Tag Archives: pie

What a waste it is to lose one’s mind

My surgery has been postponed indefinitely because there isn’t currently any donor tissue to use to reconstruct my ACL. In a weird twist to my attempts to “buy local,” I seem to be subject to an inaccessibility of allograft material, which is a localized issue. Apparently if we were still living in DC I would have had the surgery by now.

But not having the surgery just yet provides some unexpected benefits, like I’ve trimmed our Christmas tree, we can go ahead with a cookie exchange party, which will help us meet some new people, and I got to go to the annual holiday farmer’s market (the regular weekly market closed at the end of October and won’t reopen until April).

Still, it’s strange to think that I’m waiting, basically, for someone to pass away not so I can have their heart, but so I can go bowling again. It’s strangely offensive, or trite, or . . . something distasteful. That said, it is the best surgical option for me. And as I myself am an organ donor, I suppose I may pass something on, too. I just don’t have a response for people who try to make jokes about all of this (except maybe for the “buy local” one). Organ donation just isn’t funny. I mean, it’s kind of ridiculously unfunny.

So in the meantime, I bake. Baking, as we all know, sure can be funny. For Thanksgiving, I produced an apple pie, about two and a half dozen sweet potato biscuits, and a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. Thanks to my Mom, James Turner, and Junior’s bakery in Brooklyn, respectively, for the recipes.


Pumpkin swirl cheesecake

Pumpkin swirl cheesecake

The cheesecake, it should be noted, was not made without some trauma to me and the people in the room whilst it was being prepared. I was making the cake with my almost 12-year-old niece, Beth, when I was showing her my trick for cracking eggs. She asked, rightly so, if I wanted her to break the egg into the bowl or into something else, then putting that into the bowl. Because my egg-cracking tip minimizes the chance that broken shell will get into the recipe, I said it was fine to break it into the bowl.

Bad idea, Everett. Bad, bad idea. For while my 38 years of experience with store-bought eggs has so far produced wonderful incredible edibleness, this was about to go off the rails for me. She cracked and cracked the egg, and said, “it won’t open.” I took the egg from her, and in the nanosecond before I released the yolk, I saw the problem.

Humans, however, need something more than a nanosecond for their reflexes to kick in. I could only manage a slow-motion, “noooooooooo,” as I dropped it into $8 worth of cream cheese, vanilla, and whipping cream.

It was blood red. Worse, it had a half-inch large dead baby chick in it. And the redness of it against the pure white cream cheese mix made it only look more incredibly disgusting.

Suddenly there were people all crowding around the bowl trying to get a glimpse of the grotesque concoction. Kind of like when someone tastes something spoiled and screams and then begs you to taste it, too. Or like eating lunch in the Social Security Administration cafeteria. Kind of like that.

Susanne’s older brother, true to older brother form, suggested we just dump out the egg and continue on with the cake making. We did not of course, listen to him. This was made easier because of precedent–we are in the habit of not listening to his crazy man ideas. Instead I took a drive 12 miles to the grocery store and got more cream cheese, which was conveniently on sale. Then I wondered if the grocery store had some conspiracy to screw up people’s cheesecakes with fertilized chicken eggs so we would have to double our purchases of the cream cheese. Now that the Republicans are out of the White House, what will we do for conspiracy theories? Egg producers may take a lot of heat. 

This brings me to the mind-losing portion of this post. I was planning on the knee surgery on December 3, but lo and behold, as it is postponed indefinitely, I now have no calendar for anything — not rehab, not getting a job, not bowling — and so my sanity has begun to trickle away. Dear readers, hopefully it will not adversely affect this poor little blog too badly.

In the meantime, I snapped this apple pie picture shortly before the pie was no more. Enjoy.


Almost gone apple pie

Almost gone apple pie



Next up: Santa comes to Walla Walla.

Hidden treasures

So last Friday I turned in my intent to enter the pie contest at the food co-op. I was a bit surprised at what I saw. Back when I lived in Syracuse, the co-op was nestled in a residential area in an old green arts and crafts-era neighborhood. It wasn’t enormous, certainly not the size of a supermarket, but it had about 1,000 square feet of space, and carried groceries, dairy, fresh made tofu, floating in a plastic container like edible styrofoam, and all manner of non-perishables and even some cleaning supplies, which is where I first learned the All One Insanity of Dr. Bronner. You could go insane (or blind) just trying to read the labels on that stuff. I volunteered there a few hours a month, not much, but really enjoyed my local milk in glass bottles. That was a splurge for me, though, so I only got the milk maybe once a month. So much for my graduate stipend. I still don’t know how I lived on $700 monthly checks.

Fast forward to 2008 and the Walla Walla co-op has just opened at a physical location. There is a front room in a converted house, across from a now-defunct grocery store, and they carry about as much as anyone could pack into 250 sq. ft. of space. So these people need some fundraising! At $5 for pie and $2.50 for senior citizens, they’re gonna need a lot more pie contests to make it work. Unless there’s other fundraising. I mean, of course there’s other fundraising. Their money making enterprises can’t be:

1. Annual Pie Contest

2. Bake Sale

3. Wet T-Shirt Contest

4. NEW Monthly Pie Contest

At any rate, dropping of my pies, which each seemed to weigh about 15 pounds (I think it was the 6 sweet potatoes that I had mashed up into them), I guessed that the contest was a lot more about building community than raising money.


one of the sweet potato pies

one of the sweet potato pies

It was in the assisted living center portion of a grand Oddfellows House. At this point, I hear “Oddfellows” and I think buried scrolls and gold ala Nicholas Cage in National Treasure. Poor Masons. I wonder what George Mason himself would have made of that awful flick.

Anyway, these people are decked out. It was like MTV’s Pimp My Ride did a special there one day, because the walkers and the scooters everyone was using were swanky. I think one of them might have been an amphibious vehicle to boot. Several residents saw me huffing my way through the building — I can only image what I must have looked like, a bit fat guy with two heavy, sticky pies on each hand, waiting for the elevator. I invited a few curious folks to come to the contest. The administrators of the building pumped in swing music the whole time, and I thought that if these folks were like my father, they probably enjoyed the tunes. It was, actually, the happiest assisted living center I’ve ever seen.

Something like 20 pies were in the contest. Three or four apple pies, cherry pie, banana-coffee pie (affectionately named “Banaoffee,” which I turned over again and again in my brain, trying to figure out what language it was in), citrus pie, individually peeled concord grape pie, apple-raspberry pie, and many others. By the time the contest opened to the public, the judges had already made their selection, which, we were informed, used a point system and was “very impressive.”


pie contest volunteers

pie contest volunteers

 I walked in at the same time as a woman who I met in September at the HIV fundraiser. That woman is a fantastic cook. Thus the pies she was carrying in with her daughter I figured would be very good indeed. Turns out her 13-year-old made the pies, which were citrus pies.

She said she was upset because it was supposed to be a lemon pie, but they hadn’t had enough lemons, so she had to use lime and orange as well.

“Well, sometimes those changes make your pie come out even better,” I said.

“That’s what I told her,” said her mother.

I put down my pies and saw the table sag ever so slightly under their weight. I was then marked as Pie #2. The citrus pie was Pie #3. I left and went back home (less than a block away), and waited for the judges to do their thing. Some friends who were visiting us that weekend walked over with us to enjoy some pie. We were allowed to taste from 5 pies, which made quite a pile of confection on our paper plates. I should have strategized with Susanne so we got a wider variety of pie, but we all ran off like bugs to the light, looking at pie after pie.  We sat back down with our selections and waited about an hour to hear the results. We also could vote for “the people’s favorite,” so I went for the citrus pie, which was in fact very tasty.

The winners this year were:

First Place: Peach Custard Pie (darn! that’s the pie I was thinking about making before I decided on sweet potato pie)

Second Place: Marionberry Pie (DC readers of this blog may find such a thing suspicious, as it calls into question whether there was any cocaine in the pie)

Third Place: Apple Raspberry Pie

So, this intrepid pie-baker lives to fight another day. And the nice part is, the girl won for people’s choice with her very tasty citrus pie. It was also nice to see some friends at the event, all stuffing ourselves on pie. As in the picture below.


Pie eaters

Pie eaters

Clearly, Susanne is pissed we didn’t win!

Pie’s rules of order

So concerned was I that my pie wouldn’t be allowed under the rules of the Daily Market’s second annual pie contest that I emailed the contest organizers with my question. My email was forwarded to the grand poobah of the pies, apparently, as follows:

Hi Robynne,
Do sweet potatoes qualify as a fruit?

P.S. We had a cat named Sweet Potato Pie when I was a kid because my 
sister and I couldn't decide what to call it and the neighbors suggested 
Sweet Potato Pie. But I've never tried the pie and I'd love to!

I seem to have hit a sweet spot with my choice of pie, pun intended. I mean, she’d love to try it? It reminds her of her childhood cat? Who’da thunk it?

But I didn’t want to get too excited. Perhaps I’d have to switch up to an apple pie after all. I’d have to wait for a response from Robynne. On a side note, are there like, 39 ways to spell Robin or what? There are almost more than for Catherine.

Fortunately for me, Robynne responded quickly. 

I think sweet potato pie is fine. basically we wanted to stay away from
cream pies. I love sweet potato pie and it's Obama's favorite so it's

Now with this response, I wasn’t as sure what to think. I mean, clearly she loves that Obama was elected? Should his favorite pie mean that it will be her favorite pie? Now that I think of it, through this whole long entire primary and general campaign season, I think the one tidbit I hadn’t discerned in all of the interviews, debate watching, articles, talking heads, and conversation with friends, was Obama’s favorite pie. Where on earth did she learn this little factoid?

Susanne, for her part, is fact-checking the pie preference of our President-elect. Googling Obama’s favorite pie, she found that his favorite is in fact:

PECAN PIE. This because he asked an aide for it to go for his usual dinner of salmon, broccoli, and brown rice. According to his daughters, he’s not a big fan of the sweet, but instead prefers pumpkin pie. Either way, pecan pie sounds just awful after a salmon dinner. To me, anyway.

So where has this idea that sweet potato pie is his favorite? I will ask the Robynne character when I see her.

UPDATE: Susanne found the reference. In a stump speech on October 18 in St. Louis, Obama said his favorite pie is sweet potato pie. His second favorite is pecan pie. You heard it here . . . not first, probably.

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