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1. you have to see this!


        

Today I'm baking a this-movie-is-so-good-you-have-to-see-it pie.

Honestly, my love for "Waitress" is so big, it can't fit into just one pie of a post.

Remember that diner scene in "Michael," where John Travolta and Andie MacDowell are eating their way through an entire table of pies? I thought that was the best pie scene in cinema, until I saw this sweet, unpretentious, quirky, funny and poignant slice-of-pie set in a small Southern town. It really hit the spot, as good indies tend to do. There's no big flash or flair, but oh, how the characters shine. 

The story centers around Jenna (played by Keri Russell), a pregnant genius pie maker/waitress stuck in an unhappy marriage. She works at Joe's Pie Diner with grumpy manager Cal, shy and insecure Dawn, and been-around-the-block a few times Becky. Jenna's husband, Earl, is controlling, abusive, obnoxious, and basically insecure to the nth degree. No wonder Jenna finds refuge in making pies. 

She totally resents her pregnancy, because it's one more obstacle in her quest to get away from Earl. But she is strangely attracted to her obstetrician, Dr. Pomatter, an odd duck who falls in rapture after sampling her Peachy Keen Tarts. Their affair is comical yet tender. Jenna becomes addicted to "saying things and having them matter to someone," just as finding out how she reconciles her anti-maternal feelings, deals with Earl and Dr. Pomatter, and finally revs up her mettle, ultimately matters to us.

Adrienne Shelly, who plays Dawn, also wrote and directed "Waitress." Pregnant at the time, fearful of how her life would drastically change, she began writing a letter to her unborn baby, which sparked an idea for a screenplay. The film is even more poignant since Shelly was senselessly murdered just before it was released. Her daughter, Sophie, appears in the final scene. "Waitress" has drawn wide acclaim, earning five awards and three nominations. It was selected for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2008 Chlotrudis Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast.

And did I mention the pies? They go way beyond mere sensual decoration, though you'll love gazing at all the dark chocolate, berries, custards, creams and marshmallows. The pies are a narration of Jenna's inner thoughts -- fascinating manifestations of love, frustration, anger, sadness, and friendship. By the story's end, you will be craving some of Jenna's Lonely Chicago Pie, Naughty Pumpkin Pie, or her special Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie. On a bad day, you will wish for a big bite of her Baby Screaming in the Middle of the Night and Ruining My Life Pie.

Superbly written, well acted and directed, "Waitress" examines the choices people make, the consequences, and the inestimable value of friendship.

So, what are you waiting for? Get thee to Netflix now!

*These Amazon movie trailers will whet your appetite.

                         
                                                                                                               
                 "Baby don't cry, baby don't cry, gonna make a pie
                                 with a heart in the middle . . ."
   

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2. saturday morning cartoon: country pie


Boop meets Dylan, one day only! Cover by Robert James Fuller.



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3. blueberry bonanza


 
        
                                BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL by Robert McCloskey
                                (Viking, 1948), ages 4-8, 64 pp.

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!

That's the lovely sound of blueberries hitting the bottom of Little Sal's tin pail. 

The other day, I opened this delicious classic for the first time in eons. I had forgotten about how wonderful Robert McCloskey's illustrations were, all done in dark blue ink. The double page spread displayed on the endpapers is stunning, showing Little Sal standing on a chair playing with rubber canning seals, her mom pouring cooked blueberries into jars, the Hoosier cabinet with a drawer and door open, and of course, the cast iron stove. You can just feel that fresh breeze drifting in through the open windows.

And what a sweet, gentle story -- Sal and her mother go blueberry picking, but Sal never fills her pail because she keeps eating the berries as they go along. On the other side of the hill, a mother bear and cub are fattening up for the winter on blueberries. Sal and Little Bear fall behind and eventually trail after the wrong mothers.

       

Blueberries are a staple in our house all year round. They are one of the reasons I'd like to live in Maine. The best blueberry pie I've ever eaten, hands down, came from the Red Fox Tavern in Middleburg, Virginia. It was made from a bounty of small, incredibly sweet wild Maine blueberries. It's been over 10 years, and I'm still thinking about that piece of pie.

So, for all you fellow blueberry lovers, here are three wonderful recipes - classic blueberry pie (compliments of Violet Beauregarde of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), blueberry cream cheese pie, and a simple blueberry cobbler. I'll take my blueberries any way I can, and I love showing off my blue tongue!

NOT VIOLET, BUT BLUEBERRY PIE



Pastry for one 2-crust 9-inch pie
4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt

Place berries in a bowl. Drizzle them with lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to distribute. Pour the berries into a 9-inch pie pan layered with a bottom crust rolled 3/8 inch thick. Position top crust, crimp edges together, and trim. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 50 minutes. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

~ from The Book Lover's Cookbook (Ballantine Books, 2003)

                                

BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE PIE



1 prebaked 9-inch pie crust
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 8-oz container whipping cream
1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix cream cheese until soft, add sugar and vanilla. Stir well.
Fold mixture into stiffly whipped cream.
Pour into baked pie shell, top with pie filling and chill.

                               

Here is the easiest one of all; takes only about 10 minutes to prepare for baking.

BLUEBERRY COBBLER

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, if desired
2/3 cup skim milk
2 T butter or margarine, melted
2 cups blueberries, cleaned and washed

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, and mix the batter until it is smooth.

2. Pour the melted butter into a 1 or 1-1/2 quart casserole-type baking dish. Pour in the batter, and sprinkle the blueberries on top.

3. Bake the cobbler in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is lightly browned. Spoon out the cobbler onto individual dishes to serve.

~
from Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook (Bantam, 1985)

                                        

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4. test your pie geography!


           

This month I've been reading American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads by Pascale Le Draoulec (HarperCollins, 2002).

Pascale is a journalist and food critic for the New York Daily News. She decided to follow the holy grail of pie, driving along back roads from San Francisco to New York, sniffing out recipes, pie makers, and pie lore. Pie is the quintessential American dessert, and every state has its signature pie. I loved meeting the characters Pascale met on her odyssey, for pie is an emotional topic laden with memories. She discovered that no matter where she went, people liked to talk pie.

               

How well do you know America's pie map? Match up these states with the pies they are famous for:

 STATES

Maine
Georgia
Delaware
Ohio
Mississippi
Florida
Washington
Rhode Island
New York
Oklahoma
Michigan
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Oregon
California

 PIES (some are specialties of more than one state)

Peach
Pecan
Strawberry
Rhubarb
Apple
Cherry
Blueberry
Shoofly
Meat Pasty
Funeral Pie
Key Lime
Blackberry
Empanada
Sweet Potato
Pumpkin


1. Maine: blueberry
2. Georgia: peach
3. Delaware: pumpkin
4. Ohio: funeral pie
5. Mississippi: sweet potato
6. Florida: key lime
7. Washington: apple
8. Rhode Island: rhubarb
9. New York: apple
10. Oklahoma: pecan
11. Michigan: cherry
12. Pennsylvania: shoofly
13. Wisconsin: meat pasty
14. Oregon: blackberry
15. California: empanada, strawberry

SCORES:  

All 15 correct -- Pie Expert (reward yourself with an extra piece)!
10-14 -- Pie Lover (keep eatin')
5-9 -- Humble Pie (better get out more)
Less than 5 -- Pie thrower (better duck)

   

What is your state's signature pie? Any others that I haven't mentioned here?
 

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5. a baker's dozen of upper crust picture books


 
       

Today we're dishing up some picture book pies just in case you've got any hungry ankle-biters or restless munchkins hanging around.

There's certainly no shortage of lovingly baked pie books cooling on library shelves, and I sampled as many as I could. When it's too hot to play outside, invite the little ones to stick their fingers into these cool offerings. They'll be left pie-eyed with wonder.

 APPLE PIES

1. The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, pictures by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster, 2007). A cumulative tale featuring a loving father and daughter, showing how the wonders of nature play a role in creating the end product. With three-color folk art illustrations remniscent of Wanda Gag and Lois Lenski. See these brilliant reviews by Fuse 8 and Jules of 7-Imp for more details.

      

2. The President and Mom's Apple Pie by Michael Garland (Dutton, 2002). President William Howard Taft, a man of substantial girth, visits small town America in 1909. After stepping off the train, he smells something positively delicious in the air. His nose leads him to some mighty fine grub before discovering Mom's culinary masterpiece cooling on the window sill. Exuberant illustrations carry the reader through the fun and excitement of the day.

     
 

 
3. Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong, pictures by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002). A young Chinese girl whose parents own a neighborhood grocery store is disheartened, thinking no one eats Chinese food on the 4th of July. She hears the parade outside and longs to celebrate the American way, complete with apple pie, like the one she smells baking upstairs. Before the day ends, she discovers that Chinese food is American too.

4. How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Knopf, 1994). A young girl embarks on a joyous shopping expedition via various whimsical means to gather the ingredients for an apple pie in this well-loved classic. The finished pie (recipe included) is ultimately shared with children from around the world. (Note: How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. is coming in October!)

Cover Image    

5. A Apple Pie by Gennady Spirin (Philomel, 2005). The traditional 17th century English alphabet rhyme is brought to life in Spirin's whimsical Victorian style watercolor paintings. Each letter takes center stage in scenes depicting the fate of the apple pie: "B Bit it," "F Fought for it," "S Sang for it," etc. Luscious, grand and magical all at the same time. Love that giant pie!

   

 OTHER PIES

1.How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson, pictures by Raul Colon (Margaret McElderry Books, 2007). A recipe spells out "how to bake an American pie, first ever made on the fourth of July," using all the ingredients which make up our country, spiced with "ideas seasoned with dreams and customs from faraway lands." The cooking metaphor works to wondrous effect, and the ink and watercolor paintings are fanciful and evocative. Contains purple mountain majesties in floating teacups, a dog and cat chef, and a giant rolling pin smoothing out the fruited plains. 

How to Bake an American PieRabbit Pie (Picture Puffin)

2. Rabbit Pie by Penny Ives (Viking, 2006). A very sweet bedtime book in recipe format featuring six cuddly rabbits and their patient, loving mother going through the rituals of bathing, changing, and tucking in for the night. The warm and cozy home is depicted in pastel watercolors. Yummy plates of carrots might prove too tempting for young readers possessing efficient teeth.

3.
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, pictures by Tara Calahan King (Chronicle, 2000). It looks like a perfect summer for a little boy until Jeremy Ross moves in across the street. After Jeremy Ross becomes Enemy #1, the boy's father makes an enemy pie -- guaranteed to get rid of enemies. For the pie to work, the boy must spend an entire day with Jeremy Ross. A satisfying story showing how friends are made. A Reading Rainbow book.

           

4. Humble Pie by Jennifer Donnelly (who favors coconut cream pie), pictures by Stephen Gammell (Atheneum, 2002). A morality tale set in a Medieval village about nasty, greedy, mouthy, spoiled Theo, whose grandmother wraps him up inside a giant pie. As he rolls through the village, no one wants to help him. Does he escape the red hot oven or get his just desserts?

       
Cover Image    Cover Image

5. All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin (who loves to bake apple, blueberry and peach pie), pictures by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick, 2006). A charming, simple tale told as a repetitive narrative about Grandma Cat baking a scrumptious apple pie for her family, which is ultimately shared by the mouse family and ant family. A reassuring story that could be used as a math lesson, with ink and watercolor paintings in warm, earthy tones.

6. Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen D. Lindsey, pictures by Charlotte Riley-Webb (Lee & Low, 2003). One summer, a drought destroys all the crops save the sweet potatoes. Sadie's family must work together baking lots of pies to sell at the Harvest Celebration in order to earn enough money to save their farm. Vibrant, energetic acrylic paintings perfectly complement the story. Recipe included. 


             

7. A Pie Went By by Carolyn Dunn (who doesn't bake pies), pictures by Christopher Santoro (who is especially fond of cherry pies) (HarperCollins, 2000). A tongue-in-cheek cumulative tale about King Bing, who, balancing a pie on his head, is on his way to propose to Queen Bea. Various critters along the way try to trick him into dropping the pie to no avail, so they end up following him, repeating their humorous retorts. Recipe for cherry pie included, with cherry and eyeball endpapers.

     


                       
   

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6. what kind of pie are you?




You Are Lemon Meringue Pie



You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweet.

You always know how to brighten someone's mood, but you're not overly sappy.

In fact, you can be a bit too honest at times. And most people find that refreshing.

While you're always true to yourself, you keep things light. That's how people are able to stomach your slightly bitter outlook.



Those who like you have well refined tastes.

You're complicated - and let's face it - a true enigma.

You enjoy defying expectations, and there are many layers to your personality.

There's not one easy way to define you.



 

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7. What I'm up to...

Yeah, yeah... excuses excuses... No, really, I *have* been reading. But mostly I've just been reading this over and over and over again, to my elephant-addicted son. And while I don't love it enough to blog it, my son's discerning toddler-tastes would indicate that Gilles Bachelet is a total genius, and worthy of kidliterati status. No really, it's cute. But enough about my kid. What about

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8. Our big sisters and brothers...


We want to take a minute to post about the Class of 2k7. If it weren't for them we certainly wouldn't be here, doing this insane thing as a group. It was their crazy idea that got this ball rolling.

Thanks guys!

We'll never know how much the "class" concept helped, but it's astounding what these authors accomplished last year. We should only be so lucky...

Sara Zarr was nominated for a National Book Award!

AND

Melissa Marr hit the NYTimes list!

And that's just a few!

But that brings us to the point of today's post... which is that some of the members of the Class of 2k7 might not be books you've heard about.

One thing we want to mention, going into 2k8, is that we're aware that we won't all debut on the NYTimes list. And of course we realize that all 28 of us also can't be nominated for the Newberry or the National Book Award.

This makes things tricky, because of course we'd all love to "win" and we all admire and respect each other, and feel that we all deserve to "win".

And it can be hard when someone shoots into the stratosphere, because success begets success. So if Class member X gets a Printz nod, they'll be much more likely to get MORE attention, and MORE awards. Leaving those of us with "quieter" books to pat each other on the back, and dream of the kids out there who love our poor awardless books.

With that in mind, we're all going to do our best to support each other. But as a few of our books take off (and we hope they will) we're going to do everything we can to share the glory around a little. To remember that although we might not all be famous, we're all authors, and classmates... and by the end of the year we really hope to be friends.

We thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog to imagine this odd aspect of the Class of 2k8. That by definition, some of us will sell more books, get better reviews. And so that means that, by definition, some of us will get less.

And now... today... before that happens, we want to say this out loud...

THESE BOOKS ARE ALL GREAT! Whether they make the front page or not... Read the rest of this post

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9. save your fork, there's pie!


 


"A homemade pie with a flaky crust is one of life's greatest joys. Such a crust is airy, yet has texture. It makes its presence known without being assertive. It displays one of the great struggles of the universe, the tension between being and nothingness, right there in a 9-inch pie pan."  ~ Rob Kasper, Baltimore Sun

           
         Poster reproduced by permission,  ©  copyright 2008 Julie Paschkis,
         all rights reserved


Boy, do I need some pie. 

Last week, I had to give my dentist $2400. I mean, I like him and everything -- he was surprised that someone as young as me (hee) could idolize Bob Dylan, and he confessed that he ate 6-year-olds for breakfast. I like a man with a good appetite. But $2400? 

And then on Saturday I was all set to try some turnip cakes because of Tricia. But after driving all the way to our favorite dim sum restaurant, we discovered it was gone. Mamma Lucia's had taken over. Damn those meatballs! We then tried to console ourselves with some sushi, and just for a moment, I thought things would be okay. Then our Japanese Clark Kent waiter said something terrible: "Thank you, Ma'am."

      
               AAAAARRRRGGHHHHHHHHHH!

It was the fourth time somebody had called me "Ma'am" in just three days.

Do you think my loose neck skin gave me away? My size 16 bloomers? Nah. It was probably my old teeth, teeth only a dentist could love.

See why I need to inhale some serious pie?

Comfort me, calm me, fill me, appease me. I love you, pie.

     
Hello, banana cream, so cool, smooth, the true essence of puddin' and pie and happy childhood days.

     
Sing to me, fresh apple, all warm, cinnamon-y, and bubblin' over with homespun goodness.
                            
Lay it on me, lemon meringue, with your airy mountain of dreaminess, beautifully blending all that is tangy and sweet.  

    
Tempt me, pecan, with your perfect pairing of nutty crunch and brown sugar ooze.

            
Thank you, pumpkin, rich with spices and memories of family gathering round.

  
Pretty please me, peach, with the essence of summer and the South will rise again!

So bring on the shortcrust, double crust, and crumbs. Make room for some brown betty, cobbler, and buckle. Hide your chicken and pull out the pasties. June's for celebrating pie, glorious pie. 

Sugar pie, chess pie, custard and tart. 
Sweetie pie, cutie pie, you've stolen my heart!

Tell me, wouldn't you just die without pie?

What's your favorite?
                                               

Serving a special piece of gratitude for Jules of 7-Imp, who pointed me to Julie's divine "Eat Pie" poster!

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10. the meaning of "american pie" by don mclean



For our first piece of pie this month, here is a cool video that interprets the lyrics of this famous song, recorded and released by singer-songwriter Don McLean in 1971.

"American Pie" was named the number five song of the 20th century by the Songs of the Century educational project, because of its importance to America's cultural and musical heritage.


BTW, what were you doing in 1971?



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11. pies in the nursery, or, let's put the people back in the pie


    


Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair;
Said Simple Simon to the pieman, "Let me taste your ware."
Said the pieman to Simple Simon, "Show me first your penny."
Said Simple Simon to the pieman, "Sir, I have not any!

Even if you can't remember the very first pie you ever sank your teeth into, chances are very good that you can recite the most well known pie encrusted nursery rhymes with a certain flair and bravado. 

Whether you favor Simple Simon, Georgie Porgie, Little Jack Horner, or Sing a Song of Sixpence, let's face it -- they all taste good rolling around in our mouths, evoking happy childhood days when we cared more about cadence than calories.

As I mentioned back in November when I did Mother Goose Week, many of these seemingly innocuous rhymes have interesting histories and were written to satirize or immortalize political events. There really was a Jack Horner, for example; he was a steward to Richard Whiting, Bishop of Glastonbury (1461-1539). When Henry VIII began seizing all the abbeys for their gold and estates, Whiting tried to bribe the crown by offering the deeds to 12 manors, secreted in a large pie entrusted to Horner.

On the way to London, Horner knew this bribe was futile, so he pulled out the deed for the "plum" of all estates, Mells Manor. Whiting was accused of treason and his abbey was destroyed, but Horner moved into Mells, where his descendants lived until the 20th century (no doubt enjoying all manner of pies).

But my favorite pieful nursery rhyme is Sing a Song of Sixpence:

Sing a song of sixpence a pocketful of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

The king was in his counting house counting all his money,
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!



Apparently hiding living things in pie was pretty common in olden times as a form of banquet entertainment. Just when I thought live blackbirds were a pretty cool surprise, I come to find they also included other small animals, such as frogs, turtles and rabbits. The ultimate surprise, however, involved small people! Yes, diminutive individuals were hidden in pies, popping out to the delight of assembled guests, after which time they might stroll up and down the table doing tricks or reciting poetry.



Probably the most famous of these little pie poppers was Jeffrey Hudson (1619 -1682), whose birthday is this Saturday. (Be sure to sing the birthday song in his honor, for he deserves your remembrance.)

At age seven, Jeffrey was served in a cold pie to surprise King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria (15 at the time) at a banquet given in their honor by the Duke and Duchess of Birmingham. Before Henrietta could cut into the pie, Jeffrey popped out, a perfectly proportioned 18" little man, dressed in a suit of miniature armour. The Duke graciously presented Jeffrey to Henrietta as a gift, since upon seeing him she was keen to add him to her collection of oddities. Jeffrey was dubbed "Lord Minimus," and became the Queen's dwarf, trusted companion and court favorite for 18 years. He was charming, delightful and even inspired several poems and narratives.

         
             Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffrey Hudson
             by Van Dyck (1633)
             National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Apparently he didn't grow another inch until after he left court, was kidnapped by pirates twice, and descended into slavery for 25 years. I guess during this time he wasn't called upon to hide in any more pies, so he allowed himself to grow another 45 inches. Though Simon's rhyme is more well-known, I vote for Jeffrey Hudson as the ultimate pieman!

So, my friends, if your cherry is the pits, your custard won't pass muster, and, God help you, your pecan has everyone positively peeved, consider prebaking a double crust, and then filling it with one or two of your shorter friends. This will guarantee your stature as an uber hostess, and no one will ever call you flaky.

Seconds and thirds:

If you're in a crafty mood, try making your own blackbird pie out of construction paper and a few art supplies.

Order this cute blackbird pie print by Debbi Hubs.

If you're in the mood to let off a little steam, get a ceramic pie bird.

Best of all, for some musical pie, watch Nina Mae McKinney and the Nicholas Brothers in this fabulous old time soundie, "Pie Pie Blackbirds," circa 1932! Sure to get your feet a tappin' . . .


                            
   (Thanks to Linda Stradley, "The History of Pie," What's Cooking America, 2004.)

 

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12. mom and apple pie, part one


  "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." ~ Carl Sagan


                  

Everyone, please rise.

Apple pie has entered the room.

Sing or salute, if you like. It's the patriotic thing to do. And if your mom is nearby, give her a hug.

 Apple pie = America.

It's part of our collective consciousness -- the place where food, emotions, memories, and idealism converge. Yet how did it come to symbolize so much -- the prosperity of a nation, core family values, nostalgia for white-haired grandmas with rolling pins, the comfort of childhood and home in an age when families live splintered lives?

Apple pie didn't even originate in America. Its modern-day form can be traced back to 14th century England. One of the first printed recipes appeared in a cookbook called The Forme of Cury by Samuel Pegge (1390 A.D.), a compilation prepared by King Richard II's master cooks, later presented to Queen Elizabeth I:
       
           (Source: Project Gutenberg Ebook)

Crust recipes were not usually included in these early cookbooks because pastry-making was more-or-less common knowledge among Medieval cooks. The apple tart cited here was a large, shallow open pie without a top crust. As with all other pies, or coffins, baked during this period, the crusts were hard and
tough -- they served as containers and serving vessels and were not meant to be eaten. Sugar was scarce and expensive and wasn't incorporated in pie baking until the 16th century, when pastry became edible.

Though the Egyptians are credited with the idea of pie, Greeks with pastry crust, and the Romans with spreading the delicious word about pie throughout Europe, it was the English who made pie an institution. When the Pilgrims came to America, they brought along their favorite pie recipes, and then adapted them according to availability of ingredients and regional techniques, even "cutting corners" by making pies round.

Pie speaks to the colonization of America and the subsequent expansion of the country as pioneers (who served pie at every meal) forged west. Only the crab apple was indigenous to the U.S., but European settlers brought other species and planted them widely. Apples could survive a variety of climates and made good pies whether the fruit was dried, canned, frozen, or fresh. In different regions of the country, different versions of apple pie abounded, to include slumps, cobblers, tarts, turnovers, buckle, pandowdy, and crisp.

    

Jack Kerouac supposedly ate apple pie a la mode every day while "on the road." Perhaps this slice of homemade nostalgia was a stabilizing element in his days of creative wanderlust. Back then, it was easy to find good old fashioned apple pie and point to the person who had baked it. Not anymore. No one seems to have the time.       

          

Pie cannot be hurried. It takes time and caring to peel and slice apples, roll out a crust and shape it lovingly by hand. It also takes time to share some pie with the new neighbor across the street, or have a fresh slice waiting when a child gets home from school. Fewer and fewer of us make (or know how to make) a pie from scratch; far easier to pop a Pepperidge Farm or Marie Callender into the oven, or drop by the bakery on the way home from work. Yet most of us yearn for it. At any given moment, we can conjure up our ideal apple pie:

A light flaky crust with perfect crumbling capacity, not too tough and never soggy. An enticing mound of uniformly cut apple chunks, bathed in its own warm syrup, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and a little lemon juice. If you are so inclined, topped off with a generous scoop of creamy, homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

    

With Independence Day coming up in a couple of weeks, I hope you will consider baking your own apple pie. The crust is critical and does take practice. But chances are good that your friends and family will appreciate the time and caring you took just for them. As you're rolling out the dough, reflect on our early pioneers, who scraped together a pie from whatever scant meat, berries, or fruits they could find, or the Pilgrims who braved treacherous journeys across the Atlantic with family pie recipes in hand.

American Apple Pie is a very hardworking icon -- it fills the void of family far away and symbolizes a small-town way of life that is in danger of disappearing. It's a persistent and resilient myth that endures no matter what else pops up on the star spangled plate. That's a lot to ask of any pie. Cherish your slice.

"It is utterly insufficient . . . as anyone who knows the secret of our strength as a nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of the changing seasons. PIE IS THE FOOD OF THE HEROIC. No pie-eating people can ever be vanquished."  ~ New York Times, (1902)

Tomorrow: Apple Pie memories and a couple of recipes!

            

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