Town, NM, 1940

During spurts of boredom or procrastination, I like to browse the Library of Congress photos on Flickr. Especially those commissioned by the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression and World War I. One day I naturally searched the photostream for "pie" and came up with these Kodachrome photographs from Pie Town, New Mexico.

Apparently, Pie Town was named as such because it was the home of a dried apple pie company established in the 1920s. In 1940, on New Deal money from the Farm Security Association, photographer Russell Lee traveled to this New Mexico homesteading community to document how its residents were coping with the economic struggles of the Great Depression.

Homesteader feeding his daughter at the Pie Town Fair

From the photographs and this Smithsonian article from 2005, Lee indeed found a depressed town, though this is in fact, what he was charged to do. Aside from giving "starving artists" jobs, the FSA and WPA writers and photographers work served as "proof" of America's poor living conditions and served as evidence in the push for more New Deal relief legislation.

I can't profess that it's not the dirt roads, dusty dresses, and weathered faces that lure me in to these photographs. But another reason why I like them is because they show that despite failing crops and empty pocket books, the residents of Pie Town were still living life, a life that could still be joyful at times. And one of the main way Lee shows this, is through food.

At the free barbeque dinner in Pie Town-- my favorite photo from the series

Just look at these women, serving up pies and cakes at the free barbeque dinner...laughing, maybe at a joke or over the awkwardness of being photographed by a stranger. And those aren't just any old flat, sloppy desserts they're slicing...they are clearly dishes that were prepared and presented with thought, love, and style.

And this was one of the perhaps unforeseen benefits of the WPA and FSA documentation efforts. It was maybe the first documentary project that drew attention to how Americans actually live-- how they live, what they eat, and who sits around their tables.

Serving up the barbeque

Food (and of course, pie) can say a lot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pie Chart

...another great find from Lora. Happy Friday! Six days until Thanksgiving...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Persimmon Pie for Marcie

I can't get enough of this orange color, which happens to match my wallpaper!

I haven't posted for a while. It's not that I haven't been baking pies...there was a Kentucky peach in August and a North Carolina apple in October (not to mention all those pies I made in Maine last spring!) of which I am still awaiting photos. And I can't wait to show you the beautiful pictures my friend Maria took of the apple galette I made when I visited Portland, ME last month (in the meantime, check out her lovely blog here).

But today I ran into my ever-inspiring professor and thesis advisor, Dr. Marcie Ferris. She mentioned that she checks Nothing-In-The-House every day and noticed I was overdue for a post. Yikes!

She's right. On top of that, the New York Times was boasting the *NEW* hipness of pies (new?!) just yesterday. Those two little nudges prompted me to take action.


So I got home today to find that one, just one, of the persimmons I picked from a not-so-secret tree in Durham was very ripe. Almost too ripe. And the others are not quite there yet. So a personal persimmon pie it was.

The 1 persimmon gave me about a 1/4 c. of pulp, just enough for 3 tiny tarts. Here's the recipe I used. I reduced it by 1/4, but I'll give the proportions for a full pie here.

Persimmon Pie


Nothing-in-the-House pie crust
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups half-and-half or milk (I used soy milk)

1 cup persimmon pulp

2 Tblsp. melted butter

dash lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all filling ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes more. Cool and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or perhaps some coconut bliss ice cream?

You can't see it really, but I marked it with a "P" for persimmon. or professor.

It doesn't look like much-- I wish it retained the bright orange color of the flesh, once cooked-- but it sure tasted delicious. Next time I might up the ratio of persimmon pulp and add a dash of fresh ginger.

Also, while you ruminate what pie(s) you be making this Thanksgiving, jam my favorite pie song of the moment, "Mighty Fine Pie" by Endless Boogie. It's a rocker.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pie Fixes Everything

Taken by Mark Ross at Market Diner on Harry Hines in Dallas, TX. Sent in by Nothing-in-the-House correspondent Stacy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eberly's apples, last days of summer, and pie

Vintage apple sign at Eberly's Orchard, North Liberty, IndianaPhotos by Abbi Hoiles Gee. See more of her photos of Eberly's here.

Every fall growing up, my family would drive out to Eberly's Orchard (previously blogged about when by friends Abbi and Michael made a visit with my parents a few years ago), near my grandparents' house in North Liberty, Indiana. Don Eberly, who still runs the orchard, but on a more limited scale, is a local hero former-school bus driver and a farmer, with a penchant for puns and folksy sayings. His apple barn is full of bags of apple varieties (including some heirloom varieties, like Northern Spies), folk art and handwritten signs with witty political messages and jokes.

Handmade signs at Eberly's Orchard, North Liberty, IN
As I recall, there were old metal toy tractors for kids to ride on, and bins of gourds and pumpkins. My favorite part though, aside from using the straight wooden ladder to reach the high-hanging fruit, was probably watching the apples go through the cider press, and tasting a sample, which Don would give us, straight from the spout. Eberly's is still my favorite orchard, hands down, even after my time in Vermont-- land of apples.

In keeping with our family tradition, my mom, grandma and aunt went out to Eberly's last weekend to pick apples and share stories of the old North Liberty days. This is my grandma Georgette, talking to Don at his cash register.

My mom made a pie from Eberly's apples they collected on this trip. Her apple pies always have the most delicious crumb topping. I've never tried to replicate it, because I'd always just rather eat hers.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Muscadine Hull Pie

Last Saturday a carload of friends and I took a field trip to Herndon Hills Farm in Durham to pick muscadine grapes. A few days later, we got together and turned them into six pints of jam and one and a half pints of muscadine-ginger simple syrup. After we were done canning, we realized that there was a bowl of hulls still left in my refrigerator-- I had forgotten to include them in our sauce pot. So I scoured the internet for "muscadine hull" pie (which is really a thing, and a true nothing-in-the-house pie, at that!) and adapted a few different recipes to create my own.

Muscadine Hull Pie

Nothing in the house pie crust
4 c. muscadine hulls
2 c. juice from the hulls
1.5 c. sugar
1/3-1/2 c. corn starch or arrowroot
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. lemon zest

1. Follow the directions for the Nothing in the House pie crust and refrigerate.

2. Remove the pulp and seeds from the muscadines (use to make jam or simple syrup!). Boil the hulls until tender in enough water to cover them. Drain and reserve the juice, setting the hulls aside.

3. Roll out half of the pie crust and fit into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Return unrolled top crust to the fridge while you prepare the filling.

3. Mix together the sugar, cornstarch/arrowroot, vanilla, ginger, lemon, and juice. Pour this mixture over the reserved hulls and let stand for 20 minutes. Pour the hulls and mixture into the pie crust. Roll out the top crust, cut into strips and weave across the top of the pie to form a lattice top.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes more.

I took the pie to the monthly Wednesday Old Time Jam at Nightlight, to be enjoyed by musicians, listeners, and bartenders!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Luby's Pecan Pie

from Luby's in Austin, TX. Another submission by Nothing-In-The-House Texas correspondent Brodie.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010


Nothing-In-The-House hopes to take a trip to this combination pie shop/design studio in the next year...

PieLab from PieLab on Vimeo.

"Pie + Conversation = Ideas / Ideas + Design = Positive Change"

Find out more about Greensboro, Alabama's PieLab here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Appeltart voor ontbijt

On their recent honeymoon stop in Amsterdam, Lora and Joe stopped in at Latei for some pie for breakfast! This from Lora...
It's super cute. They use all local ingredients and they sell vintage items in the store- it's where I got your little snow globe. They do coffee (koffie) and pie (taart) along with sandwiches and on Friday nights they have Indian thali with all local ingredients.
Pie for Breakfast Internationale!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wild Blackberry Lemon-Goat Cheese Tart

I'm working out at Celebrity Dairy Goat Farm for the month of July, learning to make cheese and filling in for Lora while she is away on her honeymoon. There are two things we have a lot of out here at the Dairy--one is goat cheese (clearly) and the other is blackberries. I've been foraging for them in the woods and from the patch outside the cheese room almost everyday. I needed to put all this usufruct to use, and remembered that Brooke, the Celebrity Dairy Inn Keeper, had made this Lemon-Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart on Pi(e) Day. See Lora's post about it here.

Wild Blackberry Lemon-Goat Cheese Tart
adapted from Maggie Foard's goatcheese

Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved
16 oz. fresh chevre (this is about $20 worth of goat cheese, which I wouldn't be able to afford, necessarily, if I wasn't working at a goat farm! Maggie's recipe calls for 8oz. chevre and 8 oz. goat ricotta, but I'm sure you could use the less-expensive cow ricotta to save $.)
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 c. + 2 Tblsp. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 Tblsp. lemon zest
Blackberry jam/preserves (I made a quick jam, with 1 c. of fresh berries and 1/2 c. sugar, cooked on low until thick)

1. Preheat over to 350. Blend chevre, eggs, 2/3 c. of sugar, and lemon juice. Zest the lemon and combine with the 2 Tblsp. of sugar. Combine the chevre & lemon mixtures until smooth. 

2. Pour the mixture into the tart shell, place on a cookie sheet at bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let the tart cool on an oven rack. 

3. When cool, spread jam over tart, and garnish with lemon or fresh blackberries.

I took it over to my friends' Phaedra and Justin's house, where it was accompanied by Justin's delicious savory tomato goat cheese tart. Tale (or should I say tail? maybe not) of two goat cheese tarts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Babies, Banjos, and Blueberry Pie

After my stint in the woods, I went up to Brooklin, ME for what has become an annual visit to Nathan and Clara, Magpie and Eleanor of Stoneset Farm (you may recall the pie potluck we had there last year). We caught up and discussed grad school and religion, Lady Gaga and Swan Lake (Eleanor, age 3, is into it now-- both Russian and American versions), farming and feminism, played a lot of blocks and a lot of music, and worked in the green house.

On my last evening there, we picked garlic scapes and made pesto out of them, which Clara spread on delicious homemade pizza. I whipped up a blueberry pie (using this recipe) with frozen Stoneset blueberries (it was not quite blueberry season yet). Jamie and Anna came down from Southwest Harbor for a lovely dinner out on the picnic table, followed by some banjo playing.

Blueberry Pie, with Stoneset Farm homemade apple cider and blueberry wine

Magpie lives up to her name

Jamie takes a cue from Magpie and maintains his platelikkin' tradition

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pie Thief Hits Baltimore!

Lock those pies in their safes, folks! Nothing-in-the-House Baltimore/Boston correspondent Jamie sent in this pie thievery report...

It was a delicious pie, made from: ~3.5c strawberries cut into big chunks and 3.5c chopped rhubarb. The fruit was mixed with .5c brown sugar, .5c regular sugar, .25c cornstarch, and 1t ground cinnamon. The crust was the NitH (Nothing-in-the-House) standard crust. The bottom was pre-baked and the top was formed into a lattice and brushed with a sweetened egg wash.

The pie was so good it attracted a real pie thief as it cooled on the windowsill of 902 Gorsuch St. in Baltimore.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Impromptu Sweet Potato Pie

I haven't been posting here lately, because I've been living the life of a transcendentalist luddite in the Maine woods for the past two months. But it is a known fact that despite other ascetic restrictions, pie (though probably only vegetarian) was a foundational item in the transcendentalist diet, especially for breakfast. So too was it for our own Walden/Fruit Lands-esque experiment.

While up at my friend's cottage in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island (Acadia), I whipped up this sweet potato pie, after realizing we had no dessert to accompany our local seafood feast. I took the recipe from New Englander and 'Domestic Scientist' Fannie Farmer, whose cookbook was on hand. We ate it by the fire with Mille Bornes and banjo serenades.

Fannie Farmer Sweet Potato Pie

1 pie crust (split recipe at right in half, used only all-purpose flour)
2 c. mashed, cooked sweet potatoes, cooled slightly
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. milk, half-and-half, or cream
1/4 c. sugar (I used brown, substituting some maple syrup)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tblsp. rum (I used bourbon)
4 Tblsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat the oven to 425. Combine all the ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into piecrust. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 300. Bake for another 50 minutes or until the filling remains firm when shaken. Top with bourbon/maple whipped cream and enjoy!

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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