Keep your fork—there’s pie!!!

October 1, 2011 • 10:05 am

The title of this post comes from a famous—and probably apocryphal—anecdote about the Duke of Edinburgh and pie. It’s on a page of pie quotes hosted by the subject of this post: the Hoosier Mama Pie Company in my own town of Chicago.

There is a story about the Duke of Edinburough [sic], the Queen’s husband, visiting a small town in northern Canada. During the royal visit he had lunch at the local diner. He was accompanied by his entourage and members of the local and national press who crowded into the adjacent booths and tables. It is easy to imagine the attention lavished on a British Monarch dining at the local establishment. Of course all eyes were on the royal booth when the restaurant’s proprietress came to the table to clear the plates and while gently lifting it from his plate, smiled warmly, and advised “Keep your fork Duke, there’s pie.”

True or not, pie is sublime.  And when uppity furriners claim that America has made no contribution to world cuisine, I reply with a withering one-word retort: “pie”.  (If asked for two, I’d add “barbecue”.)  Filled with applies, cherries, pecans, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, key lime custard, or—my favorite—strawberries, and topped with ice cream or whipped cream, or even desnuda, pie is surely one of the gustatory glories of the world.

American pie is gutsy, unlike the tasty but insubstantial tartes of France.   No other country has anything like it, save for the savory pies of Britain.  Even our northern neighbor, Canada, has debased the genre, producing the odious flipper pie, made with seal flippers (one of these disgusting foodstuffs appears in the movie of the Annie Proulx book, The Shipping News).

So yesterday, when my friend Miranda Hale, Gender Traitor and Known Enemy of the Catholic Church, had a birthday, she asked for pie rather than cake.  A wise decision!  Sadly, her parents got her a store-bought peach pie, which by all accounts was tasty, but rather sad compared to what I’m about to describe:

Miranda and her birthday pie

But merely hearing about pie made me salivate. So, when I went to the western store on Chicago Avenue this morning to get new heel caps put on some cowboy boots, I realized that the Hoosier Mama pie company was only a block away.  The place has been open for only a few years, but is already a legend among Chicago food cognoscenti.  All the pies are handmade, containing only the finest ingredients, and assembled by a dedicated team of women.  The store recently received a “great neighborhood restaurant award” from the most discriminating of Chicago food websites, the LTH Forum.

Their pies are not cheap (they run about $20 per pie, or $4/slice), but are very highly reputed.  So reputed, in fact, that when I stopped by their small storefront shortly after 9 a.m., there were people already lined up for whole pies, and others sitting at the few tables nomming pie and coffee for breakfast (there are few better breakfasts, by the way, than a piece of pie and a cup of coffee). Note the dog on the sidewalk, who clearly wants pie. . .

A small sample of their offerings was on display in front, and the listing of all available pies on a blackboard hanging from the ceiling (as always, click to enlarge):

But an even tastier display comprises the racks of pies cooling behind the counter.

Note that these pies look handcrafted, and they are.   This is, I believe, one of the owners (I can’t recall her name), making the next batch:

What to buy? I didn’t want to make a pig of myself, but I did want to try more than one item.  I settled on two slices: a Hoosier sugar cream pie and a caramel cream with banana (recommended by the cashier). Sugar cream pie, a Midwestern speciality, is the essence of simplicity, for the filling contains only sugar, cream, and butter. You’d think it would be cloying, but it’s not—it’s sublime, rich and creamy with a slight butterscotch/crème brûlée tang. It would make the perfect breakfast pie.

When I ordered my pies, the server simply took two whole pies from the rack and cut my slices out of them. Here she is with the sugar cream:

Here’s my haul.

I’ve already nommed the sugar cream pie, which was fantastic, and I’m saving the other for tomorrow (I didn’t remove it from its container as it seemed rather fragile).

What’s your favorite pie? Along with strawberry (a rare find), I love good pecan pie (with the nuts throughout the filling, not just as a chintzy layer on top), cherry pie, blueberry pie, Key lime pie (but only if made with genuine Key limes), sour cream-raisin pie, and pear pie with cream cheese.  Whatever you like, be sure to

146 thoughts on “Keep your fork—there’s pie!!!

  1. there are few better breakfasts, by the way, than a piece of pie and a cup of coffee

    … but one of them, especially after a heavy night before, must be cold sherry trifle. Slides down a treat.

  2. As a non-American I feel deprived. We don’t have a pie tradition over here. We do tarts, and of those my favourites are pecan, banoffi (toffee & banana) if it is super-fresh and key lime.

    No doubt you Americans will insist that ours taste nothing like the “real” thing. 🙂

    Also: happy birthday, Miranda!

  3. I’m all in favor of foods whose name is a homonym of the term for the ratio of their circumference to their diameter.

  4. I must admit that pecan and maple pies, along with key lime are two of my favourite pies.

    I do find American recipes too sweet though so I make them by cutting the sugar down by 1/4 or 1/3, depending on the pie recipe.

    A friend made me pumpkin pie and went to the trouble of having canned pumpkin sent from home; I wanted to like it but found it revolting.
    Only English treacle tart, the one made with real treacle and not the golden syrup variety, came close to being as nauseating.

    1. A properly made pumpkin pie cannot be considered revolting by any sentient being. I strongly recommend trying it yourself, as it’s ridiculously simple to make. The hardest part is rolling the crust, and you can avoid that with a pre-formed one (but make sure it’s a good one – most are terrible).

      The best results are obtained when starting with a pumpkin (sugar pie variety, not jack-a-lantern variety), but it’s very nearly just as good with canned raw pumpkin as well. Never get pre-spiced pumpkin in a can.

      The is the recipe found on Libby’s raw pumpkin cans, which I doubt can be improved upon:

      3/4 cup sugar
      1 tsp ground cinnamon
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp ground ginger
      1/4 tsp ground cloves
      2 eggs
      15 oz pumpkin puree
      12 oz evaporated milk

      Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat eggs lightly, then stir in pumpkin and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk, then pour mixture into an unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees, then bake for another 40+ minutes (until a knife inserted just off center comes out clean).

      While there are some people who like hot pumpkin pie, they are heathens. The only proper way to eat it is refrigerator-cold, optionally with a bit of whipped cream on top.

      If you follow that recipe and don’t like the pie, then there’s simply no hope for you.

      1. I think a key factor is that the properly made pumpkin pie does *not* used canned pumpkin. Indeed, I can’t think of any kind of pie that can benefit from canned ingredients. Most frozen fruit does work acceptably, however, when fresh ingredients aren’t available.

          1. I would expect that your own canned cherries are better than store bought. And anything would be better than what gets sold as “pie filling.” The Devil’s brew!

      2. Thanks for the recipe; I’ll keep it in case I ever get my hands on the right pumpkin.
        That would probably be the most difficult part in the UK.

        We either get the Jack-O’-Lantern type or some smaller ones best suited for savoury dishes.

  5. We used to have a local pie shop that sold a chocolate bourbon pecan pie that was to die for. It was so rich and so sweet, you would only want a half slice–any more and you would get sick! The pecans were chopped up, so evenly distributed, and the crust was just right–flaky, light and crisp. Normally, I’m not a big fan of pie, but I think it’s because I’m so picky. It’s easy to end up with a bad crust or soggy filling. This pie was perfect every time. *sigh*

  6. Hold on! Pies are America’s contribution to world cuisine?

    Maybe some specific kinds of pie — say, pecan — are, but not pies generically. Especially, “as American as apple pie” is bogus: English apple pie recipes go back to the time of Chaucer: “The 1381 recipe … lists the ingredients as good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears.” [Wikipedia]


    1. I was gonna say. There’s a show over here (U.S.) hosted by Alton Brown called “Good Eats.” It is far and away the best, most informative cooking show. Anyway, he did an episode about pie and its origins.

        1. My memory was a little off. Brown does give a short history of the general idea of pie, but also claims it was the Pennsylvania Dutch who invented the specific iteration with which we’re familiar today.

          “Good Eats” is the only cookin show worth watching, imo.

          1. Speaking of Pennsylvania Dutch, they are the source of two of my favority pies: Sho-Fly Pie (very sweet) and rhubarb pie (sweet and tart).

            We had Pennsylvania Dutch friends who would make wonerous pies from scratch.

      1. Hmm… maybe apple has a generic sense of “fruit” as well as a specific one… ? (As in the story metaphor of Adam and Eve… )

        Anyway, it sounds scrumptious to me!


  7. I NEVER go to a bakery.

    I make pecan pie, pumpkin pie with FRESH pumpkin (you will NEVER go back to canned!!), and blueberry.

    I also make apple crisp, not technically a pie, but just as good, with homemade cajeta (I know, you non-goat people can’t do that at home) and fresh whipped cream.

    Our strawberries that we planted last year are starting to bear fruit, so there will be strawberry pie in the future, too.

    Come and visit!! L

  8. East coast Canadians are experts at apple pies, and sugar pie is a specialty of French Canada. Just because someone was adventurous with seal flippers (perhaps there’s jealousy involved) don’t presume to malign an entire country’s pie tradition.

    I’m told the Germans have a dab hand with the apples, too.

      1. Oh, I’m not knocking it. I’m suggesting Jerry is jealous of the ingenuity and spirit of adventure involved, and is thus inclined to speak ill of it.

        Haven’t tried it, but would if given the opportunity.

    1. I’m glad someone hopped on here and defended Canadian pie making! Those of us from the west are also quite adept at pies, particularly huckleberry (the most amazing berry pie there is), peach, and cherry pies. We just happen to start eating our pumpkin pie during the more civilized month of October rather than waiting all the way until November…

  9. Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie with a streusel top.

    Cherry Pie (no tapioca!)

    Pecan Pie (Yes, nuts throughout)

    Key lime Pie (with the smaller, sweeter key limes)

    Banana Cream Pie (An Emeril Lagasse recipe with Bananas also in the graham cracker crust and homemade custard filling.

    1. Rhubarb and strawberries have a love-love relationship, far as I’m concerned. I grew up on that, apple and occasionally cherry and blueberry.

      Can’t go wrong with a really good lemon meringue, though.

  10. Like most cliches, “easy as pie” is fundamentally true. With only a little practice, anyone can make a fine pie. The ingredients a few and basic, the technique uncomplicated, the tools simple to use. Our favorites here in northern Vermont are blackberry-rhubarb and apple-raspberry.

    The definition of a Yankee, they say, depends on whom you ask. South of the Mason-Dixon line a Yankee is someone from the north. In the north a Yankee is someone from New England. In New England a Yankee is a Vermonter, and in Vermont a Yankee is a person who eats pie for breakfast.

  11. Nice pie story, but you’re wrong to claim pie as uniquely American culinary contribution. I lived in the US for 6 years and had great pies over there, but they were largely identical to the ones I ate as a child in Britain, where we have a very strong “gutsy” pie tradition for both savory and sweet varieties.

    As stated on wikipedia, apple pie recipes in England date back to the time of Chaucer. Full-crust apple pie recipes (i.e. not a tart at all ) and lemon-meringue pie can both be found in Mrs Beeton’s famous cookbook printed first in 1861.

  12. No no no – pie has a pastry TOP, though not always a pastry base. These are therefore not pies – they are indeed tarts, like my favourite, treacle tart. The best pie I ever made was wild boar pie, using puff pastry. Take one wild boar… 😉

    1. PS making a venison stew right now, with parsnips & turnips & runner beans, using some Nelson’s Revenge (Norfolk beer) for the stock. Anyone want to join me?

        1. I have this idea of Darwin sitting down to dinner, joking with his children by naming all his food by species. Mine was probably Cervus elephas!

  13. From my own experience, the US is used to a greater variety of dessert pies than is routinely found in old England but, then, that nation has had the whole of European tradition and taste brought to it to build and improve upon. (I’m thinking also what they/you did to the Italian pizza!)

    One thing we Brits can claim to have invented, apparently, is the crumble (usually sweet rather than savoury). It has become very fashionable in France, I am told. Rhubarb or apple or apple and blackberry fillings work well – the first is best made with the delicate indoor ‘forced’ crop rather than the tougher stuff taken from a garden.

      1. Like it or not, he asked us to name our favorites. And mine is rhubarb (straight up, no strawberries).

          1. Agree. Rhubarb pie is wonderful, as are gooseberry pie and my favorite breakfast treat–shoofly pie (although the latter is considered more of a cake by some, being fruitless).

            1. I love rhubarb pie (or strawberry rhubarb). Because my grandfather grew copious amounts of rhubarb, I grew up eating all sorts of rhubarb dishes and grew to love the taste of it (as long as it’s sweetened).

              & I’ve never had gooseberries. I looked them up, and it seems like they’re mostly found in the UK, but also in the American northeast. Is that correct? I’ve found that there are quite a few regional differences in the US when it comes to berries. For example, on more than one occasion I’ve had friends from other parts of the US look at me in confusion when I’ve discussed how delicious huckleberries are, because huckleberries are apparently not very common outside of the pacific northwest (where I live) and other parts of the west coast.

              1. Gooseberries are a cold-climate crop, by and large. There are two broad groups of cultivars, those derived Eurasian species (I think they’re hybrids of quite complex parentage), and those derived from North American species.

                The former are unfortunately subject to gooseberry mildew, which is prevalent pretty much throughout North America, though I had success with several English cultivars many years ago here in Victoria, BC.

                The latter group, while not subject to gooseberry mildew, are simply not as good, perhaps because their breeding hasn’t been in hand for so many years. Instead of the big, fat, sweet gooseberries of England, the North American-descended cultivars tend to be small and less flavorful.

                I eventually gave away my gooseberry bushes after the gooseberry sawfly found them and began defoliating them every year, as well as leaving the berries filled with maggots. They were “okay”, but I prefer more the richly flavored blueberries and blackberries.

  14. My Mum used to make strawberry & gooseberry pie (fruits about 50:50); that’s my favorite. Gooseberry pie’s good too.

    1. My mother, daughter of a midwestern farmer, spent her high school years with a relative who lived in town near the high school. As an adult, she couldn’t stand gooseberries. During those four stressful years at high school, Mama ate gooseberry pie and gooseberry preserves with no end in sight. It didn’t help that the relative she lived with was abusive. (Strict, it was called in those times. Involved lashings.) So I never tasted a gooseberry.

  15. I was about 12 years old when visiting my maternal grandmother in southeastern Minnesota, we stopped by a cousin’s house. Cousin had just finished baking four apple pies, and she insisted we eat pieces that were the size of San Francisco Bay. (Okay, a little exaggeration there, but that’s my frame of reference…)

    It was sublime. Just the right amount of sugar (I was growing up, and appreciating stuff without too much sugar) and piled enormously high with apple slices. Perfect seasoning. Melt-in-your-mouth crust. Wow, my defining pie experience, at age 12.

    At age 51, now I feel let down.

  16. Ya know, $20 for a good, home-made, pie ain’t bad when you consider that they want $6 or $7 for a little, dried out, pie in the supermarket.

  17. I was about to say any kind of cream pie, but googling for a good picture disabused me of that quite quickly.

    So, pumpkin pie. A homemade pumpkin pie is absolutely sublime.

    The rest of the year, apple or key lime.

    1. Ha! Yeah, don’t Google for that.

      But Cream Pies (the edible kind, not the porno kind) are quite good. Chocolate Cream is the best…

      (Also… is it possible that readers could keep their heads out of the gutter while reading that? :D)

      1. I didn’t even think about it, and I wanted to look up some recipes. So I just googled creampies and, well, I will *not* be making that mistake again.

        I think chocolate can improve any dish. Perhaps even bacon.

  18. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite.

    It’s damned hard to beat blackberry, made with berries picked from Albany Hill (not that far from the UC Berkeley campus).

    And rhubarbs grown in a little plot on the south face, not far from the summit, of Buckskin Mountain in Nevada also make superlative pies.

    Pumpkin pie is nice, yes, but nowhere near as good as when made with kabocha squash grown in Tempe, Arizona.

    Houston’s restaurants makes a mighty nice key lime pie.

    I should probably stop there….



  19. I’d have to start by saying that I don’t like any kind of nuts. Never have, never will. So if a pie has nuts in it, I won’t be eating it.

    My favorite pie has to be fresh Key Lime (fresh as in made with real, fresh, never-canned ingredients). I actually made one myself about three years ago. My girlfriend at the time switched her favorite dessert to my Key Lime Pie after eating it… 😀

    Indeed, my dad *hates* Key Lime Pie, but I’m proud to say had 4 slices of mine.

    My second favorite is any dark chocolate pie. My mom made me a death-by-chocolate pie for my 21st birthday:
    -Semisweet Chocolate chips
    -Godiva Chocolate Liquor
    -Homemade chocolate crust
    -Cocoa and confectioner’s sugar
    -A little vanilla
    -Homemade chocolate whipped cream
    -Numerous dark chocolate candies placed into the filling after cooking (so they wouldn’t melt)
    -Served with a dark chocolate ice cream

    I think I died and went to chocolate heaven. I managed to convince her to make a second one because the first one disappeared in less than an hour.

    My third favorite pie is lemon meringue, without a doubt.

    Other fave pies include apple, pear, strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, multi-berry, pomegranate (yes, pomegranate pies exist), lemon-lime, peanut-butter cup…

    Though, as an atheist, I have to say the Baby Pie is a wonder of a delicacy… 😀

  20. My favourite is the three berry pie made by Tate’s Bake Shop.

    Also, contrary to the details in the anecdote, the Duke of Edinburgh is not a monarch, although he is married to one.

  21. Whilst I agree that pie is awesome, and that Americans have advanced the cause of the pie. It would be disingenuous as an Englishman to let the comment about the English only producing savoury pies.

    We have had fruit pies since at least the 14th century, albeit with much less fruit.

    Nevertheless, those pies look awesome.

    1. Not all pie… but well-made pumpkin pie is superb for breakfast. If you want to control the calories, leave the crust. I don’t see it as any different than a breakfast pastry or bagel with cream cheese, other American favorite breakfasts…

      1. Let me be clearer then.

        Out of pies or pie labeled foods, I would think shepherd’s pie rate as food. But it is heavy, and I would only taste it once or twice a year outside of having a whole day of hard physical activities. (Say, shepherding. =D)

        The remainder are not foods but sweets, best used as side dish or better dessert. I would again taste them sparingly as main course, but also as side dish/dessert. They would not even be considered as ‘breakfast’ by me.

        [Breakfast would have some sugars to get started fast, see my earlier statement. Never fats but some carbohydrates as base, preferably hard to digest. It is vital to have a robust but healthy breakfast to get through the day without having your stomach act up on you. Massive amount of fats (and sugars) tend to do that in ordinary individuals.]

  22. Ah yes, the good ol’ Birthday Pie tradition!
    Nobody, but NOBODY, can bake a pie like my Mom, and some of my favorite Birthday Pies were/are:
    Blueberry, Rhubarb, Banana Creme, Lemon Meringue, and of course, Apple Pie with a slice of cheese (as she’d say, “apple pie without some cheese is like a hug without a squeeze”)! Since moving to Texas, I’ve discovered the joy of Pecan Pie—mmmmm, mmmmm, MMMMMM!!!

    I travelled with the circus for a few years, and they had a very different Birthday Pie tradition. You’d try hard to keep your birthday a secret, because if folks found out you’d get–naturally–a pie in the face!

  23. My father, who was born in 1919 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, often told this story about the Duke:

    “The Duke of Edinburgh was coming to Prince George. Royalty! So a special dinner was planned at the only hotel in town. The call went out (it being a small town) to collect the finest table cloths, silverware and china from everyone. Local fare of rainbow trout, rabbit and moose was prepared by local chefs and everyone was dressed in their sunday best.

    The hosting and dinner were well received. However, when removing the plates from the Royal table, a waiter said loudly “Hang on to your fork, Duke, there’s pie comin’!”

    There is obviously some truth to the story, though where it actually occurred should be the subject of a Royal Commission (Canadian joke).

    1. tHE same story is told regarding the Duke and Princess Elizabeth visiting Kapuskasing northern Ontario) in the early 50s, before she became queen.

    2. 1919 plus “Duke of Edinburgh” does not compute. In 1919, it was probably the then-Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, much later the Duke of Windsor. As the then-PofW owned a ranch in Alberta, and was visiting Canada in 1919, he is very likely the original personage of importance in this account.

      BTW, the initial post referred to the Duke of Edinburgh indirectly as “British monarch”, which he most definitely isn’t. His wife is the monarch.

  24. Wait a minute… so this story does not end with Dr. Coyne getting a slice of this top-shelf pie for Miranda for her birthday to make up for the sad (though well-intentioned) slice of store-bought peach pie?


    I think this post needs a follow up with a picture of Miranda enjoying a redeeming slice of Hoosier Mama pie.

      1. Isn’t the trick to mailing cakes and pies “mail them in a transparent container so Mr. Postie can see what he’s handling”?

  25. By coincidence, I had a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning from Sweetie Pies in Fish Creek, WI. My last taste of vacation.

  26. Oh, this makes me sad. Usually, this time of year I’m cranking out 4-6 pies a week, with all the fruit coming from my garden. This spring we had a lot of snow. So much snow that there weren’t any insects. No insects meant no peaches, no apples, no cherries, no plums, no pears and very few blackberries (although the blackberries weren’t snow related). I haven’t had a piece of pie in nine months!

    Yes, I could buy pies or at least some fresh fruit…but it’s not the same, not the same.

    But Happy Birthday to Miranda. I hope it was a good one.

  27. Dont tell my mother people buy pies at $20 a pop. She will start charging me.

    My mom kicks ass at pies, and sometimes that is virtually all I eat when I go home (yes, pie and coffee for breakfast). In no particular order (I cant rank them), my favorites are Moms:

    But when I eat pie not at home, I usually go for apple, just because its the least likely one someone will mess up (I have had the grossest ‘pecan pies’ at restaurants *shudder*)

        1. post it.


          if it’s the BEST EVAH!!

          why isn’t it at the top of your list?


          seriously, I live in NZ now, and the concept of desert pies is an entirely foreign one here; I have much work ahead of me to convince my partner that she would indeed like a good pecan pie.

        2. Please do! I Googled several egg nog pie
          recipes and there was quite a variety. I don’t even have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m getting hungry just thinking about this.

  28. I will not have you Odious ‘Merkins disparaging Canuckistani pie. You haven’t lived until you’ve had Saskatoonberry pie or savoured ( yes, there’s a fucking U) a Butter Tart.

    Fun Fact: Yank is a synonym for Jerk.

    Love and kisses,

    PS I’m telling Eric.

    1. I found the recipe for butter tarts in a little booklet “Favourite Welsh Teatime Recipes”, ISBN 978-1-898435-01-3. A friend whose mother is Welsh says it is *not* a traditional Welsh recipe and suspects it reached Wales via a wartime liaison with a Canadian soldier.

      We’ve seen a video today of blister beetle larvae as a venereal disease. Here’s a recipe as VD too. Remarkable, eh?

      Do Canadian soldiers with superior baking skills have better reproductive success?

  29. Happy birthday Miranda!
    Pie is not really a big deal in Australia and the bought ones are pretty dire. But of the home made ones my favourite is apple pie made with shortcrust pastry and served with lots of custard. I never heard of several of the pies mentioned above so I will have to try some of them if I can locate a recipe. Sugar pie sounds interesting.

    1. Thanks! 🙂

      & Forgive me for the daft question, but what kind of “custard” are you referring to here? (I’ve seen custard mentioned a few times in this thread, so this question is also for anyone else who has brought it up.) The only custards I’m directly familiar with are Crème brûlée and flan/caramel custard, but I assume that you’re referring to something akin to what Americans (and others?) refer to as “whipped cream”?

      I’ve learned quite a few things from this thread about cultural differences in definitions of foods, etc., and that’s awesome, as I’m admittedly a bit clueless about some of those things.

    1. Do NOT!!!!! even think about making mincemeat pie with that bottled dreck you can buy in the groceries.

      A real mincemeat pie must be earned – by making your own mincemeat. Find a good recipe (one that calls for a goodly portion of real liquor and real meat, preferably venison or other game meat). Once you have chopped and mixed and canned a good couple of dozen bottles of mincemeat, and tasted the real thing. Now that is good pie!

      There’s nothing wrong with your fruit, custard and other assorted pies. But real mincemeat can be a life affirming experience.

      1. You know the best thing about mincemeat pie? No one else in my family will touch it. So it’s mine…all mine!

        1. Mordacious, I thought that only applied in my family! Same here, although since my grandmother died the mincemeat pies have not been as memorable….
          Always wondered how the medicinal brandy disappeared quickly before Christmas.

      2. Well, since you brought it up, here’s a very good recipe for mincemeat.

        “Mincemeat II”, p. 418, Fannie Farmer 11th ed. (1964)

        1 lb suet
        1½ lbs (5 medium) apples (Braeburns, Galas, and Fujis all good)
        1 lb dried currants
        1 lb sultana raisins
        1 lb seedless raisins
        4 oz candied lemon peel
        4 oz candied orange peel
        4 oz candied citron
        zest of 2 lemons
        juice of 3 lemons
        1 tsp cinnamon
        ½ tsp nutmeg
        ½ tsp mace
        1 tsp allspice
        whiskey and/or brandy

        Grind suet finely. Pare apples, core, and chop coarsely. Dice candied peels, if necessary. Grate zest from lemons. Squeeze lemons.

        Mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands. Add enough brandy and/or whiskey to moisten well. Pack into jars or a crock and store in a cool place. As you use the mincemeat, add more brandy or whiskey as required.

        This recipe makes a very large quantity of mincemeat and is best prepared 2 to 6 weeks in advance of using it. Keeps for months in a cool place if covered.

  30. How come no-one has mentioned tortiere, the staple of French-Canadian cuisine?
    A delicious fragrant meat pie with a wonderful spicy tang, served with home-made pickles…. a slice of nirvana, or valhalla or something.

    1. Alas (see my other remarks), *poutine* is now the staple of at least Quebecois cuisine. I understand it has also affected Acadian, but I don’t know enough about that to be sure. (And I have no idea what French Canadians from other areas eat.)

  31. For the past 57 years I’ve successfully guilt-tripped mum into baking me a cherry pie *with* lattice crust for my birthday! 😀

    1. Exactly – to be a PIE it needs a CRUST! Pie is food you can hold when cold & put in your mouth without a fork. It was a way of keeping food for longer.

  32. Can’t resist. Those pies on the cooling rack remind me of that old comic strip The Katzenjammer Kids (does anybody remember them from the 40’s and 50’s?). Mama would bake a pie and leave it to cool on the window sill. That mean kid Rollo would sneakily steal the pie and the K. Kids would always get blamed. They knew Rollo was the real culprit and they’d devise some elaborate revenge. At some point The Captain (he wasn’t married to Mama but might have been the K. Kids father) would have to step in and settle things (somebody generally got spanked).

    Anyway, lemon is my favorite pie, with or without meringue. My mom used to bake it for me as far back as I can remember (she didn’t leave it to cool on a window sill though).

  33. Gotta agree that processing your own pumpkin makes a pie better. We always processed our jack-o-lanterns, and also had acorn squash we planted in late summer fruit in November and December. These squashes developed for more northern climes rebelled by making numerous, but very small fruits. Yum! They were already sweet to begin with, so less sugar and more spice. There’s a reason we call these “winter squash” in the South.

    Bake and freeze that squash and you’ve got Squash pie every week until august. And I dare anyone to distinguish between squash pie and pumpkin pie. Winter harvest squash pie is darker and sweeter than pumpkin pie. It’s more like pumpkin pie than real pumpkin pie.

    And people; make your own pastry dough with lard. not shortening. Remember how Crisco used to advertise that Crisco made a flaky golden crust? Crisco was lying to us. They were trying to redefine what constituted a proper crust. Lard makes things smooth and evenly browned. And what are you going to trust? A natural saturated fat that is easily metabolized or an artificial fat that has been shown to increase cholesterol more than natural fats?

    1. I love a thread devoted to food, wonderful food, lovely pie!

      Pumpkins: I’ve tried a variety called ‘Rouge Vif d’Etampes’ and recommend it highly.

      To prepare pumpkin or squash for pies (and similar delights), cut your pumpkin or squash in half, remove the guts, then bake the halves face-down on a cookie sheet at ca. 325F until soft. Scoop out the baked flesh and run it through a food mill or coarse sieve to remove any remaining fibers. (You can use a food processor, but that chops the fibers up, rather than removing them, and the end result isn’t quite as smooth.)

      Among the orange-fleshed squash, ‘Ambercup’ is a winner, but it’s apparently not widely grown, and is hard to find.

      And finally regarding pie crust: a 50-50 mixture of butter and lard is the optimum. Remember to cut the fats into the flour and don’t cut them in too thoroughly. You want your pastry to have pieces of fat in it, rather than being overly uniform.

      Yummity, yum, yum!

      And before I go, let me chant the official pie mantra: “Jeff Davis, Chess, sugar, Black bottom, pumpkin, apple, Key lime, mincemeat, lmeon meringue…”

      1. While on the subject…if at all possible, don’t buy pre-packaged lard; make your own.

        Here in the Valley of the Sun, the Food City markets target the Hispanic community. They often have meat counters with actual butchers. You can ask the butcher to save up pork fat for you and buy it dirt cheap.

        Rendering it into lard is simply a matter of cooking it over medium-low heat. As a bonus, you also get cracklings!



      2. An all-unsalted-butter crust has a lot to recommend it. And when cutting in the shortening and adding ice water to the dough, consider adding a T or two of vodka. It makes the dough easier to work and bakes right out.

    1. p s I’ve just noticed that Nelsons Butchers of Stamford make a Pork Pie Wedding Cake for a very reasonable £75. I feel sure any union blessed by such a confection would be very fruitful.

  34. As a frequent visitor to the US from the UK I admit the fruit pies are good. But you can never get custard, and without custard pies are worthless.

    1. The traditional American accompaniment to a slice of apple pie is a slice of good cheddar cheese.

      Try it; you may re-think your custard position.

      1. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is another common pie accompaniment.

        That said, crème anglaise or sabayon (we don’t call it “custard” over here) is a frequent dessert garnish at high-end restaurants. You probably won’t find it at Hoosier Mama’s, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be had.


    1. Sigh. This is going to require a list:

      #1) Stop shouting. #2) It’s not spam: you signed up for it. #3) What you’re doing here, though, is spamming #4) Anyway, there should be information on how to unsubscribe at the bottom of each email #5) If you can’t find that information in the email, then head to!/following/ when you’re logged in to your WordPress account. #6) If that doesn’t work for you for some reason, see this WP support article: #7) And, if that doesn’t help, both WP support: and Google are your friends.

      Seriously, in the future, do your own research instead of ridiculously and annoyingly shout-spamming someone’s blog, okay?

  36. Nobody’s mentioned coconut custard pie. It used to be a staple of diners in the mid-Atlantic US. It’s what I’d order for dessert ’cause, you know, you can’t always trust the crust on some of the fruit pies.

  37. Living in Ohio, we experience a narrow window in the late summer (mid August-mid September) of peak ripeness and flavor fo peaches — and they are better than anywhere in the world for that brief time. My favorite pie is made from these sublime fruits, and made by my wife, who, in my unbiased opinion, makes the best pie ever. However, I must try the Hoosier Mama pie, simply as an ongoing scientific experiment actually testing the above hypothesis. I am required to assay pies from bakers of high repute to compare them with the wife-made product. So far, the hypothesis has been upheld.

  38. My favorite pie?

    Well, in the interest of keeping things short I’ll just say my grandmother’s homemade peaches and cream pie.

    But one thing I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned yet is shoo-fly pie. I haven’t had it since I was a kid and had relatives in Pennsylvania that we visited every summer. I don’t think I’ve even heard of any place west of the Mississippi offering it.

  39. My grandmother used to make a squash (pronounced “squarsh” in Hoosier) pie that’s still my favorite. Similar to pumpkin, but more cinnamon-y and more subtle in flavor. I think the squash in question was just a standard summer squash, but I’m not sure. Dang, now I need to find Grandma’s old recipe box.

    1. A pumpkin is a squash, of course. Your grandmother’s squash pie would have been a winter squash no doubt, like butternut, not a summer squash, like zucchini.

      1. IIRC, there is a subtle but definite botanical distinction between the true squashes and the pumpkins, though they are clearly very closely related groups of plants. Liberty Hyde Bailey’s “The Garden of Gourds” went into this in some detail iirc, but, alas, I no longer own the book.

        1. There are small distinctions, true enough, but pumpkins are very close in habit to acorn and butternut squash. And, along with gourds, they belong to the same genus, Cucurbita. They’re closely related, too, to cucumbers and melons.

  40. Canadians can’t do pie!? What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?…erm, Jerry? I’d like to kindly point out the fact that it is a Newfoundlander dish, and they do things…differently over there. They didn’t even join the Dominion until 1949…

    But hmm-mmm, pie! Absolutely LOVE pumpkin pie, and strawberry rhubarb! Some one also mentioned Saskatoon berries; like those too, but prefer to save them for bread pudding!

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