Slice of life


Peach custard pie

Peach custard pie



I was made aware this evening of an upcoming pie contest to raise money for our local food cooperative. It didn’t take long for my mind to start hypothesizing pie contents that would be sure-fire champions. After five minutes of dedicated thinking, I realized a few things:

1. I guess I’m going to enter the contest — let’s just say the universe seems to have decided this for me, since it was a done deal the second I heard the contest existed.

2. I have no idea how to strategize my approach to pie baking for the purposes of winning a contest.

3. It shouldn’t be about the winning. It should be about the baking and the fundraising and the community spirit.

4. Oh heck, of course it’s about the winning! Just for bragging rights.

5. Oh crap, I think I’m a carpetbagger. Thinking I can roll into town and twelve weeks later, walk away with pie baking bragging rights as if nobody else in town knows how to bake a pie.

And then I went to making dinner, a faux chicken Kiev dish consisting of pounded chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and broccoli, garlic bread, and spiced lentils for a side because I made 67 cups accidentally last Friday and I have just got to find a way to use them up. For being half-Lebanese I have no insight into making lentils interesting to eat.

As I made dinner, pounding the chicken hard enough that the windows rattled in the room next to me, I mused the pie possibilities. Old-fashioned apple pie. Simple to make and I do it well, but wouldn’t the judges’ expectations be too high for it to be impressive? Apple pie with my mother’s crumble top. Always a hit, but again, perhaps too generic. Granola pie. Definitely out-of-the-box thinking, but I might not want to make something with corn syrup if it’s for a food co-op. And would a “granola” pie be offensive to people usually referred to as “crunchy?” It’s one thing not to win a contest, I reckoned, but it’s another to alienate people! This is a small town, after all! I mean, of course it’s small, it hosts a PIE CONTEST.

Okay, so maybe I should go for a pie that is unexpected but not ridiculous in any way. Something rather old-fashioned, something that I could expect nobody else would make. And since it’s fall, berry pies are probably out. Perhaps a pumpkin custard pie with a meringue top. Or a brown sugar and grits pie. But maybe that’s too southern for them. For me, small town = The South, even though I know the only “southeast” around here is our location in the state. Susanne wondered if the local stores even sold grits. I can’t imagine a grocery store not stocking grits — it’s just a poor man’s polenta, I told her. But she may have a point, and now I have to check the next time I drop by. I’ve got a week to decide on a pie — actually two pies, since you have to make it twice.

I wonder if getting excited about a pie contest means I’m acclimating to my new environment, or if I’m just bored out of my skull and looking for just about anything to do. I still haven’t joined a band, for instance, and everyone and their brother is in a band here, with all manner of names like “Trixie and the Catnips,” or some such. So if I’ve held off that demon, perhaps a pie contest is no big deal.

Where else could you get 5 slices of pie for $5? That’s exciting all on its own merits.

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3 Comments on “Slice of life”

  1. Ami
    November 7, 2008 at 12:38 am #

    Important information! Last year’s winners!!!
    Thanks for a great 1st Annual Pie Contest!
    Thank You to all the Bakers and Tasters of the First Annual Pie Contest
    Congratulations to the contest winners!

    * 1st Place: Brenda Vorhauer*, Walnut Pie (Brenda won a Charter Co-op Membership valued at $150.00)
    * 2nd Place: Scottie Burton, Onion Pie
    * 3rd Place: Robynne Snow, Organic Grape Pie
    * Runners up: Marisol Beck, Apple Pie, and Sue Parrish, Marionberry Pie

  2. evmaroon
    November 7, 2008 at 12:44 am #

    Oh, thanks, Ami, for posting that, and I’m glad you support my endeavor in the pie realm. We have supper guests tomorrow, so I’ll test out a pie with them and see if it’s champion-quality.

  3. Donna
    November 14, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    Do any of the stores in Walla Walla sell grits? Oddly enough one of the Jewish delis in Baltimore and one of the gov’t cafeterias in DC offer prepared grits. Who knew?
    Good luck on the contest.

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