Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Search of the Holy Grail - Pie

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

Yesterday I introduced you to my stepfather. He was quite a character in many ways. One of his missions in life was to find the perfect piece of pie. It was an interesting quest that never seemed to have an end. How would know definitively that you'd achieved your goal? What were the criteria for judging such a thing?

He never adequately explained those things, preferring to leave it all a mystery. I knew one thing for sure, he believed that the perfect piece of pie would not be found near an interstate highway. In fact, the quality of the pie rose exponentially in ratio to the distance from civilization. Or that's what he believed.

When he died I felt the need to take up the torch and continue the tradition. It's my duty to taste pies whenever and wherever the occasion arises. I've tasted pie in at least 20 states and three countries. Just this afternoon I picked up this little raspberry pie at the Italian market.


I'm going to eat it right now while I'm typing this post. I'll let you know how it rates.

Once a month a flea market is held at the local fairgrounds. They serve food to the hungry shoppers. The pies are good but the bakery case is in sad shape and doesn't instill faith in the cleanliness.


Here's one of the French nuns selling bakery goods at the flea market. These nuns have the most amazing bakery goods but I can't recall ever seeing a pie. Their booth instills great faith in cleanliness and life in general.


I think I've mentioned before that a restaurant in Kentucky, Patti's 1880's Settlement, makes a wonderful pie called "Sawdust Pie". I ranks as number two on my list.

Currently holding the title of Best piece of pie is the Maple Pecan Pie made by Paula Haney, owner of Hoosier Mama Pie Company. I met her at the fancy food show in Chicago. This was as far as you could get from the grocery store version of pecan pie.


I'd love to hear from you if you have a great pie recipe. Just e-mail it to:

I'm going to be baking pies all summer and reporting the results.

As for that little raspberry pie I started eating at the beginning of this post, it was terrible. The crust was tasteless and the filling tasted like raspberry jam straight out of the jar. Not a contender. Not even close.

NOTE: Did you do your homework? Tomorrow I will present Part 2 of the Make-Do Apron Tutorial. Thread those machines, and get your scissors sharpened. Hope to see you tomorrow, bright and early!


Bobbi said...

Yum - raspberry pie!


Sorry for the awkward link. Marty's Big Ass Pies. How will we get you one to try?


Hey! Also
I've ate plenty of her pies. Plenty. And damn! They're good. (your cleanliness references are cracking me up...I keep reading this over and over again)

Heidi said...

You want pie! Check this gal out! She has a pie porch!!!

Carol VR said...

I hope you post the recipe, should you come across a doo-zie.

jazzi said...

Wow, there's pie better than Patty's Sawdust Pie?
Maybe you could become a judge at the pie contest at the fair. Surely there's a pie contest!

chocolatechic said...

Have you considered the blueberry pie I made for TWD?

Suzanne said...

Bobbi - It was awful. The Farmer's Son just finished it and he had no complaints, but he'll eat anything!

Liberty Gal - I guess I'm going to need to take a road trip, huh? His pies seriously look awesome and I'm dreaming about that pie plate. But if I spent almost eighty dollars on a pie tin my grandmother would rise from grave!!!

About the cleanliness references. Oh my! The Farmer is in the business of fresh herbs. Food safety and cleanliness is beaten into us. Early in his career he worked for a large dairy operation. Their policy was to wash all the trucks (deliver and those large silver tankers) EVERY DAY. They had to be spotless. The thought was that even though the milk never touched the outside of the truck, the condition of the truck gave a message about cleanliness.

Heidi - Ooooh lah. Wow. That's cool.

Carol - I will be posting recipes as I bake, with the permission of the person who submitted it.

Jazzi - Those two pies were close - Sawdust and Maple Pecan - but there's something about that pecan pie.

Chocolate Chic - YES...that pie looked absolutely awesome!! I'm sure it was delicious. Loved the lemon zest. I guess I'm going to have to buy her cookbook and try it.

Simple Answer said...

I can't argue with the brilliance of trying to find the perfect piece of pie.

Jeanette in Texas said...

Next time in Santa Fe eat at El Farrol and get the pecan pie. It was very good. It was almost all pecans and very little goo.

Another good pie that I had was from a pie shop in Blue Fin Bay, Minnestoa. I had the very berry. I love berry pies.

I make an apple pie that makes me happy. It has the crumb top.

Mary said...

That's funny, I am on a quest to see how much weight I can gain during menopause, so maybe I should take up your quest as well...

Strawberry rhubarb is my fave, but I don't have a recipe...

Jill said...

I'm not a huge pie fan... though I will make an exception for Pecan Pie. I do fancy that.

My quest is for the perfect Bloody Mary...

odd chick said...

I love love your heading. Did you do that yourself!! Also your blog was so entertaining. I also live on a farm in New Mexico. We are growing corn and tripicalle right now and we're getting wonderful slow rain!!

Suzanne said...

SA - True, but a weight packing endeavor.

Jeanette - I need a trip to Santa Fe and Blue Fin Bay, Minnesota sounds like just the kind of place that would harbor a perfect slice.

Mary - I understand perfectly because much of my cooking is the "fly by the seat of your pants" variety, meaning there is no recipe.

Jill - I agree, pecan is always at the top of my list. The perfect Bloody Mary? I've been working on that also. The best I found was at a little bar/restaurant in Saugatuck, Michigan. Sorry, I can't remember the name. The Mary was perfectly spicy and was garnished with a long skewer of cheese, olives and hard salami. We would order as an appetizer!

Odd chick - Thanks! My heading was designed by Shannon at EightCrazy design. If you look on my sidebar you'll find a link to her site. Not only does she do custom designs, she has pre-made designs all ready to go! Check her out. She was a dream to work with.

- Suzanne

Suldog said...

You reminded me of a funny story.

My father was traveling with my grandfather, somewhere in the southeastern U.S., and they stopped to have dinner at a roadside restaurant. The place had a big sign out front, "World's Best Apple Pie."

Well, my grandfather loved his pie, same as yours did. So, all through the meal, which from all reports was pretty good, his mouth was watering for that "World's Best" apple pie. Finally, they finished the meal and ordered desert; apple pie, of course.

Now, my father wasn't a shrinking violet, by any means, but he had manners and worried about people's feelings. My grandfather, on the other hand...

He took one bite of the pie, got this sour look on his face, and said, in a very loud voice, "This isn't the world's best apple pie! No, sir! Not even close! Come on, Tommy, let's go!"

My grandfather stood up and started walking towards the cashier. Tommy (my dad), who had been enjoying his apple pie, suddenly felt everyone in the restaurant staring at him. He sheepishly got up, and trailed after my grandfather. Once at the cashier's, my grandfather again stated his opinion.

"That was nowhere close to the best apple pie in the world. I've half a mind to go out there and change your sign myself!"

My father just cringed.

In later years, my father would never eat anyplace with my grandfather if he spotted any sort of sign outside that said "World's Best (whatever)". Once was enough.

Suldog said...

I meant to say "your step-father" not grandfather, of course. Sorry!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

My step mom makes a yummy coconut cream pie. It's my all time favorite.

Karen said...

I love pies. I tend to make mine without referring to a recipe.

I like savoury pies as well, Bacon & Egg pie, Steak & Mushroom pie and so on.

I'm not overly keen on the American pot pies though, I like my savoury pies made with puff pastry.

I also am rather partial to homemade lemon meringue pie. I haven't as yet been able to find a decent store made one. Most seem to have way to much meringue on top and it's not nice and crisp. As a result I prefer to make my own.

just emailed you the link to my Bacon & Egg pie recipe

lifeinredshoes said...

I make the same resolution every year, to conquer pie crust. So far, so bad. I remember when Oprah finished that whole trial thing in Texas over a comment she made about beef. She said the only thing that got her through was pie...and Jesus.

Kendra said...

I have family in and around Paducah, KY, which is down the road a bit from Patti's. My grandparents (Dad's parents) used to eat at Patti's frequently, but they've since moved out of the area. It's been awhile since I've been there, but I'll have to try the Sawdust Pie sometime!

I'm a total pie snob...other than a few exceptions, the only pies I'll really eat are my Granma's homemade pies. Just about any pie she makes, I'll eat.

There is an Amish restaurant in Evansville, Indiana called The Black Buggy ( that has some pretty good pies.

Trish said...

I cannot make a pie if my life would depend on it....but check this out....

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Sorry about the disappointing.

Yes! I've done my homework and I'm ready.

Rue said...

I love pie... all kinds of it :)

My very favorite is Mrs. Knott's Boysenberry Pie from Knott's Berry Farm (in CA) and I have the recipe, but I haven't seen boysenberries here. You can buy the pies in the frozen section almost everywhere, but it's not quite as good as the fresh ones we used to eat. Knott's made boysenberries up from loganberry, red raspberry and blackberry. You can read about it here:

They serve it with homemade vanilla ice cream too... yum!


DebraK from ~the Bunnies Bungalow~ said...

I'm not a pie baker but I'm always am willing to try.....again. Have you tried Martha Stewart's recipe for pie crust.....Pate Brisee, I think it's good, very flaky.
Hugs, DebraK

Kendrawolf said...

It looked yummy. What a disappointment!

Cottage Rose said...

It sounds like a very ambitious quest, and a yummy one. Most everyone likes my apple pie. But they my be just being kind. But I like it too, then again I like most pies. Home made is the best than store bought. Hope you find your #1 pie, and share with us what it is and where it came from.

Veggie Mom said...

Looks like I've found a fellow pie afficionado! My sister-in-law bakes yummy pies, and I blog all about her expertise. If you have a chance, please check out and, I'm a new blogger, and I'm running a Great Giveaway this week. Please drop in if you have a chance, OK, SITSta?

Suzanne said...

Suldog - I knew someone like that. You had to be very careful where you went because you'd never know who he would take on.

Julie - Homemade coconut cream is awesome. Yum.

Karen - I guess I don't often think of savory when I think about pie, but yes...I like that kind also. Thanks for the e-mail. Got it.

Red Shoes - My mom has a great pie crust recipe. I must convince her to share.

Kendra - Patti's is terrific. Have you been there at Christmas? I can't imagine how long it takes to put up all the decorations. It's insane. I'm adding the Buggy place to my list.

Trish - Oh yeah, I love hanging out with those Mennonite gals.

Vee - I'll see you in the morning. You've got some explaining to do.

Rue - I don't think I've ever had a boysenberry pie. That's amazing.

DebraK - I'm going to have to try Martha's pie crust if my mom won't part with her recipe.

Kendra - My son ate what I wouldn't!!!!

Alaura - I love a good apple pie. That's the all time comfort dessert.

Veggie Mom - I'll go over and see what your pie-baking sister has been up to.

Thanks everyone.'s late and I'm going to bed!!!!

- Suzanne

Jen@The Cottage Nest said...

Oh good gravy! Now I'm starving. I love me some pie. Being a Hoosier myself, I had high hopes when I clicked on that website but sadly there are none close to me. I had a wonderful pie at Epoch in Chicago a couple weeks ago. Lemon Merinque. I don't know how any other will ever compare to it.