Saturday, January 12, 2013

Easy as pie

Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" wasn't a pie-maker, I've decided.  Maybe that person meant easy as eating pie.  I've been making pies for a little over a year now and I don't really think it's very easy.  Maybe the inventor of the phrase was just being sarcastic.

Even though pie-making is intimidating and difficult to me, I do enjoy it.  I think that's because I see it as a challenge, and because I feel as though I've witnessed a small bit of magic when a pie turns out well.

My first venture into pie-making came last summer as I was spending the day with my mom.  I had just moved back from Kansas and made it a point to spend at least one day a week with her until I found a job.  (As an aside, I later learned that she was praying at that time for me to remain unemployed so we could continue spending that time together.  A week after she quit praying for my unemployment I had an interview and the week after that an offer for the position I currently hold.  True story that has nothing to do with pie.)

We usually cooked on these days together and on this particular day I had a lemon meringue pie on my mind.  I was craving the tartness and wanted the satisfaction of creating it myself (or at least partially myself).

My mom was game and said she thought the cornstarch box had a recipe for lemon meringue pie.  I was sure we would need to make a trip to the store, but mom thought she might have everything we would need.  Still skeptical, I began naming ingredients.

As I said each ingredient she would pull it out.  Finally, sarcastically, I said, "do you have the zest of one lemon?!?!"

She walked over to the freezer, opened it up, and pulled out a small zip-bag of lemon zest.  "Yep.  I always save the zest when I get lemons because you never know when you'll need it."

Well played, mom.  She earned a new level of respect from me that day for her frugal and saving ways.

The pie that day turned out deliciously.  It was not only my first pie, but my first pie crust and my first meringue.  (For full disclosure, I have never been able to make a perfect meringue without my mom's help, special touch, magic or whatever it is she contributes to the pie-making process.)

That experience gave me more confidence to begin making more pies, and I encourage everyone to take the time to try making a pie from scratch.  No promises on the easy-as part.

The recipes I've used are readily available on the internet or other public sources.  As I mentioned earlier, the lemon meringue was taken from a cornstarch box (Ginger Evans brand, I think).  Whether the recipe calls for it or not, I usually use a homemade pie crust.  Mine is taken from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but is fairly basic.

Here is the coconut cream pie recipe I use.  This is also my go-to recipe for whipped cream. 

The pumpkin pie recipe I use comes from Paula Deen.  I love spices, so I punch up the richness of the added cream cheese with extra cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger, all spice, nutmeg, etc. 

I've been looking forward to apple pies or other fruit pies, but just haven't taken the time to try any of those yet.

Feel free to share your pie recipes, experiences and thoughts.

Happy pie-making AND pie-eating!!!

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