Food Friday: Pie Day

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Winter is winding down, or so they say. Though I see there is snow in Friday’s forecast, and the weekend temperatures are supposed to plunge. The long range forecast says spring. Let’s heat up the kitchen another couple of times while we wait for spring to come peeking around the corner, and let’s get ready to celebrate Pi Day. http://www.piday.org/

Pi Day is March 14, and it celebrates the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14159. (Pi Day = 3/14 in the month/date format.) I have a friend, a former math major, who does not count sheep when she has trouble sleeping. Instead, she calculates π digits. The infinite number amuses her and lulls her to sleep, but if I could hold all those numbers in my head there wouldn’t be room for Joni Mitchell song lyrics or English murder mystery plot points.

Instead of whipping out our iPhones and finding the calculator app, let us celebrate another aspect of Pi Day, and bake some pies. March 14 is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, so you can kick up your heels doubly. And you can rejoice that Pi Day rolls around every year, whereas Square Root day won’t happen again until May 5, 2025. (According to Wikipedia, Square Root day is celebrated on days when “both the day of the month and the month are the square root of the last two digits of the year.” I kid you not.)

Sweet or savory, there are pies for just about every appetite, and every level of skill. It is easy to pour chocolate pudding into a store-bought graham cracker crust and slather it with clouds of whipped cream. More complicated are lattice-work pies, which require forethought, and dexterity, and a good hand at pastry. You can be Sweeny Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, and make a name for yourself with meat pies. Or you can be James Taylor, and sing an ode to your own Sweet Potato Pie.

My favorite pie is chicken pot pie. I do a variation on Martha’s – but I buy the pie crust already made. Which is probably why I have never calculated pi since leaving school – I am always looking for an easy way out. http://www.marthastewart.com/891257/classic-chicken-potpie Easy as pie, my foot. I can’t roll out a perfect circle, but those wily folks at Pillsbury can. And no one is the wiser. Mr. Friday would never notice if I toiled with butter and flour and sharp knives to make a homemade crust. Martha might, but so far our parallel universes haven’t come close to colliding. My secret is safe…

I also like a nice Key Lime pie. I always use the recipe on the bottle of Key Lime juice, but this is pretty close: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014850-key-lime-pie It is lovely for Easter, when you don’t want to make a huge and vastly expensive cheesecake, and almost anything with whipped cream is a delight. You don’t have to wait for summer to have a little taste of the Keys. You could welcome Pi Day with a fluffy, mile-high Key Lime pie.

We managed to let George Washington’s birthday get away from us without the ritual and apocryphal cherry pie. What were we thinking? Unless you have Martha’s (Stewart – not Washington!) year-round access to fresh cherries, you will have to use frozen like the rest of us. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/traditional-cherry-pie-232579

If spring is coming, can rhubarb be far behind? http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/deep-dish-strawberry-rhubarb-pie

And to hit all the relevant holiday notes – St. Patrick’s Day is next week. Maybe you should be preparing a beer-infused Guinness Chocolate Cream Pie. All of the sweet decadence of whipped cream, combined with dark chocolate and darker beer. Swoon-worthy. Thanks again, Food52 for setting the bar (and the beer) high! https://food52.com/recipes/20120-guinness-chocolate-cream-pie

We do a Boston Cream pie for birthdays here. It might not have the celebratory gusto of a pie topped with whipped cream, but the combination of the shiny chocolate ganache and thick custard filling is surprisingly festive. A heady combination of pie and cake, with candles. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/boston-cream-pie-recipe Albert Einstein would have loved our Boston Cream Pies.

A place in London I would like to visit, and not for the food, is Eel Pie Island. Can you imagine? Henry VIII was overly fond of the eponymous eel pies, but I think I would visit just to see the artists’ studios. Doubtless none of them has though much about pi since school, either. http://www.messynessychic.com/2014/08/21/the-tiny-island-on-the-thames-that-once-held-the-rolling-stones-david-bowie-and-the-uks-largest-hippie-commune/

Happy Spring – it’s coming!

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jamestaylor/sweetpotatopie.html

“I went to sit in the bus station and think this over. I ate another apple pie and ice cream; that’s
practically all I ate all the way across the country, I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of
course.”
― Jack Kerouac

About Jean Sanders

Letters to Editor

  1. Jim Harris says:

    This is an especially good Pi day as the rounded version of Pi is 3.1416! My birthday.

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