Double Feature: Pecan and Strawberry Pie

Well my first couple attempts at pie crust perfection, with The Joy of Cooking cookbook, been interestingly opposites. In honor of my largest support system, I decided to ask my husband what type of pie he would prefer me to make to kick off this baking endeavor. It seemed only fitting since, after all, he will be the one dutifully by my side tasting each of these creations for the next year or so. In true Matt fashion he requested a Pecan Pie since the book did not contain a Derby Pie recipe. Therefore two Wednesday ago  I put together the confection for our dinner and date night in. This was not an easy pie to start off with. Actually, I would go as far to say there couldn’t have been a more challenging pie to begin the whole project with since my wonderful mother in law makes a wonderful Pecan Pie, and that said reason is THE reason that my husband thinks so fondly of it. Although Matt wouldn’t admit to it, lets just say my attempts to master it were a bit of a taste bud let down compared to the amazing treat we look forward to every Thanksgiving dinner. You know how the Pecan Pies are meant to rise to the top… well mine sank to the bottom lol And the crust, once again, turned out a little to brittle for my liking. It also stuck to the surface of the pie plate which made it really difficult, almost near impossible, to serve with out breaking it all apart. Some how though, even as awful as it was, the whole pie still managed to disappear with in a matter of a few days. That mysterious disappearance in and of itself says volumes about how gracious my husband is. 🙂

Ice cream makes everything better, even dysfunctional Pecan Pie

Ice cream makes everything better, even dysfunctional Pecan Pie

The next pie however was quite a different experience. Since my spring break stay-cation began on Friday I decided I would make a Strawberry Pie for our weekly Saturday family dinner night out at the Pomeroy family farm. I chose this pie Mainly because I was able to find Strawberries for a dollar at the grocery store, and therefore had a whole extra carton sitting in my fridge that I did not want to go to waste. Plus, Strawberries taste like Spring, and with the weather we had been having in Kentucky a little Spring tastebud fever was just the cure for the winter blues our family was experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly love all the seasons, but after going on almost six months of cold, winter like weather, some nice warm sunshine and fresh flowers were way over due!

Maybe it was the fact that I was on spring break and had no where to be, with no plans ahead for the entire day, but my perfectionistic tendencies that tend to come out when baking subsided this particular Friday evening. Usually I spend too much time worrying over every little tear that happens to the dough when you flip it off of the cutting board and into the pie pan. I try my best to repair each little crack, as if it had never been there in the first place, instead of just focusing on the beauty that it made it into the plate at all! This time though I did something much different. This time I only focused on the major tears, and even then, instead of trying to make it into something its not, I let it be what it was. That simple difference made all the difference. In all it’s buttery, flakey, melt in your mouth gloriousness, my pie crust turned out as if my Nana had made it herself! Better yet, I was able to share my first successful pie crust around a table with some of the people that I love most in the entire world, which for me is what baking really all boils down to, sharing it with others you cherish most.

The first pie I have ever created successfully, and best part is I was able to share it some loved ones over a weekly family meal out at the farm.

The first pie I have ever created successfully, and best part is I was able to share it some loved ones over a weekly family meal out at the farm, which made it that much sweeter. 🙂

Much love & prayer,

Blair

P.S. Here is the recipe for both pies below, just incase you feel like making one, or both of them, after reading this post. Just remember, whatever you do, do not try and make the crust into something it’s not, and it will turn out as perfect as possible.

Pecan Pie:

this pie may also be made with walnuts
preheat oven to 450
prepare:
an unfilled pie shell
and bake it only partially, from 5 to 7 minutes. allow to cool, reduce oven heat to 375
cream;
1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
beat in 1 at a time:
3 eggs
stir in:
1/2 cup light corn syrup or molasses
1 to 1 1/2 cups broken pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
fill the shell, bake the pie about 40 minutes or until knife inserted in the filling comes out clean. serve warm or cold
Glazed Berry Pie:
Prepare with a generous high rim:
     A baked pie shell
Clean and hull:
    1 quart Strawberries or red or black raspberries
Reserve and blend 1 cup of the fruit. Combine and cook, stirring until thickened over low heat 10 to 15 minutes:
     3/4 cup sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup water
Add the blended fruit to give color. Put the whole berries into the baked pie shell, evenly distributed. Pour the syrup over the berries, coating them thoroughly by turning but not displacing them. Chill the pie in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. Serve garnished with whipped cream.
*Side note: I chose to cut the Strawberries into smaller halves since Matt loves the taste of Strawberries but not so much the texture. This adaptation worked out nicely since it made it a little less about the texture of the whole Strawberries and focused more on the taste of the glaze.

 

Project Pie

About a year ago I received a very sweet and sentimental gift, which are, in my opinion, the best kind, from my Nana. It was a recipe book that had been sitting on the women of our families pantry shelves for generations; The Joy of Cooking. She had sent it to me knowing that, being a newly married bride and therefore a beginning cook, I could use some good, solid, sound advice in the kitchen to guide my everyday meal planning experiences for our newly founded family. The inscription read “To Blair, my darling granddaughter, My mother shared with me, and now I pass to you. Happy Cooking! xoxo Nana”. The inscription and the fact that this was THE cookbook which guided my Nana and Menow’s, or great grandmothers, fingertips to create famous family meals for generations was what meant the most to me. It was as if I now possessed the power to make my own famous family meals that would leave my loved ones salivating for the leftovers, if there even were any, the next day!

But then I began to look at the size of the book! Gigantic! As I perused the pages I could not help but feel overwhelmed by the 4,500 recipes, as well as menu planning tips and guides, that filled the spine. How would I ever even know where to begin? So I filed the book away with the few other recipe books I had collected to be revisited at a later date.

A year came and went and one night as Matt and I were sitting on the couch having a in home movie date night the name of my Nana’s and Menow’s cookbook kept coming up in the film we were watching. The characters in this movie kept talking about how it was THE go to cook book, the original, that changed in home cooking forever. So naturally, after the movie I was curious and wanted to give my Nana’s cookbook a second glance, because not only did I think it was the key to becoming an incredible cook, like the rest of the women in my family, but so did America.

Again what I found was 4,500 daunting recipes, but began to just look at specific sections. With my chronic sweet tooth, the one that I came to first was of course the pies and pastries. I started reminiscing about my Nana’s famous Derby Pie and my Aunt B’s delicious Broccoli Cheese Quiche. The women in my family literally are renowned for their baking skills, in particular their pies. Seriously, contests have been won in the pie department based on the fact that their crusts always turn out so perfectly flaky and buttery; it just melts right in your mouth. Pie and I though, well we have a different relationship; there is history.  Right after Matt and I were first married I felt it was my genealogical gifting to be able to make an outstanding pie. I mean after all, all the women on my fathers side of the family had this magical skill so therefore I must be destined, right? Wrong! Pie crust did not, and still does not, come naturally to me. Whenever I endeavor to make a pie it does not turn out perfectly flaky and buttery, to the point that it will melt in your mouth, just like my Nana’s. Nope, mine turns out tough, crunchy, and sometimes even a bit burnt on the bottom. It would be more likely to break your teeth then melt in your mouth. Kudo’s to my loving and kind husband for always being so gentle with me in this area though. For always lifting me up and encouraging me when it would have been extremely easy to tear me down. He still wont admit that it’s as bad as it is, and whenever I attempt to make a pie Matt, to my complete bewilderment, eats it, and not just one piece to be cordial.. he will even go back for seconds. Now if that type of sacrifice is not love, then I don’t know what is.

In all seriousness though, as I was pouring over the beautiful pie section of my Nana’s cookbook, it struck me! Maybe the secret to their success is in the book! Maybe if I bake my way through the pies and pastries section of this long standing family gem that was passed down to me I will finally unleash that magical touch that has won over some many stomachs for generations, making friends and family save just a little bit of extra room at the end of a wondrous meal when they hear their is pie for desert? After all, it was in my Menow’s possession before Nana’s and now it is in mine. So I would practically have two of the best bakers I know with me in spirit to guide my adventures as I attempted to get this whole pie thing down pat. And if at the end of 62 pies, for some reason, I still can not make the perfectly flaky, buttery crust that has deemed the women in my family for so long as amazing bakers, then I will put them all to shame and begin using the store bought Pillsbury crust that you can find in the freezer isle and seems to come out perfectly every time, whether you have the ability to craft it yourself or not.

Therefore I have decided to bake my way through the entire pie section of the cookbook The Joy of Cooking in hopes that after 62 recipes I will finally have earned my place in the kitchen and stop putting my incredible husband through pie crust agony! Of course Matt was on board with this idea. He even did the honor of choosing the first pie that I should begin with, Pecan Pie,  which was quite a high mark to start out with considering his mom makes the best version of this pie I have ever tasted! As for the days you can expect to read about how this particular challenge of ours is going, come back every Sunday to hear about that weeks sweet tooth indulgent for project pie!

Much Love & Prayer,

Blair