Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Queen of the pie

Ever since I mentioned this weekend that some of the apples might become a pie, Coffeeboy's been asking me when the apples might spontaneously jump into a tasty pastry shell.

They made that transformation this afternoon, with a little bit of help from yours truly on the crust* and filling, and a lot of help from Coffeeboy on peeling and slicing up the apples. Yes, there's a picture down there, but first I have to tell you about when I was crowned Queen of the Pie.

Several years ago, when I still lived in Boston, some friends invited me to a "pie party." Everyone was supposed to bring a pie; I brought pecan. Several partygoers selected themselves to be judges, and they tasked savory pies, sweet pies, super easy pies made of whipped cream and a store-bought crust, pun pies (there has to be at least one pie in the shape of the number "pi," doesn't there!) Entertainment was provided by a little bluegrass band from school, who called themselves the Jeremiads.

After the judging and feasting, the organizers announced the winners. They came up with some amusing "prizes:" the "pie that looks and tastes the most like toothpaste" for a grasshopper pie, the "pie with the least stability," the "pie most likely to cause death by chocolate," the "best pun pi"... and then they announced Best Overall Pie.

I won! I was the Pie Queen! My homemade pecan pie was the winning pie of the evening!

Now, I'm usually a pretty quiet person. The requirements of winning were to wear a crown made of tinfoil and to act queenly. The entire gathering sang a song (with the help of the Jeremiads): "She's the pie queen, the queen of the pie! She's the pie queen, the queen of the pie!"

As they sang this (rather badly and languorously... come on, where were my trumpets!) I walked around the room, waving my hand a la Princess Di, shaking people's hands and thanking them for their support and generally trying to ham it up as much as possible. Because really, how often does one have an entire party singing to you when it's not your birthday? How often can a shy person feel completely authorized to act as strangely as possible in front of a crowd? Not that often, at least for me... and it was a ton of fun.

The next year the same friends had another pie party... and I won again! This time with a butternut squash tart.

So you see, every time I make a pie, I have a reputation to maintain.

Easy as apple pie
Slab of sharp cheddar cheese with that? Vanilla ice cream?

The pie needs to cool and then we'll see if I'm crowned again. Since the judge is none other than (the rather biased) Coffeeboy, I have little doubt this will be hailed as another triumph!

*Update: a word on pie crust, in answer to Danielle'squery:
I follow the Joy of Cooking recipe for Flaky Pastry I, as of the edition that was out in 2000. Basically, I've found that if I take them seriously with the instructions, it comes out much better! This means: cut the shortening (of whatever variety) to pretty small pieces; I usually go smaller than pea-size. Do use cold water. Do cut the water in to the shortening/flour mix using a spatula. Do let the dough cool in the fridge before rolling. I used to not do things quite like this but usually... though not always... when I do, there's less patching. And finally, most importantly, even if I need to use ice water to patch it up like the California ground after an earthquake, it always tastes good no matter what, because there's nothing like a homemade crust and the tongue has no knowledge of patches!


Zarzuela said...

Oh lord I should not have read that before leaving work. You're bringing some to the meeting tonight, right? ;)


Sheepish Annie said...

Oh, man! Now I REALLY want pie!!! That looks so good...I can almost smell it from here.

Danielle said...

Oh wow-- TWICE Queen of the Pies. Would you possibly share your crust technique? I make a decent crust, but it's always held together by ice water and a prayer.

(Did I already comment about pie crust at some point?)

Anyway, more reliable crust technique could really help my "spontaneous jump" baking skills.

keri said...

Haha I love the mental image of you waving queenly, circleing the room. I can't honestly say I've tasted pecan pie though.

Julia said...

Dang, I want a pie party! I hope you saved the crown for when you are named Queen of ABD! I always thought a tiara should go along with passing comps :-)

Anonymous said...

For those curious - Lazuli's reign continues unabated. Long live the Pie Queen! (But not the pie, which won't live much longer at all... :)


Lone Knitter said...

Hey there. That pie looks delicious! You're knitting; you're baking. You're doing everything! Now I need to get motivated... :)

Beth S. said...

Oh YUM! :-)

I usually make apple crisp, myself. Less time to prepare, and it doesn't have to be pretty. But nothing beats a homemade apple pie, I agree!

Danielle said...

(p.s. I have updated my blog to make the email link both snarky and obvious, as opposed to just plain snarky.)

Hmmm... I have a copy of Joy of Cooking, but I'm pretty sure it's an earlier version. Maybe they didn't mess with perfection. I use the food processor to pulse in the fat... always butter, which I suspect makes things harder.

The big problem point for me is getting the butter, flour, and ice water to turn into a ball. It always ends up a powdery, floury mess that doesn't entirely stick together. Refrigerating and then rolling out between two sheets of plastic wrap has always turned crumbs into crust so far, but it feels like skating on the brink of disaster. I keep thinking that there's a method that makes a doughier ball.

And Beth S.-- I agree! Also, sometimes I want the audience adoration that comes with making the pie instead of the crisp. (Where's the blushing emoticon?)

Greta_Jane said...

Looks tres yummy. Do you know, despite living near you when you were the Pie Queen of Our Fair City, I have never eaten a slice of your pie?

schrodinger said...


That pie looks fabulous and boy would I love a piece of it. Reminded of me of an old cartoon that always makes me giggle: