My weekends of late have been spent engaging in culinary pursuits, as most workdays I’m too unmotivated to do anything that involves massive amounts of effort.  Chopping is about the best I can do, Monday-Friday.

A slice of chess pie is a blurry, sweet monolith on the table.

Lately, I’ve been teaching myself to bake, particularly pies. Baking’s a good thing for me to do, as it requires discipline and following the recipe in correct proportions; usually when I cook, I’m fairly cavalier about the whole thing, tossing in this and that.  Partially, I’ve been inspired by reading Pascale Le Draoulec’s book American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads.  It’s fascinating from three angles–Le Draoulec’s life and how she interacts; the stories of the people she meets because of pie; and the pies themselves.

Of course, I’m not nearly as dedicated to the cause to make my own crust, yet, mostly out of fear of buggering it up.  I do use the kind that comes in rolls, not that which is already in a tin (see below stories for details).  However, I have tried various types of pies, all of which have come out successful.  So far.

  1. Lemon meringue pie.  I first made this earlier in the summer, when Mom spotted it in one of the grocery store advertisements.  I said I could do better for less money, which is probably true.  That time, I had used a frozen crust in a throwaway tin and basically broke the pie taking it out of the oven, though it still tasted good.  This time, it didn’t break at all.  The only problem was that I hadn’t grated the peel finely enough, but that’s an issue with the grater we have (the fine holes are too fine for rind).
  2. Chess pie.  My family is distinctly and utterly Northern, and so we’d never even smelled this kind of pie, though read about it.  It was, to be honest, fantastic, rich and very sweet.  I would say make it with the meringue, even if you don’t like it, or use whipped cream, just as an offset.  Ethan Becker describes chess pie as ‘pecan pie without the pecans’, which should give you some idea. 
  3. Apple pie.  Dear god, I never realised what a pain in the tail peeling apples is, as I’d never done it before.  Now I know how, which is good, but it took me 30-40 minutes to do five apples into bakable slices.  I do encourage one to use Golden Delicious or some other mid-firmness tart apple, as I heard to do, as it held up really well even after several days.
  4. Pecan pie.  Wanted to compare this to chess pie, and while it was good, my opinion of it was slightly coloured by the fact that I was Stupid and burned myself while blind baking the crust, and therefore was in a mood for the whole thing.  Not to mention that Mom took it out of the oven earlier than I would have.  Still, very good.  I do it with dark corn syrup and light brown sugar, which is caramelly enough but not too ridiculously rich.  (That, and it was what we had on hand, as I am Cheap.)
  5. Microwave butterscotch pie.  This recipe was acquired by Le Draoulec while she was on the road, and it was, indeed, fairly easy.  However, I daresay it got a little stiff over a few days and wasn’t nearly as butterscotch flavoured as I would have liked.  I think this weekend I may try the Joy of Cooking butterscotch cream version, though my brother doesn’t like butterscotch much.  We shall see.

Of course, the whole feminist reclaimation aspect of baking is something I’ve been taking into consideration.  How domestic can one be, after all?  Never mind that I eat as much pie as I make…screw salads. 

That’s where I stand on pies, at the moment.  Too chicken to make my own crust, yet addicted to the richness of bakery, a la Weebl and Bob.  If anyone who reads this has any suggestions as to types of pie (make sure the fruit’s not ridiculously out of season), please let me know.

EDIT: By the way?  The beginning of this sounds far more pretentious than I meant it to.  Still not used to writing essays that aren’t in acaspeak, I guess.  (almost put ‘suppose’ there.  please forgive.  and the British spellings, too.)