Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just Call Me Simple Simone

I got some comments on Facebook and in real life that it was unforgivable that I was asked to bake six pies for the teacher appreciation dinner at school yesterday. I suppose I should mention that the president of the PTO and the hospitality officer both go to church with me and are good friends of mine. They seem to feel sort of reverant about my pies and if you can't ask big favors of your friends, well then, who?

Oh, and they also paid me.

I managed my time well for this project, if I may boast. I made my pie crusts well in advance and put them in pie-sized blobs in the freezer. Two days before the meal, I put the frozen blobs in the fridge to thaw. The morning before the meal, I rolled out and baked the two crusts that needed to be pre-baked before filling. That afternoon, I made a strawberry pie. I use a different pie crust for strawberry pie. It is easily made - mixed up and patted out in the pie pan. That evening, I filled those two pre-baked crusts, and rolled out and fluted two more crusts. I kind of decided at the last minute to do Erika's recipe for frozen coconut pie. I used a purchased graham cracker crust and it went together in less than 15 minutes. Great recipe. No baking required, just popped it in the freezer.

The morning of, I had four chilled (or frozen) pies ready to go and two pies yet to bake that were meant to be served warm. One was a Peach Cream Pie. I prefer to make it when peaches are in season, but since they aren't I had to resort to frozen peach slices. I consider it my best pie, so I didn't want to leave it off the menu. I'll share the recipe with you in late summer when I'm making the pie left and right.

The final pie was Rhubarb Crumble Pie, which I've never made before. My family likes rhubarb, but when I use it, I usually make a crisp. Since pies were the thing this week, I found this recipe for and it was a rousing success. The teachers really liked it.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 1/2 lbs. rhubarb stalks
1/3 c. water
3 T flour
3/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 t. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Trim and rinse rhubarb stalks. Slice them into 1/2 - 1 inch chunks. Especially large stalks might need to be cut in half lengthwise.

3. Combine the rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, combine 3 T flour and 3/4 c. sugar. Mix it up well and add it to the rhubarb mixture. Stir it up in the saucepan and bring the whole thing just to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and stir often while it cooks for five minutes. It will thicken significantly, but another goal is to get the rhubarb tender. Remove from heat. The recipe suggests that you could add some red food coloring at this point to make the filling more attractive, but I didn't do that.

5. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until topping is browned and filling is bubbly.

6. Serve warm.

The run down of the pies was this: banana cream, peanut butter (When I have to make large amounts of pies, I always make these two, because I can just make a big batch of vanilla pudding and line the bottom of the pies with different ingredients: banana slices or peanut butter crumbs.), frozen coconut cream, strawberry, peach cream and rhubarb crumble.

The teachers were very appreciative of the whole meal and couldn't believe they were getting homemade pies. See, that's why I feel sort of evangelical about kitchen work. These are things that our mothers and grandmothers did without thinking they were special. And it seems insurmountable to many of my contemporaries. I really would hate for this kind baking to be lost and I hope my kids will feel like it's something they could do when they are grown.

(Anyway, I forgot to tell you that the rest of the meal was Haystacks. I think this might be a colloquial kind of thing that all of you may not know about. Hmmm... maybe it's another blog entry...)


  1. hah - yes, I know Haystacks! But I don't think they're an East Coast thing.

    I'm so impressed with your pies. They're beautiful and I don't know how the teachers chose one slice - I would have had a sliver of each. Pie is my absolute favorite dessert - trumps everything. I can't wait for your peach cream pie recipe! I'm going to make rhubarb pie tomorrow.

  2. Why, oh why, do I never make a p.b. pie? I love it!

    With this pie marathon you have ably upheld the honor of homemakers everywhere. We thank you and blow you a little kiss with our gloved hands.

  3. @Margo - Dontcha just love a pie. My dad's favorite is apricot, and I love it, too. But I never think to make it except for family functions because I guess I don't think other people eat it. And the out-to-here pregnant art teacher started with a slice of strawberry... got a smaller piece of peach... and decided she might as well go all in and had a whole pie sampler. THen she said she could tell I was Mennonite. :) Not even a little.

    @Reb - Do PB pies not show up at your potlucks? Every time I make one, I think of our blushing bride mistake... Note to self: must bake the pie shell first!

    (I don't know why this computer doesn't recognize me. It's me! DB!)

  4. PB pies are always at the PA Dutch buffet restaurants. I think the progressive Mennos I hang with are in recovery from, amongst other things, pie. Our potlucks tend to be heavy on the curried what-not.

    Were we ever ignorant enough to make that crust mistake? We did well to blush!


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