Sing for your pie!

Last night I made this Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie after I got home from my daughter’s chorus concert. I had to drop by the store first because I was about out of eggs and pie crust stuff. Can’t let that happen. So I didn’t begin baking until about 9:00. Both pies I made were baked, cooling, and cleaned up by 10:00. So they were definitely what I classify as easy pies.

I have to admit that I made them because I was grateful–and relieved. I don’t know how many middle school chorus concerts you’ve been to, but they vary widely in both presentation and behavior. Well, I’m here to tell you that those kids sounded AWESOME. And I’m not just saying that ’cause I love my kid. It was obvious that the chorus teacher had worked really hard with the kids. I could tell that my daughter was proud of her work–and it had paid off! So I made this Reese’s Peanut Butter pie for the chorus teacher. I’m taking it to her this morning with this note. I couldn’t resist a pie card. After being a teacher for many years, I know that they get lots of complaints and not a lot of thanks. So I’m bringing some yummy thanks today to the chorus teacher. If you’re reading this and you’re a teacher, too, then I say, “Thanks!”

A note or two about this Reese’s pie. I had some extra filling, so I took a little ramekin full up to my husband, who was working late. To give him the full effect, I stuck an extra peanut butter cup in there. He was glad for the treat and declared that it was delicious. Another thing–the graham cracker crust (store-bought) was kinda crumbly. So I hope taste wins over organization. I’m hoping a pie with candy in it makes people feel forgiving. Lastly, if you think this pie looks yummy from the top, you should know that there is ANOTHER layer of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups under that filling stuff. Decadent.

If you read yesterday’s blog, you know that I promised a pineapple coconut pie. Well, after I made the peanut butter one, I was still inspired, so I decided to bake the pineapple coconut one for the office staff at the middle school. I mean, I’m going inside anyway, and those people need some thanking, too. So I whipped it up–preparation was only 5 minutes, and baking was 45. It smelled terrific and turned out solid-looking. Hope they’ll enjoy it. It’s the last day before fall break in our county, so I know they’ll need help surviving this Friday!

So today marks 34 days until my fortieth birthday, and I’ve just about lost track of how many pies I’ve made. So far, here’s the list:

Peach Pie

Banana Cream Pie

Apple Crumb Pie

Chocolate Creme Pie

Jack Daniels Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Peanut Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Pineapple Coconut Pie

That’s NINE pies in 6 days. My kitchen’s in high gear and my tummy’s full, but BOY am I having fun.

Goodbye Pies

Today was my last day at work. I’ve been a preschool director for over 3 years, and since our house is on the market, I resigned my position so that there would be a smooth transition for the school. I’ve been transitioning out for several months, and today, the last day is here. It’s been a huge blessing working with wonderful ladies on the staff, and it’s so rewarding to do things every day that impact children and families. I’ve learned so much from my time as director, but I know it’s time to go. This is the longest I’ve stayed at any job–guess I have sort of a short attention span.

I decided to make some pies last night that I could take in to work today. Before I tell you about those, I wanted to share a bit more about yesterday’s whiskey pie. Our friend came by to pick up his pie in the evening, and thankfully, he said I should try a slice. I didn’t hesitate to try it, and I have a very good report. First of all, the pie came out in a pretty good slice. Here’s a photo:Secondly, the thing tasted so good that I kept making yummy noises. The Jack Daniels really did enhance the flavor, and we all know that chocolate never hurt a pie.

On to the other two pies–that makes for THREE in one day (pie-makin’ fool!). I made two super-fast pies. One was called a peanut butter pie , although I think it should just be called peanut because of how it looks. It was from my Easy as Pie cookbook, and the ingredients were very simple: peanut butter, peanuts, sugar, and a few other things. It smelled so good while it was baking, and I can’t wait to taste it.

The next pie I baked was a pumpkin pie. The main motivation was that I had the stuff already AND that I needed to take two pies in order for everyone to have a slice of something. It was even easier than the peanut butter pie. The recipe was on the can. I’m a fan of canned pumpkin. Once, when I taught second grade, I made a pumpkin pie with my class FROM SCRATCH. Starting with a real pumpkin. It was really hard work, especially with 20 eight year olds and a convection oven. They had fun, though, and the pie tasted OK.

Today’s pumpkin pie was really happy-smelling in the oven, and it reminded me that Thanksgiving is not so far away! It also made me check the fridge for Cool Whip. Whew. I’ve got it. LOVE, love, love whipped cream on pumpkin pie. And not just one of those sissy sized “dollops.” I need at least a WAD or maybe even enough to cover my whole slice. And for me, no canned whipped cream, only Cool Whip in a tub. Just my preference.

I hope everyone enjoyed those pumpkin and peanut pies on our last day together. Sniff… I received some lovely cards and gifts from my coworkers and friends, and they all pitched in to make me a Mexican feast! So much delicious food! Thanks guys!

I got to taste both of the pies. I enjoyed both, but a lot of people really seemed to like the peanut pie. It was moist and salty and sweet all at the same time, and it struck me as the type of pie I’d love to have with coffee. Both pies were excellent with Cool Whip.

Since I made these pies last night, I’ll need to make one for today. That  one’s gonna be pineapple coconut pie. I’ve got to take something to my daughter’s chorus concert tonight anyway and, surprisingly, I happen to have both coconut and pineapple around.This one’s in the Easy as Pie book also, so I’m expecting it to be just that. You’ll get the report tomorrow on how the coconut pineapple turned out.

35 days to go, and my pants are already tight. 🙂

 

I bought it for the pie…really!

Today I started off by shopping for this important ingredient. Now, I confess that I do enjoy a whiskey sour from time to time (extra cherries, please–and by extra, I mean at least 5); however, today’s purchase was for two valuable tablespoons of flavor in a Jack Daniels Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie.I found this recipe in my PIE cookbook that I ordered from Amazon. It was pretty easy to make. The most time-consuming part was pre-baking the crust. I followed the instructions in my book (this guy believes in crispy crusts and almost always recommends partially pre-baking a crust), and the pre-baking took 30 minutes in all. I even had to use my pie beans to weight down the crust and poke holes in the crust at just the right time. This pie took THREE different oven temperatures to complete.

Today’s pie is for our friend, Jay. He grew up around here, and he’s very involved in local theatre–my husband loves the theatre, and even though I didn’t see shows before I was married, I’ve become a big fan of the stage in the last 15 years.

Anyway, Jay has directed and produced several shows over the years, and he’s won many awards for his work in the theatre. He’s also a talented actor. Every show that I’ve seen has been excellent, but a favorite of mine that Jay directed was The Great American Trailer Park Musical. The singing and acting were fabulous, I laughed so hard I cried, and I went back to see it a second time. I mean, who can resist hits like “I’m Gonna Make Like a Nail, and Press On?” Jay’s got a lot to be proud of, and his support of the arts in our community deserves thanks. So Jay…thanks! This pie makes me think of you because it’s southern, sweet, and–with that Jack Daniels in there–it knows how to have fun. Well, it was a good baking day, so the pie’s finished before 2:00. Jay’s not supposed to pick it up until 6:00. I sure hope there’s some left when he gets here. Y’all should smell this thing. I’m considering making up a story about how everyone gives me the first slice or something. Hmmmmm…..OR I could just give him this pie instead:After all, I didn’t say what KIND of pie it was….

Well, according to my countdown app, there are 36 days until the big 4-0, and my house has never smelled so good!

Wow!

Today is the last day for my daughter to be a 12-year-old. Tomorrow–a teenager. What a great kid she is, and I can’t believe how fast she’s growing up. Her dad and I are so proud of who she’s becoming! One of the big dreams my husband and I had together was to be parents, and she made our dreams come true! She’s the reason for today’s pie–chocolate cream pie was her request. Our day tomorrow is full from dawn to dusk, so we’re celebrating tonight. Even though her dad and I will take her shopping for a cell phone (her first) in a few days, I hope she’ll remember the pie a lot longer than the phone!

“Ruthie! Wake up! Can you hear me? I’ve got hot chocolate pie filling and I can’t come up!” was what I shouted this morning at 7:10, which is about 10 minutes after she should get up for school. About 20 minutes before that–6:50 to be exact–I realized that I would need to make today’s pie BEFORE I took her to school and went to work. Today’s pie. Chocolate creme. With MERINGUE on top.

I tell you that girl was downstairs in 30 seconds or less and said, “Chocolate pie was all I needed to hear.” When she arrived in the kitchen, I was stirring chocolate filling on the stove and realizing that the recipe called for putting the meringue immediately onto the filling. Hmmmmm…..immediately implies that the meringue is already made. OK. So I hurried up and made it. Real quick like. We laughed as I juggled pie-making tasks and finally got the thing ready to go in the oven. Somewhere in there we each tasted the filling and decided that no matter what it looks like in the end, it’ll taste good. Then, as it turns out, we realized we had 15 minutes (that’s how long it bakes) to take showers and get back downstairs. So we shoved it in the oven, set the timer, and ran.

I made it down first when I heard the oven beeping. I opened the oven and loudly exclaimed, “WOW!” For the second time, my daughter ends up in the kitchen, with wet hair this time, and said that she had to see because she wasn’t sure whether my “WOW!” was good or bad.  When she saw the pie cooling on the cake stand, she too declared, “WOW!” That chocolate cream pie with meringue on top just looked really cool. Here’s a glamour shot:

Now. We enjoyed our pie after a yummy dinner of take out Chinese food. Here’s what happened when we cut the pie.

I’m pleased to announce, that with 37 days left in the countdown, we actually have a triangle-ish slice of pie. Now, the meringue shrunk a bit, so it sort of resembled an ill-fitting beret, BUT…man, that pie was good. So super chocolatey. Also, the meringue tasted great and had a very nice texture. Most importantly, the birthday girl loved it enough to ask for a second slice. That’s all any baker can ask. In conclusion, chocolate cream pie with meringue was a success. Indeed, it was a tasty day for this pie maker.

Best Hot Dish

Get a load of this fabulous artwork from a 1964 Arts Club Cookbook I found in my cabinet. Now I want you to know that I look almost exactly like this lady when I bake. It takes a while to get the scarf just right, but one must try…

The book was published in Aliceville, Alabama. I’ve researched in several of these church-lady-type cookbooks. They are famous for simple and delicious recipes and–lucky me–this one had a section about pies. An old friend of mine, Annie Dean, gave me this book when she was cleaning out her recipe cabinet. I knew her years ago when we lived in Powder Springs, Georgia. Annie has since passed away, and I treasure the stack of recipes she gave me. She was a sweet lady. I am considering the chocolate cream pie recipe from this book–my daughter, who will turn 13 in just two days, requested chocolate pie. This book tells on itself–no doubt it was published in the sixties. All of the pie recipes simply state at the end, “Top with meringue.”

Ummmmm…..OK. Lemme get right on that. “Top with meringue.” I’m assuming this means that any self-respecting sixties housewife would know exactly what that was and how to do it. Well, times they are a-changin’. I’m clueless. I mean, I’ve tasted meringue and all, but it should be VERY interesting to figure out. I’ve reviewed the directions in another cookbook. Stay tuned tomorrow for adventures in meringue. We’re having the chocolate cream pie a day early, due to scheduling issues. Keep your fingers (and anything else you’ve got) crossed.

Here’s another shot of how I dress to make pies. Those pumps are super comfy in a steamy kitchen. I do happen to have a small collection of aprons like the one in this picture, but I usually have to hike ’em up to the top, ya know? That’s where all the stuff spills.

So here’s what the poem (which I LOVE) at the bottom says:

“No soil upon the earth is so dear to our eyes

As the soil we first stirred in making mud pies.

She may dress in silk, she may dress in satin,

She may know the language, Greek and Latin:

May know fine art, may love and sigh,

But she is no good, if she can’t make a pie.”

Since nobody wants to be “no good,” then pie I shall make.

Tonight’s pie is Taco Pie. Yep, it’s the first savory pie. This tasty dish was originated by my Dad, and he once won a trophy at his office for “Best Hot Dish.” My family likes it a lot, and there are many variations. It’s full of beans, ground beef, corn, cheddar cheese, pepper and onions. The best part, in my opinion, is the Jiffy corn muffin mix topping.Makes for a delicious top crust. I like it with lots of sour cream and olives on top, although I’m the only olive-eater in my household.  Dad’s recipe has also appeared in at least one church lady cookbook, even though he was a church man.

Today’s pie-baking soundtrack was by Randy Travis. It’s a good CD, but I love #8 especially. “Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling” is a special song for me. It was the song playing when, 33 years ago this month, I walked down the aisle of my church and asked Jesus to come into my heart. It’s a day I won’t forget. And it’s one of the hymns I loved singing to my daughter and later to my son as I rocked them to sleep. My youngest, who is now 7, looked up from his homework today when the song started to play in our kitchen and said, “You sang this to me once.” I could only say, “Yes,” because of the lump in my throat. The lump was there because of how sweet he was in that moment, and because I loved him so big right then, but there was another reason. “Softly and Tenderly” was my Dad’s favorite hymn, and just over a year ago, his nine grandchildren sang it together at his funeral service. I’ll always be indebted to my Dad and Mom for teaching me about Jesus. Always. Now who’d have thought that pie would’ve taken me there?

Anyhow, here’s a picture of my cute little helper today. He was helping me with today’s bonus pie–Apple Crumb Pie. I didn’t really intend to have a two-pie day, but we’re having folks over for dinner, and you can’t just NOT have dessert. So there. Besides, he asked if he could help. Could you turn down that face? I don’t think so.

This apple pie has red hots in it–cinnamon candies. I gotta tell ya, I have no idea what those things are gonna do when they’re cooked, but here’s the before picture. Remember, it’s a crumb pie, so it’s not supposed to look organized.  And here’s the after picture. Man, that stuff tasted awesome! It was well received by all who tasted it. It was NOT pretty, and I can tell you what happens to those red hots…they turn to glue. Tasty, tasty, glue. I don’t know how that pie dish will recover, but it was sure worth it. Lastly, I’ll show you the taco pie. The slices aren’t pretty on that, either, but no one complained. We added olives, cheddar and sour cream. Deeeeeelish. Whew! This baker’s pooped.

Banana Cream Pie

Movie Name: Muppet*vision 3-D (1991)
Quote:

[a banana cream pie comes flying out of the screen]

Kermit the Frog: What is that?

Fozzie Bear: Isn’t it great? It’s my new remote-controlled banana cream pie. Hey Kermit… Watch this!

[Fozzie presses a button and the remote control breaks causing the pie to spin and end up on Fozzie’s face]

Kermit the Frog: Oh, Fozzie, that’s terrible!

Fozzie Bear: [tasting it] Yeah, you’re right… needs more sugar.

This morning, before 9:00 I might add, I made my first ever banana cream pie. My choice of pies had to do with these brown bananas. Though they weren't too pretty on the outside, it turns out that they were exactly right for banana cream pie. The recipe even suggested cutting them into lemon water to keep them from browning. It worked.

This time I used another store-bought crust–a graham cracker one. Eventually, I’ll crush up graham crackers on my own, but this one is fine for today.

I stirred together instant vanilla pudding (I was surprised the recipe didn’t call for banana pudding), sour cream, and bananas and poured them into the crust. This really was a super easy pie. The topping was the most fun. It’s simply made of whipped cream (the source of all good desserts in this world) and cream cheese blended together. The realization I made today is that I need a new hand mixer. Ours has served us well for 15 years, and it still works, but it’s not gonna last too much longer.

Anyway, here’s the fun part. It just seemed to boring to “heap” the topping onto the filling, so I decided to decorate the pie instead. I also remembered that I don’t own pastry bags or tips. So here’s the pastry bag I made by cutting off the corner of a Ziploc bag:

I had fun decorating–definitely not perfect, but interesting for sure!So, below is the finished banana cream pie. I’m waiting for a message back from two ladies I’ve contacted about sharing the pie. One of them said that banana cream pie was her favorite, and the other (a friend of the first) declared that she would like to volunteer to taste any pie at all. I’m hoping to head out shortly to deliver a tasty Sunday afternoon treat. They’re both great people–great moms and wives, happy participants in our schools and community, good neighbors to many. They deserve to be thanked. So here’s a pie toast to you both. Enjoy!

Georgia on my mind

All right. The first pie has been prepared, baked, cooled, and eaten! Here’s the evidence.

First of all, it is worth noting that I accidentally chose this CD as my pie making soundtrack. Not kidding. Didn’t choose it on purpose. I laughed out loud when “American Pie” started playing.

 

I took a shot of these empty bowls. The inside of the large one foreshadows today’s pie adventure…PEACH! I chose peach for a few reasons:

 

  1. Not only do we live in Georgia, but my husband and I met here–actually in Palmetto, Georgia–in June of 1995. Because of this, no matter where I live, Georgia will always be home for my heart. And everyone knows that Georgia is all about the peaches.
  2. Peach is one of my husband’s favorites (see reason #1).
  3. The peaches looked just right at the grocery store.
This time, I used a Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I will eventually make some homemade ones, but in case I suck at that, I decided that I didn’t want to be discouraged right out of the gate. They were super easy to use.
An interesting confession to make–I can’t recall ever peeling a peach before today. It was not that hard, except that my knives aren’t sharp(and they never will be because I put EVERYTHING in the dishwasher) and peaches are SLIPPERY. In any event, they all got into the bowl.
I used a recipe I found online with not too many ingredients: flour, peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, butter. Everything worked out just fine, and I happened to have these cool crust thingies that my mom gave me years ago as part of a Christmas gift. I put them on after about 10 minutes, and they really did help keep the crusts from burning. I took them off for the last 10 minutes to make sure it was crispy enough. All in all, the pie took about 40 minutes to bake. I think it took me around 40 minutes to get it in the crust–what with those slippery peaches.

It turns out that the hardest part of all was waiting for the pie to cool. In the past, I’ve just cut into the thing–not known for my patience (just ask anyone). But today, I waited one hour and twenty minutes. I knew that if there was any chance of the pie staying together, it would have to cool a bit. And it kinda did! It stayed warm, too, which is important to me, because I had mine with vanilla ice cream, which was perfect. Here’s the whole pie and a slice. The slice isn’t perfect, but I felt good about it at least resembling a triangle. And once I tasted it, I cared very little about its shape.
So there we go. One delicious Georgia peach pie dedicated to my sweet Georgia family. One down, 39 to go.

Alligator Pie

All right then, pie fans. It’s 40 Pies Eve. 41 days ’till turning forty. Tomorrow morning–pie number one. I already know which kind I’ll bake, but I’m not telling today. If you smell fire tomorrow morning, pretend you’ve never read this…

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a pie thing I would really like to have.

During my pie research (you should try it–there is a TON out there), I came across lots of these awesome pie birds. Their purpose is to vent the steam from a pie, and I just think they’re really cool. Many of them are a standard black–I’m guessing from the whole blackbird business, but several I’ve seen are real works of art. I think they’d make a fine collection for an (almost) old lady.

Some pie birds aren’t even shaped like birds! I find these pretty funny…

This alligator one inspired me (by the way, NO ALLIGATORS in my pie) to find the following verse:

Alligator Pie

by Dennis Lee

Alligator pie, alligator pie,

If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die.

Give away the green grass, give away the sky,

But don’t give away my alligator pie!

Pie in a jar!

I was so excited today to receive this link from my good friend, Becky. She’s really more of a cake lady, but I’m hoping she’ll suffer through a few bites of pie for my sake. Here it is:

Pie…in a jar!

It’s just about the cutest pie thing ever. Big kudos to the person who thought it up. I can’t wait to test it out. Also, I’ve been thinking about pies that were easy to ship, and these little cutie pies might just do the trick.

My mom is the master of all canned things–delicious relishes, green beans, jellies, and sauces, so I’m familiar with canned food, but this is one I’ve never seen. Should be fun to try.

Since I know my pie project will likely involve a lot of trial and error, I’d like to end this short entry with this likely-to-happen rhyme:

 

When your pie crust won’t roll out

And your dreams and hopes start to tumble

Throw those shreds right in the trash

And make yourself a crumble.

Such good advice. Isn’t life just like that? Even when things don’t turn out like we expected, there’s almost always a way to make the best of it.

Turning forty in forty-two days. Pie in only two.

NOT in my pie!

Upon studying the origins of pie, I came upon this interesting, humorous, and slightly troubling tale:

1626 – Jeffrey Hudson (1619-1682), famous 17th century dwarf, was served up in a cold pie as a child. England’s King Charles I (1600-1649) and 15-year old Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669) passed through Rutland and were being entertained at a banquet being given in their honor by the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham. At the dinner, an enormous crust-covered pie was brought before the royal couple. Before the Queen could cut into the pie, the crust began to rise and from the pie emerged a tiny man, perfectly proportioned boy, but only 18 inches tall named Jeffrey Hudson. Hudson, seven years old the smallest human being that anyone had ever seen, was dressed in a suit of miniature armor climbed out of a gilded pastry pie stood shyly on the table in front of the Queen and bowed low. Hudson was later dubbed Lord Minimus.

Really, people? Served him up in a pie? Dang. Not so sure that was worth the “Lord Minimus” title.

Added to the list of questionable pie ingredients, in my opinion, is rhubarb. I don’t like the look of it, and I’m not really sold on anything that you have to add TONS of sugar or other fruit to in order to make it tasty. Another troubling fact…rhubarb has been used for years as a very strong LAXATIVE. Um, yeah. Not in my pie, thanks.

One other pie that I just think I’ll skip, although I’m sure most of you have heard of it, is mincemeat pie. Below is a 19th century recipe for this pie:

  • 2 lbs raisins
  • 3 lbs currants
  • 1½ lbs lean beef
  • 3 lbs beef suet
  • 2 lbs moist sugar
  • 2 oz citron
  • 2 oz candied lemon peel
  • 2 oz candied orange peel
  • 1 small nutmeg
  • pottle of apples
  • the rind of two lemons, the juice of one
  • 1/2 pint brandy

Stone and cut the raisins once or twice across, but do not chop them; wash, dry and pick the currants free from stalks and grit, and mince the beef and suet, taking care the latter is chopped very fine; slice the citron and candied peel, grate the nutmeg, and pare, core and mince the apples; mince the lemon peel, strain the juice and when all the ingredients are thus prepared, mix them well together, adding the brandy when the other things are well blended; press the whole into a jar, carefully exclude the air, and the mincemeat will be ready for use in a fortnight.

There a more than a few things about this pie that mark it off of my list:

  1. I don’t want to wait a fortnight for anything. Especially anything crammed into a jar. I want my pie now.
  2. I don’t know what beef suet is, but it reminds me of either the chimney or pigs, so I don’t want whipped cream on it.
  3. Even 1/2 pint of brandy can’t make TWO POUNDS of raisins taste good to me.
So there. In summary: No dwarves. No rhubarb. No mincemeat. If you were looking for any of those, look elsewhere. Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.
Countdown app says 43 days ’till “Turning Forty.” So three days till we open the treasure trove of tasty pie delights. Pie-tastic.