“United States of Pie: Regional Favorites from East to West and North to South”
By Adrienne Kane; Ecco, 226 pages
Now that autumn is upon us, I find myself craving pie. Don't get me wrong. I love pie all year long, but something about stormy weather (like this past weekend — hello!), the smell of wet leaves, all the yummy flavors of pumpkin and caramel showing up on coffee shop menus, yeah, I start thinking about pie. Pie for dessert, pie for breakfast, pie for when I'm happy, pie for when I'm cranky — well, you get the picture. Pie does a body good.
If you happen to be a cracker-jack baker of pies, I salute you. I find the process of putting together a homemade pie supremely satisfying, and a bit daunting at the same time. My pies taste good — they just don't always look pretty. In fact, with all of the patching I usually have to do with my pie dough, my pies tend to take on a Frankenstein appearance. But, according to my husband, that's OK.
Also, my pie repertoire is limited: apple, blackberry, and, um, apple. Knowing that practice makes perfect, my repertoire and technique can only be improved if I keep making pies, so that's why I turned to "United States of Pie." Why this title? Well, it's all about pie and nothing but pie, so that's a good start. But I also like the author's background. The author blurb on the back of the book describes Adrienne Kane as a "food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer." She loves food, and she also understands that for most of us average home cooks out there, recipes need to be easy to follow and not too fancy.
French pastry chefs we are not, thank you very much.
Full of down-home, classic pie recipes from all regions of the United States, Kane has gathered a yummy collection of pie goodness. From how to make the perfect crust (that's the chapter for me) to how to roll out and whip up shoofly pie and tar heel pie (yep, these are real pies), I'm pretty sure many of us can find a pie recipe that reminds us of childhood days spent in the warm, apple pie comfort of grandma's kitchen.
So, the next time you decide to have a piece of pie, instead of relying on Marie Callender to do your baking, think about wielding a rolling pin yourself. And try not to stress too much about calories.
I think this quote, found in the front of "United States of Pie," is good advice: "Pie is swell food. I eat scads of it. I have a good complexion and marvelous digestion. I always tell people who say pie gives them indigestion to try eating pie first and the rest of the meal last." -- Monroe Boston Strause, "Pie King," December 1937.
Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.