Articles tagged with: cherry


Pie Mode

Off the back burner!

Cherry Pie

Back in pie mode

Do you ever go through phases when you don’t do something, even though you love it and want to do it and think it would be great to do it but you just don’t do it?  It’s been that way for me most of this year around something I love to do:  making pie.  I hadn’t really made one in months.  I just wasn’t in pie mode.

Why?  Can’t say for sure except that something in me said:  not now.  Wait.  

I think it’s OK to put things on the back burner sometimes, to let priorities shift around the multiple things for which we are responsible or to which we are connected.  For me, the main thing is to stay clear about the reasons things are shifting:  to be clear about the emotional and other factors operating.

Looking back, I can see that the primary force in my life this spring was the fact that I was preparing for retirement.  I’ve been working for 45 years.  Mostly I’ve worked for either myself or for social-profit organizations (formerly called non-profits) on behalf of health and social justice issues.  I’ve never made much money and haven’t saved enough for retirement.  

So, retirement feels like a huge stretch, one I’m not entirely ready for but one that I’m embracing.  It’s taken a lot of energy to finish up my most recent contract with the NM State Dept. of Health.  It’s taken energy to reconstruct my self-image, to start this next phase of life as an open book waiting to be written.

What does this mean for you?  You can expect more from me now:  more pie ideas, more tips and tricks, more fun.  And I’m going to start “teaching pie” one of these days.  Watch for that!  Maybe someone you know would love to come to the Land of Enchantment for pie camp.  Now that’s “pie mode!”


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,


Gluten-Free Pie Crust 101

 Gluten-Free Pie Crust 101

Take a look at this dough!  Oh, my gosh.  This was the gluten-free dough after chilling, before rolling.  It was a mess:  look at how it had crumbled into a bazillion pieces already.  Nothing seemed to be holding it together in any way…how was I ever going to roll it out and get it into the pie dish?

Dutifully, I worked on a cold surface, dusting the rolling pin with more gluten-free flour.  But it just cracked and split and went this way and that, with no pretense of “rolling out.”  This was one radically uncooperative crust. 

Finally, I had to get rough with it. I did something I would never do with wheat crust:  rolled back and forth, back and forth across the dough, pressing hard. It cracked and split at will, and I could almost hear it laughing at my efforts.  I rolled harder.  What in the world was going on here and what would hold this dough together?  The xanthum gum?  The eggs?

With a great deal of persuasion – rough play, really – I got it big enough and loosened it from below.  Okay, whew.  Then, going into the plate, it ripped into 9 pieces.

Onto Plan B:  there would be no lattice on this cherry pie.  The top crust would be made into small pieces intentionally and laid on top.  Meanwhile, the bottom one was pieced together, pinched and patted and molded with fingers to fit and to form something of a lip on the crust.  There would be no folding together of the two crusts, either.  Instead, I built up the lip enough to then use a fork and make a little pattern going around the edge.  That would have to do.  My perfectionist self was getting a lesson in gluten-free realism!

Cherry Pie with hearts top crustAs you can see, the top crust was pieced together by making cut-outs using a cookie cutter.  I highly recommend this solution, as it allows you to create an attractive top without the drama of trying to transfer a large, rolled piece of dough intact onto the pie.

The recipe came from a well-known flour company’s Web site and featured their own gluten-free all-purpose flour.  I’ll post the recipe and comments on the results in the next “Deep Dish” blog. 

Til then, to your health and to happy gluten-free baking,



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! 


Pie Advocate


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:

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.


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

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,

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


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.


National Pie Day! January 23

10 Best Ways to Celebrate


Patriotic Pie Contest

4th of July Pie!


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.


  • 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!


Who's Sewing those Aprons?!

Meet our Microentrepreneur

Duka Subedi

Our Pie Pals Seamstress:  Duka’s Story

(in Duka’s own words)

I am Duka Subedi.  I was born in Bhutan, the country between India and China. I was evicted from my country when I was seven years old.  I lived in a Bhutanese refugee camp in eastern Nepal from 1992 to 2008 with my parents, two brothers and a sister.

Refugee life is very hard life.  Many times we did not have enough food to eat, no good water to drink, not enough clothes, no proper medical care; problems in all sectors. It was scary place to live for women and young girls. I studied in the refugee camp and then went to college in Nepal.

In May, 2007 I married Hari Subedi. He is a nice person and has helped me in all of my steps of my life. I love him so much. We came to USA in August, 2008, through IOM (International Organization for Migration) and started living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the beginning life was very difficult and very challenging.  We faced many problems but we are working hard and try to improve our life.

In May 2009, my son, Aarpan, was born. He is very nice and is the source of thinking I have to work hard for my baby and make his better life.

I have learned to make different things like aprons, cushions, tote-bags, beading, etc. I learned at the New Mexico Women's Foundation, Sew Rights and other community work places.

Now I started making some money and helping my husband to run my family. I still have lot of problems like languages.  I want to go back to school and learn some things but I don't have another source of income. I am hopeful and hard working, thinking that one day I will reach my goal.

Thank you for supporting my efforts by buying an apron.  I hope you enjoy it.

Duka Subedi


Mother's Day, Grandmother's Aprons

Functional Art

Mother's Day, Grandmother's Aprons

I still love being in the kitchen with my Mom.  She’s the first to admit she wasn’t crazy about cooking but, having four children, she gave it her best shot.  She had favorite recipes and did them well, including the special rum ball cookies she and I made together every December for years.  Now, living alone, she cooks as she cares to and that’s enough!

My grandmother, however, was quite the farm wife cook.  She could wring a chicken’s neck and serve up chicken and dumplings in no time.  And pie.  Apple pie.

Women are always creating:  new recipes, how to teach children, new ways of doing business, and functional beauty.  Take aprons, for example. 

My mother wears aprons in the kitchen.  I know right where to go to find one when I’m there, a practical one with big pockets.  Grandma’s aprons were usually practical, too, designed to cover dresses but serving so many more purposes – gathering eggs from the hen house, wiping tears, taking hot pots off the stove. 

But some of Grandma’s aprons were very special.  They were lacy, or sheer with delicate bows, or cross-stitched works of art.  Luckily, I inherited some of those and I treasure them.

Now that it’s almost Mother’s Day, those of us lucky enough to have fond apron memories might want to get a new apron, perhaps for our Mother, another favorite person, or ourselves.  In the Pie Shop, you’ll find two options, both sweet as a pie.  One has the more practical aspects, a cover-your-front design with the Pie Pal logo and lots of big pockets.  The other features cherries, cherries, cherries and darling buttons, made by a seamstress who’s started her own microenterprise to help support her family.  Here’s to women’s creativity!  And to homemade pie, made with an apron on.


All You Care to Eat Pie!

How much is enough?

All You Care to Eat Pie!

A bougainvillea bower was dropping magenta flowers into the aqua pool and a short waterfall burst from rocks overhead.  OK, the rocks were fake, but we are terribly near Disney World, after all, in Orlando, FL.  Nevertheless, the water and colors together made me happy.

The American Pie Championship is being held here and the big pool at the convention center hotel invited me in.  It felt good to get moving, swimming in that blue pool after sampling…how many pies today?  Granted, I probably consumed less pie today than most of the 3 year olds there, but I tasted at least 12 pies.

Part of the championships is the pie festival, held nearby in a park.  I’m not much for crowds anymore, but this was worth it.  About 30,000 people descended on this park today and ate to their hearts’ delight (well, maybe to their mouths’ delight) as commercial pie companies shared their goods.  For a price of only $10 for adults and $5 for kids, people could walk up and sample every pie there.

The street was lined with pie pushers!  There were probably 10 different pie companies, all sharing individual servings of several different kinds of pie up to every comer.  Chocolate, cherry, pecan, apple, blueberry with no sugar added, lemon meringue, “Dixie” pie, Key Lime pie, peach pie, rhubarb, pumpkin, strawberry, you-name-it pie.

My favorite part was watching the baby strollers go by – full of babies and pie samples stacked up high enroute to a seat in the shade.  People enjoying pie and each other, making new friends over pie.  Even more beautiful than magenta bougainvillea in an aqua pool.

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