Deep Dish Archive

 
17
March
2013

More Good Bakers...More Good Pie!

New Bakers Get Crusty

More Good Bakers...More Good Pie!

More Good Pie!

That’s a motto to live by, isn’t it?  And we had GOOD PIE on PI DAY last week!

Several of us spent a whole evening at John and Bianca’s home, with laughter and pie coaching in abundance.  John honed his pie skills while Bianca made her very first pie ever!  Yay! 

John made a blueberry peach pie, after making homemade crust for the first time.  He's already known for making pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkins, and now he can claim success with making the flaky crust, as well!

Beth, an experienced baker, made her favorite:  custard pie.  She added a piece de resistance, freshly grated nutmeg, to the top of the pie just before baking.

Havens, also an experienced baker, made a sour cherry pie and brought it to share.   We had three to sample:  the cherry, blueberry peach and custard!  Check these out in the attached photo.

Bianca and John were coached by yours truly, someone who finds great joy in sharing the how-to of pie.  They were very good sports!  They learned the chemistry of crust: the “keep it cold” rule, how to cut in the shortening in two batches using a pastry blender, and how to judge the consistency of the dough and to add just enough water (which varies from one day to the next, depending on humidity and such). They managed to roll the dough and get it into the pie plate without excessive cursing, and created a crust edge to seal in the juices and look pretty. Now they can make great pie crust any time! 

Bianca made a beautiful first-ever pie, a traditional apple pie in an all-butter crust.  It came out late at night, so we didn’t get to try it, but I’m quite sure it was fabulous. 

Special thanks to Janet for being our taster extraordinaire! 

If you, too, want to have the confidence to make perfect crust every time, you can learn everything you need to know with “Pie Crust 101,” a DVD with all of the tips and tricks and a recipe, created by me with the help of my film friends, “Film Feed.”  You can find it in the Pie Pals Pie Shop, where you'll also find aprons either made by a microentrepreneur or printed in a union shop.  Made in the USA, of course!

Happy baking to all, and here’s to more good pie bakers! 

Rebecca

Pie Advocate

10
February
2013

Pie for Lovers

Ways to say "I love you!"

Pie for Lovers

Seduction can be simple.  As easy as pie, in fact. 

If you want to impress anyone, make a homemade pie.  If you want to get the attention of someone special, give him or her a Valentine’s pie.  Seduction is nearly guaranteed.

Americans do love their pie.  A survey[1] of Americans reveals that our favorites are apple, lemon meringue, pecan and pumpkin, with cherry, strawberry rhubarb and chocolate rounding out the pie chart. 

But, for Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to tailor your pie-giving to your talents and the recipient’s tastes.  Basic guidelines:  make it yourself, make it rich, and make it with love. 

Here are the 5 steps to wowing your way through Valentine’s Day:

1.      Without giving away your plans, find out what your lover loves:  Chocolate?  Lemon?   Pecans?  Raspberries?

2.     Make the crust if you can.  Buy a frozen one if you can’t.

3.     Make the pie early in the day (or the night before) so that it has time to cool and set.

4.     Pick a recipe at your level of experience that will still meet your partner’s fancy so that you won’t stress out:  easy, average or more challenging.  Find recipes at all levels and for all flavors at:  www.piepals.com

5.     Above all, don’t worry about how it looks.  The person receiving it will be so blown away that you might want to have a camera handy to catch his/her expression upon realizing you made this pie.

Suggestions:

1.      For chocolate lovers:  "Over the Top" Chocolate Mousse Pie (challenging) or Chocolate Chess Pie (easy)

2.     For lemon lovers:  Lemon Chess Pie (easy)

3.     For nut lovers:  Pecan Pie (average)

4.     For fruit lovers:  Raspberry Rhubarb (average) or Easy as Apple Pie (um, easy)

When it comes to making pie, there are some tips and tricks that make it easier the first few times.  Check out the “Tips and Tricks” section of www.PiePals.com.

Most people say the crust is the challenging part, and I would agree.  The main thing is to act with confidence and not let that crust manipulate you into defeat.  You are in charge.  True, a gentle touch is the best, but don’t give your power away, roll the dough too much or burst into tears.  Just roll it out gently, fix any cracks, loosen it with a big spatula, and roll it onto your rolling pin and then unroll it gently over the pie plate.  Lift it to let it fall down into the plate and then trim it with a dull knife against your finger.  You’ll be fine and so will the crust.

Oh, yes, the other big thing for a good crust is to make sure the crust is well-chilled before you put the filling into it and bake it.  It’s about the chemistry of when the fat melts, so just make sure the crust is well-chilled before baking.  Ta da.  There you go, you lover, you. 

This could be your most memorable Valentine’s ever.

Your Pie Pal,
24
January
2013

Giving Pie Away

Honoring Local Heroes

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

Shy at first, staff slowly gathered around the conference table with three round pies in the middle.  “You made these?”  they wondered.

“Yes, for you!”  I answered with a grin.  Their eyes got bigger.

The gift of pie:  made with love, with ingredients from my own mother’s garden (rhubarb, lemons), with the intention of honoring people who do the good work of strengthening our communities.  Often unsung, or at least not thanked directly, they are the people who staff the shelter for domestic violence or rape crisis center, who run the senior center, who work day in and day out for social justice, who do the inglorious work behind the scenes at a hundred non-profit agencies everywhere. Michelle Fuller w pie 1.23.13

January 23 was National Pie Day.  What a great holiday, huh?  What a great day to celebrate pie, and so we did.

The dozen women and two men who work the day shift at the shelter got to have their fill of three kinds of pie:  raspberry rhubarb, deep red beckoning through a lattice crust; apple, overflowing with fruit; and chocolate chess pie, a lush custard that was still a touch warm.  At the ACLU, the staff got to choose between lemon chess pie, that perfect blend of sweet and sour; and cherry, bright and engaging in both color and taste.  At the senior center, the lucky folks there got to enjoy slices of coconut custard, delicate and rich [the Grand Dame of pie]; and Dutch apple, a crumb topping the perfect foil for the soft, tart apples tucked inside.

Here’s a link to the story on the local pie-friendly TV station, KRQE.

And, here’s a special shout-out to two Pie Pals who did this generous work with me:  Sandy Bryan and Havens Levitt.  Both are regular contestants and winners at the NM State Fair Pie Contest.  Both are community-minded and have hearts the size of, well, a big ol’ pie.  Thank you, Havens and Sandy!

Wouldn’t it be fun to line up a whole bunch of pie bakers next year, each with pies ready to deliver to their favorite local heroes?  What if we did that in communities all over the world?

We’ve started a new tradition.  I can hardly wait for next year.

Rebecca Dakota

Pie Advocate

Pie Pal #1

24
December
2012

Christmas Trees & Trust

Why We Love Them So!

Christmas Trees & Trust

There is something about a beautiful Christmas tree that evokes trust.  Regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs, there is something universal and primal about the response to such a tree.

The trust almost seems to come from the tree itself.  Trust from the past, reflecting our enduring dependency on trees for oxygen.  Trust in the present because a beautiful Christmas tree’s energy provides complete feng shui* balance and makes us feel good.  Trust in the future because their beauty reminds us to be calm, to remember our own inner light as it is reflected from the tree’s ornaments and lights.  The trees seem to remind us to seek the consciousness of love and compassion, reminding us to care for one another.

We respond with trust to something that feels so right.  The sight of a beautiful Christmas tree can transform us with a sense of connection:  to our own spirits, to each other and to the Earth.  How great is that?!

Wishing you peace and connection, and apple pie,**

Rebecca

*Christmas Tree Feng Shui:  The ancient Chinese system for seeking harmony and the gentle flow of the life force teaches us to look for the 5 elements and a balance between yin and yang in our environments.  The triangular shape of a holiday tree and the lights represent the element of fire, the tree itself represents the element wood, the scent of pine reminds us of earth, the round ornaments represent metal, and the shiny ornaments and tinsel represent water.  The dark tree is yin and the bright ornaments and lights are yang.  Perfect!

**Apple pie for the whole party – “Slab Apple Pie,” now in the Apple Pie section of PiePals.com.  It fills a whole 9x13” cake pan, so you can serve many people with one pie!  Special thanks to Pie Pal, Havens, for sharing her recipe.

03
December
2012

Tipping Point Season?

Denial, boots & pie

Tipping Point Season?

Tipping Point Season?

It feels like a tipping point:  either we choose love now, being one humanity on the same globe, or we rip it all apart in fear and greed and a willing denial.

It is December 2012, and the world is in a pretty big mess:  Global warming, wars, hunger and need, tensions among people every which way.  And at the same time, people are envisioning change, intentionally creating a more global consciousness and connectedness. 

As people approach the holiday season – solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza and other celebrations – it feels different this year.  Yes, there are tremendous social and economic pressures to buy things and to spend money (especially in our American culture), to be consumers above all else.  And yet, there is also a sense of calm and peace that seems to be emerging -- some kind of quiet, like a soft down comforter or a gentle tropical breeze enveloping the atmosphere around the globe.

People are taking time to see each other, to acknowledge that we are here together, that this is a sacred place and a special time on this planet. 

Whether we buy boots for a person living on the street, like the police officer in New York City did, or take homemade cookies to someone who lost a special person in their life this year, or adopt a family to share our blessings with, I hope all of us find a way to celebrate connection this year.  As we do, we will, indeed, bring peace on Earth.

Blessings of the season to all of us, Rebecca

P.S.  Homemade pie is one of the really good ways to bring people together!

02
November
2012

Election Day: Lemon, Cherry, or Pecan

I support a woman’s right to choose.

Election Day:  Lemon, Cherry, or Pecan

I support a woman’s right to choose, and not just her pie.  Her right to choose pretty much everything, especially if it has to do with her very own body:  that temple of the divine here on Earth.  She’s in charge of that – from what goes into it, including pie, to what comes out of it, including babies.

In America today, it’s a woman’s legal right to choose whether or not to have children.  Period.  She may involve others in her decisions but, bottom line, it’s her decision.

Do we really want to change that now?  Election Day is here.  Please consider whether you think it’s important to uphold a woman’s right to make her own healthcare, body and pie decisions. 

Personally, I pick peach.

19
September
2012

Update: State Fair Pie Contest Results!

For the Fun of It

Update: State Fair Pie Contest Results!

Ever had a goal you've worked towards for yearsI’ve had this goal a long time:  winning a ribbon in every category of pie at the NM State Fair Pie contest.

There’s a fine line between nervous and excited.  It was 3:30 in the afternoon, and my heart had been pounding for hours.  My mouth was dry, dry, dry – in spite of drinking two liters of water -- and my knee was bouncing up and down, up and down. 

It was yesterday at the NM State Fair Pie Contest.  Judging had started almost 2 hours earlier and they had worked their way to the final two categories:  “Other Pies” and “Tart.”  I was entered in both.  Friends (Linda and Kristen) kept me grounded and reminded me to breathe.

The “Other Pies” category was competitive, with entries from some of the best bakers in the state.  I had entered a new creation, “Pie Pops,” and hoped the judges would welcome something outside the box.  These were individual slices of pie on popsicle sticks!  (More on that in an upcoming Deep Dish.)  When the judges announced that they took third place, I slumped in disappointment.  I’d put so much work into those!

Finally, two  judges pondered the tarts. Again, experience bakers had entered more tarts this year than ever before.  Back and forth they went, tasting, talking between themselves, tasting again.  They especially doted on a coconut creation – glossy and glorious – and a fresh blueberry tart.  Back and forth.  They tasted mine again, the Midnight Mandarin (dark chocolate mousse laced with candied orange zest & sea salt).  Would I finally win a blue ribbon in the tart category?  The one blue ribbon that’s been elusive out of the 16 categories at the pie contest?

The blueberry tart took third, the coconut took second, and yes! -- mine took the first place prize.  One of the judges declared it “a piece of exquisiteness” and a blue ribbon was draped on top.  Finally, mission accomplished! 

Then, to put my delight over the top, the Midnight Mandarin Tart was declared “Best of Show!”  I’ve been giddy with the joy of it ever since. 

Yes, pie is nearly trivial when embassies are burning, the Earth is warming and people are hungry.  But standing in the shade, sharing pie – apple, blueberry, chocolate, butterscotch, pecan and raspberry -- with other bakers and their friends after the contest, for a few minutes life was very good.  And that’s no small thing. rebeccabestofshow2012sm

02
September
2012

Literally Dreaming About Pie

Are Your Creative Juices Peachy?

Literally Dreaming About Pie

What are you dreaming up lately?

Our creative juices:  peachy!  OK, that’s corny, and it’s true.  Sweet juices dripping from ripe peaches are part of what make a peach pie so good.  But how about your personal creative juices?  What makes them flow for you? 

We’re all gifted in something.  Each of us has things we love to do that are creative – from gardening in your own yard to organizing a community garden, or raising healthy children,  writing poetry, teaching at the community college, making a pie from scratch, playing an instrument, leading productive meetings, being an athlete, or making a video.  Our gifts are whatever absorbs us, takes our complete attention for a while, makes us feel alive and successful – regardless of what anyone else says about what we’re doing.

What situations encourage you to be creative?  What environment do you want or need to support being creative?  Please share your ideas and thoughts with the rest of us!  I’ll post what people are saying if you’ll send your version of what supports your creative juices to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Sept. 15th.

There can be a tension around being creative, especially when we’re doing something new or when we put expectations on ourselves about the outcome. 

The truth:  I’m nervous about the pie contest, which is coming up Sept. 18th here in NM.  It’s that time when I literally dream about pie.  The other night it was an upside-down candied orange pie.

Pie comes up when I meditate.  It comes up when I’m walking in the neighborhood. In conversation.  In a hardware store.  Yikes!  There’s no escaping the tension and attention of pie right now in my life.

And there is a fun part to all of this:  the creativity.  Ideas come popping in and they play well with one another, running this way and that, jumping and whistling to get attention, like kids with the answer, waving their hands to be called upon in class.

So, tell me what it is that grabs your attention, that wants to be created, and what supports that.  I think the world needs lots of creativity now, wrapped in fun and good humor, to see us through challenging times.  We need things that unite us, like art, gardens, music, words written and spoken, and pie.  Always pie!

Rebecca Jo Dakota

©2012

15
June
2012

Patriotic Pie Contest

4th of July Pie!

07
September
2012

Pie Festival Sept. 8, Pie Town, NM!

Does it get any better than a pie festival?!

19
June
2012

"Costa Rican Orange Blossom Pie" is Winner!

"Merry Month of May" contest winner

Congratulations to Lenore from Costa Rica.  Her entry in the “Merry Month of May” pie recipe contest is a winner.  You can find the easy recipe here.

Sour oranges pair up with cream for a taste that’s reminiscent of the “Dreamsicles” of old.  Set in a buttery crust, it’s really hard to resist.

I’m going to try it as a tart next time.  The crust seems more tart-like (tart-esque?) to me.  I’ll take pictures and post them and let you know how the pie vs. tart versions compare.  Meantime, enjoy!

17
June
2012

Patriotic Pie?

What's Your 4th of July Pie?

Red, White & Blue Pie

Patriotic Pie Contest

4th of July Pie

Our national birthday is coming up, so let’s get ready to celebrate!  What’s your version of a 4th of July Pie? 

What characteristics of America would you want to celebrate?  Our commitment to democracy?  Our 3 branches of government?  Our willingness – in the end – to embrace diversity and inclusiveness?  Our vision of freedom and liberty for all?  A particular part of America that’s special to you?  I can see a “Yellowstone Park Pie” or a “Purple Waves of Grain Pie.”  Or maybe a “Southern Summer Pie.”

Pick a theme and go for it!  Send your recipe in by June 30th and we’ll pick one to post on the 1st of July (so there will be time to make it for the 4th).

Maybe you already have a favorite 4th of July Pie – great!  Or maybe you want to make up a new one.  Either is welcome.

Criteria:

  • ü  Name your pie according to the American value or place you want to celebrate
  • Originality counts!
  • Get it here by end of day June 30th

For inspiration, here’s a photo from the American Pie Championship held this April.  It has 3 sections with different fruits in red, white and blue colors -- cherries, apples and blueberries – with a twist of crust separating each.  How did the baker keep the sections separate?  I don’t know but I was impressed with the design!

I think I’ll dream up a “Liberty Pie” or maybe an “Equal Rights” pie.  How about you?!?  Enter now!

06
April
2012

Contest! - "Merry Month of May"

Winner's recipe will be featured on PiePals.com

What: your best pie or tart recipe to celebrate the "Merry Month of May"

When: enter by May 31, 2012 (submission must be dated by then)

Why: winner's recipe will be featured on PiePals.com

What: most fresh fruit isn't ripe yet, so what will you feature in this late spring pie? Your creativity and matching of the "merry month" theme will be rewarded! Remember the PiePals theme: "dishing up delicious!"

To enter, join PiePals (it's free and easy!), then enter your pie here. Be sure to put "Merry Month of May" in the "Contest Name" field so we'll know you're entering.

Photos are encouraged but not required.

Remember to feature fruit or ingredients readily available at this time of year and to give complete instructions, including a crust recipe.

We will select 3 recipes to make, and will carefully follow your directions. We'll take pictures of the finished pies. And then we'll have a tasting! All three recipes will be shared on PiePals, and the winner will be featured on our home page before Memorial Day.

Good luck!

Your Pie Pal, Rebecca

10
January
2012

Contest! - "Washington's Cherry Pie"

Winner's recipe will be featured on PiePals.com

Contest! -

It's a Contest!

"Washington's Cherry Pie"

What: your best cherry pie recipe using frozen cherries.

When: enter by February 12, 2012 (submission must be dated by then)

Why: winner's recipe will be featured on PiePals.com

What: we're looking for a luscious, not-too-sweet pie that can be either homey or innovative, in a crust that complements the filling. Remember the PiePals theme: "Dishing up Delicious!"

05
October
2014

Juicy News from the Pie Contest, NM State Fair (Copy)

Best of Show Pie, Fresh Raspberry & Chocolate, 2014

People – Pie Pals, specifically – have been asking, “What happened?!” 

Let’s get to the juicy details!

New challenges emerged this year.  There were 17 categories, up from the previous 16.  The Home Arts Division decided that they would eliminate “Dutch Apple” (it was rolled into the “Nontraditional Apple” category) and they added “No Sugar” and “Citrus.”  Hmmmph!  Here I thought I’d won all of the categories (which I had until they changed things) and could just bake for fun.

I worked and worked on creating a great sugar-free pie.  I’m not willing to use those weird artificial sweeteners that often have a bitter after taste, so I focused on more natural ways to make things sweet. First it was the “Nutty Buddy” Pie, based on frozen bananas whirled with unsweetened chocolate, frozen, and topped with chopped peanuts.  Analysis:  terrible texture (icy, frozen shards).  Then it was on to the “Sweet Potato Sweetie Pie,” which used apple juice boiled down to a thick syrup as the sweetener.  I was looking for a soft, custard-like texture and, instead, got what would gag a dog (if I had one).  As one of my favorite pie testers, Jon, said with such understatement, “This doesn’t measure up.”

Ha!  The final entry was an apple pie, double crust, sweetened with raisins and condensed apple cider.  It was quite lovely, thick with apples and raisins, and I really liked the flavor – probably because I’ve cut down on sugar so much in the last few years.  The judge, however, said she was a little confused by the flavor – maybe too much cinnamon?  And she didn’t get that the raisins had been soaked in rum.  So…it didn’t win a ribbon.  But you know what?  I enjoyed it for the next several days!

Meanwhile, they were judging the peach pie category which had an unusually large number of entries this year.  Guess who won?  A Pie Pal, Havens!  Here’s a picture of her gorgeous lattice-top peach pie, and here’s the recipe she used.

Then they judged the nontraditional apple pies.  And guess who won again?  Pie Pal Havens!  I’ll ask her to post the recipe she used along with a picture.

Finally, they got around to judging the “Fruit Pie” category.  It catches everything that doesn’t fit in one of the other fruit groupings.  That’s where I entered my raspberry chocolate creation.  And I say creation because this is a recipe I made up 25 years ago.  That was the first blue ribbon pie I ever made! 

It’s a labor of love, for sure.  The crisp crust holds a thin layer of chocolate buttercream (like dark chocolate butter frosting), then there is a double layer of fresh raspberries covered by a lush, scarlet-red raspberry glaze.  Small chocolate cream swirls around the inside edge of the crust made it all come together. 

So the two judges tasted a sliver of the raspberry pie and also someone’s pineapple pie and all of the others in this category.  As usual, I watched to see if their expressions gave away their impressions.  They did not.  I tried to remember to breathe.  They lifted each of the slices to check the bottom and see if the crust was properly browned.  They pinched off bits of crust to check for flavor and flakiness.  They tasted the fillings each one more time. 

Finally it was time to announce the winners in this category.  One judge took the microphone and started, “Third place goes to…” while the other judge lifted my pie.  My heart sank.  “No, not that one!” the announcer corrected.  Whew.  They discussed and displayed the third place and second place winners.  And then judge #2 held up my pie while judge #1 pronounced it to be “perfection.”  Yay!  A blue ribbon in the “Fruit Pie” category!  I could breathe again.

Near the end of the pie contest, all of the blue ribbon pies (one from each of the 17 categories) compete against each other for “Best of Show.”  All 6 of the judges circle up and compare notes on their favorites among those 17 pies.  They go back and forth, a little more tasting, a lot of kibitzing, and finally one of them takes the mic again.  Guess what?  They agreed on the raspberry pie!! 

So, there you go.  Well, actually, there we went.  We, friends and I, took the remainder of that pie outside and ate it up.  We sat at a shady picnic table on a sunny September afternoon, forks, little plates and bottles of cold water at the ready.  We also ate up most of the peach pie and the Dutch apple and some of the sugar-free apple.  Does life get any better than moments like this? 

Special thanks to Havens, Jon, Patty and Carla for making the day even sweeter than the pie.

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