Monday, November 25, 2013

Pie For Supper

 For the last two weeks, I've been
I've been making pies to taste, making pies to sell at the Tomato Head restaurants, making gluten free pies, vegan pies, chocolate pies, pumpkin pies, pecan pies.  Pies have been my life, at work, anyway.  But two weeks ago, some friends and I went to the Slow Foods Tennessee Valley Pie Contest. (  Cindy and I started pondering together the idea of a supper entirely composed of pie.  Pie Supper... seasonally apt, culinarily challenging, open to interpretation.  Could be marvelous.  Could be a disaster.  Life without risk is hardly worth living, so the idea stewed in both our brains.
  At the same time, our good friend John was recovering from back surgery.  I started to write him a get-well-soon email, and suddenly, spur of the moment kind of thing, asked him if a Pie Supper wouldn't make him feel better?  He said Yes!  And I forwarded the email to my two favorite food collaborators, Cindy and Dennis.  Unbeknownst to me, Dennis had never actually made a pie.  But no matter!  I didn't know that until Pie Supper Eve!
  For the next two weeks, I made pie, thought about pie, planned pie.  Early this past week, I looked ahead for the weather forecast, and saw that Sunday, Pie Supper Day, would be frigid, highs in the 30's.  And I started thinking about my favorite cold weather supper, Highland Hot Pot.  Mom got the recipe for Highland Hot Pot from a 1970's issue of Family Circle magazine.  HHP became my favorite all-time meal, but I had to know its limits when I requested it for my birthday dinner when I was 12.  Remember, my birthday is in July.  And I grew up in Arizona.  Mom made it, but we all sweated heartily through that dinner.  From then on, it was only served in winter, when it was more appreciated.  In my late teens, it lured me away from being a vegetarian.  How could I resist its luscious tomato-enhanced, tart appliness, pork sausage and bay leaf and beef and heat-retaining potatoes?  I couldn't.
  Now the question became, How do I make HHP into a pie?  It's awfully brothy, and the potatoes in it make it very heavy.  A dinner of only pies could be a lot of dough and weight and a little too hearty, even for a frosty day.  I thought about it all week, bought most of the stuff for it, and thought some more.  I knew I was going to make my non-winning but delicious apple streusel pie, but wanted the other pie to be more savory, no sweet at all, save the apples.
  In the end, I left out the tomato juice, substituted pork tenderloin for the beef stew meat, minus the bay leaf but plus rosemary, thyme and sage.  I added caramelized onions, left out the potatoes and topped it with a cornmeal pie crust.  I put it in the oven with the apple pie, and let them do their stuff.
My kitchen smelled amazing by the time I was able to jump in the shower.  Unfortunately, amazing would also describe the kitchen's appearance, but not in a good way.  As much as I love my house, the kitchen is not made for bakers.  I have three feet of counter top for rolling dough and kneading bread.  Things pile up, and this is usually how my kitchen ends up after a passionate baking session.  Maybe I should have moved the Christmas cactus out of the way...
  My friends are amazing cooks/bakers, fearlessly embracing Pie Supper with gusto. They made beautiful, delicious pies.  Missing, unfortunately, is Cindy's Prickly Pear Chiffon Pie, a beautiful, frothy fuchsia delight, which I also forgot to get a pie of as it went home with someone lucky at the end of supper.  Even though our friend, Pat, pie-maker supreme was invited and couldn't attend, John brought the leftovers of the pie she brought him, and it was also delicious.
  For Dennis' first pie, he made an olive oil crust, surrounding lamb and potatoes with that green relish they serve at Indian restaurants with naan.  He made his; I've only ordered take-out containers of it before.  I want his recipe!
  Cindy also brought a chicken pot pie, with a chicken coop carved in the crust.
  Pie for Supper is a wonderful idea, and we will be repeating this, but not anytime soon.  Our tummies were a little too full, our appetites a little too sated.  I had to take Bella for a long frosty evening walk when everyone left, because I was afraid if I sat down, I would explode.  And now, let the holidays begin!  I'm off to work this morning to make all the special order pies for our customers, with some extras for those who forgot to order.  Happy Thanksgiving!