I did not grow up in a household where dessert was a regular thing. More often than not, when we asked about a sweet treat after dinner, we were pointed to the fruit bowl or a jar of applesauce. However, once or twice a year, there would be pie.
The pie happened on no particular schedule. My mom baked in response to her own cravings and could not be hurried or begging into producing pie. We learned early that it was better to leave her alone and accept the serendipitous pie than try to wheedle it into being. And accept it, we did. Her pies were always sturdy, not-too-sweet creations that piled mountains of fruit into a nutty, half whole wheat crust. My favorite thing was being allowed a slice for breakfast the next day.
Thanks to this early conditioning, pie will be forever feel like a way create a special occasion out of a Wednesday evening. It’s one of the things I hope to do with my kids someday (of course, I have to have them first).
You may be asking yourself, why is Marisa waxing poetic about her childhood pie memories? I recently got a review copy of Ashley English’s new book, A Year of Pies, and now I can’t stop thinking about tucking food, both sweet and savory, between layers of crust.
Some of you probably know Ashley from her blog, Small Measure, or from her other four (!) books on all manner homesteady topics like Keeping Bees and Canning and Preserving. This book is similar in organization to her previous ones in that it offers an extensive section towards the front of the book that walks you through the equipment, the different kinds of crusts (and what each is best for), tips on rolling and the various techniques you can employ to achieve gorgeous crusts, before moving on to the recipes.
Once through that grounding section, the rest of the book is arranged by season, proving unequivocally that pie isn’t just a summer and fall dessert. Any winter day would be made better by the Maple Orange Walnut Pie on page 55 on the Carrot Pie on page 77.
The book contains sweet pies, savory pies (like the homey Chicken Pot Pie pictured below), tarts, galettes, crostada and hand pies. There are both bake and no-bake options and even a pie version of Polish-style stuffed cabbage. Ashley also invited a few of her blogging friends to contribute recipes, including a Gluten-Free Streusel Apple Pie from Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking author Kate Payne.
For those of us who are working our way through baskets of berries and armloads of peaches this time of year, I think it’s important to put a little of that fruit aside and make something that allows us to enjoy the bounty now, as well as later. Pie is on my to-do list for later this week.