August

30
August
2013

Easy Does It Pie for Labor Day!

Angel Pie

Easy Does It Pie for Labor Day!

It’s Labor Day weekend and time to chill a little.  It’s time to spend time with family and friends, maybe enjoy some really good food.

Easy as pie, as they say, and this one surely is as easy as they come.  Try Angel Pie and see if you don’t agree that this is one of the better treats you can make for a warm weekend of kicking back.  It’s light, fluffy, lemony and fruity all at the same time.

An added bonus:  it’s gluten-free!

While relaxing this weekend, I’m going to appreciate especially those who have been or still are part of labor unions.  They help make for a middle class in America.  Here’s to everyone who works hard and contributes to their families and community! 

18
August
2013

The Scent of Unconditional Love

Cinnamon Rolls After School

The Scent of Unconditional Love

School has started here in the Southwest.  Busses are plodding along full of children, parents are arranging their lives to accommodate school schedules, and teachers are facing a new year with this crop of kids and youth.

When I was young, still in elementary school, 11 perhaps, my maternal grandmother, Alice, came to live with us.  She had been widowed the year before, after 42 years as a farm wife in the countryside of North Dakota.  A woman of modesty and humor, she was married to the northern prairie and survived those years of plucking chickens, hot winds, feeding farm hands, growing most of the family’s food, and blizzards with grit and fortitude, as farming and ranching folks often do. 

After the farm sold at auction, she began a new chapter of her life.  Finally she was free to be her lively, travel-loving, urban self.  As a young woman she had traveled from North Dakota to exotic places like Lake Louise in British Columbia, and then worked far from home in Seattle.  She thrived in the energy of the city and only left when she was called home because of a dear cousin’s death. 

Marrying Adolph, the farmer who promised they’d move to town one day, she acclimated to life on the farm but never really liked it.  Like many women, she made the best of things and raised her children with love and attention -- and one eye on the horizon!

When she came to live with our family near Los Angeles, we just scooted over and made room, making her welcome.  She, in turn, looked for how to love us back.  And gosh, did she find ways!  One of them was baking.  You know where this is going.

Grandma Alice timed the cinnamon buns, the homemade dinner rolls and the cookies to be coming out of the oven as we were arriving home from school.  And then there was the bread, still warm, sliced and blanketed with butter.  We could smell the aroma from outside the house, dropping book bags at the door and running to the kitchen. 

Now, years later, I realize why I’m always drawn to bakeries and baked goods.  It’s not the sweets that draw me in, really.  It’s the unconditional love wafting on the aroma.  I don’t even have to buy anything.  The scent alone is enough to make me smile and say, “Thanks, Grandma!  I love you, too.”

So, friends, what aroma or scent reminds you of unconditional love?  Last night friends shared their versions:  the smell of rain, the smell of warm biscuits baked by a grandmother, a mother’s favorite blue soap.  And you? 

07
August
2013

Looking for Love at the Diner

How good is their pie?

Looking for Love at the Diner

It’s kind of like looking for love in all the wrong places.

I was on a road trip with three friends recently and, just in time for lunch, we saw this sign on a roadside diner.  The whole roadside diner idea was appealing:  comfort food, big booths with padded vinyl seating, and a waitress with her name on the back of her belt refilling coffee cups.  Perfect!

The sign promised pie, so we checked out the refrigerated pie case immediately, before even being seated.  Featured there was a selection of fruit and cream options, including cherry, apple, lemon meringue and coconut cream.  The hostess reassured us that, yes, everything was made right there at the diner, just like homemade.  Oh, yum!  This was going to be fun!

The booths were full of local folks, so we settled down at a wooden table for four in the annex.  Sure enough, Betty brought lots of coffee and we ordered everything from country fried steak to enchiladas to a Chinese chicken salad.  Everything was pretty good, given that we were many miles from the nearest sources of fresh ingredients. 

Then the moment we’d been looking forward to:  sharing a piece of pie.  There was lots of talk and we finally agreed on the coconut cream, as it did look the most beautiful and all of us were in the mood for few bites of something sweet and blissful.  And if the pie was shared four ways, no great harm would come to anyone’s diet!

CococreamedShockingly awful.  I mention this not to disparage the café but just to be real with you about what commercially made pie is like these days.  Can you imagine pie so bad that four of us couldn’t finish one piece?  It’s true:  the crust was dense and tough, the filling was starchy to the point of gakky, and the topping seemed to be a cross between whipped cream and plastic.  Really!  We left most of it on the plate.

Do you find yourself looking for good pie and frequently being disappointed by what’s served?  Me, too.

So, my friends, I’m proposing that we once again commit to making pie and teaching others how to make pie and then enjoying it together.  Let’s keep good pie alive! 

And what do you think about making a list of places in the U.S. and Canada where it’s possible to buy a really good piece of pie, based on your experience and judgment?  I’d love to compile a list! 

Start thinking about where you go for good pie in your area and in the next newsletter (Sept.), we’ll set up a system for collecting your personal endorsements and posting them with pictures on a list here at Pie Pals so we can all find that good pie when we’re traveling.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll take more road trips, just for the sake of finding a good piece of pie! 

Yours in the search,

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