Monday, September 8, 2008

If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked a . . .

I’m usually a very good cook—whatever I set out to make usually turns out pretty yummy.

(O.K., let’s not talk about the ribs I absolutely scorched on the grill when B and I were first married. So bad were they that our guests couldn’t even eat them. I’ve since learned how to cook ribs and made a most successful batch just a couple of weeks ago.)

I can bake. I can braise. I can even butterfly.

But there’s one area of my cooking that has been sorely lacking. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to make a good pie.

I’m an optimist though, and so, about once a year, usually around blueberry or peach season, I attempt to make a pie. From scratch.

I’m not talking pumpkin and pecan pies at Thanksgiving time—just-roll-out-the-Pillsbury-pie-crust-dump-in-the-filling-and-you’re-done kind of pie. I can do that. Heck, anybody can do that.

No, I’m talking a fruit pie made with homemade crust. Something always goes wrong, and that something is usually that my pie is either underdone and soggy, or (and this is more often the case) it’s runny. Basically fruit and juice. When you cut into my pie you get pie juice everywhere and then the top caves in and the whole thing is a mess. Yuck.

I’ve never been able to make one of those mile-high, tender-on-the-inside-crisp-on-the-outside kind of pies.

Until two weeks ago.

It’s peach season here in Illinois. Well, to be more accurate, it’s peach season in Michigan and our local Saturday morning market was filled with delicious peaches. So, optimistic me, I bought two boxes of peaches thinking I would try to make a pie.

I started with Ina Garten’s pie crust recipe. I love Ina. Everything she makes turns out wonderfully, and aesthetically beautiful, so her pie crust surely must be good.

Then I just googled “Peach Pie” and looked for a recipe for filling that seemed reasonable. I took the first one on the list.

That night, when the time came to have dessert, I was a little nervous. Even B admitted that I was “pie challenged.” Nice, huh? The sad thing is, he’s right. I’d never win a pie-baking contest, that’s for sure.

I think it’s God’s way of keeping me humble.

So, with great trepidation, I cut into the pie and, miracle of miracles, it did not run. Anywhere. It held together! And the crust was actually crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. Oh, heavenly pie-bliss.

I wanted to run outside and shout it in the streets, but I didn’t because that would be even more embarrassing than runny pie or charred ribs.

Instead, I’ll just show you a picture of what I made. And, yes, it did taste as good as it looked.

So, today, feeling my wild oats, I thought I’d try it again. I guess I wanted to see if lightning does indeed strike in the same place twice.

I’m here to tell you, it does not.

Here’s a picture of what I did today. Burned because I forgot to turn down the oven after the first 15 minutes.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m sad. (And duly humbled, God.)

But I’m not a quitter, and I will try again. And again. And again. Until I get it right. (Sorry, B!)

Because I love pie.


  1. I found your blog as I was moseying around...very cute. And your pie turned out better than mine ever would. I totally cheat and use those freezer crusts because mine would never turn out right! :)

  2. Oh, Shelly, that's happened to me, too, more often than I'd like to admit.'s usually when we're having company, to keep me doubly humbled!

    My apple pie recipe is a bit liquidy inside; do NOT forget the flour if you try it cause then it'll be a mess!

    Good luck!!! I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN!! :)