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.

Cranberry Chess Pie

Fig Pistachio Tarte Tatin

Peppermint Pattie Tart

Whiskey & Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

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