Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pie Smackdown

This blog thing started out innocent enough for us.  Post a few pictures of what we've been up to to keep the family informed, keep a journal for ourselves, etc.  What I didn't know is that I would really start to enjoy reading other people's blogs, too, but that reading them would get me in trouble.  Back in November*, SkiBikeJunkie was bragging about how fantastic his wife's pies were on his blog, and in a moment of foolishness, I challenged her to a pie-baking duel. It was an offhand comment, but a small blogging circle picked up on it, and before I knew it, we had a flavor (pecan), date (P-day), and time set up for the pie contest, complete with neutral judges UtRider, Blackdog, and Watcher, only one of whom I had met before.  I knew that Rachel was a good cook from browsing her blog and from tasting her amazing brownies at a Revolution team party.  This would be a challenge!

* Isn't November national pie month or something?

Between November and P-day, I practiced my pie making with at least eight pies.  I was having trouble with the crust getting too tough and, in one instance, down-right crunchy.  I finally realized it was the butter-flavored Crisco* I had been partially substituting into an all-butter recipe for flakiness.  Once I switched to about 2/3 butter and 1/3 regular Crisco**, the crust came out perfectly.  On P-day, I left the pies in the oven just a tad too long so the crust was over-browned, but it was still delish.

*In most food I make, I strive for all-natural ingredients.  Hydrogenated vegetable oil, a.k.a. Crisco, is by no means all-natural, but it makes a darn flaky pie crust that is easy to roll out.  Unless you are eating eight pies in two months, it probably won't kill ya.

** My Mom, maker of fantastic pies for decades, uses lard, real lard, like from a pig.  The lard sold in grocery stores these days is mostly hydrogenated oil packaged as lard.  I have shopped around for real lard at two health food stores, but they shooed me away, probably because lard isn't exactly a health food.  I never got to a butcher shop, and just settled for Crisco.

Watcher and his wife were kind enough to host the event - neutral turf and all.  They also understood the importance of ice cream and coffee to a true pie-eating experience.

The pies arrived.  Rachel's (two on the left) were clearly prettier than mine, but how would they taste?

We served


They ate

and ate! Almost all four pies were devoured.


But in the end, my pecan pie was judged to be just a tiny bit more to these particular judges' tastes, so I took home the crown and Rachel got a squeaky horn.  However, Rachel's pie was more to the liking of the special Youth Judging Panel, and since Rachel has to feed her children, it is probably a good thing that they love her food.

What a fun night eating pie with new fun people.  Drew was definitely glad he could participate as an eater, even though he was disqualified from judging because he might have voted for my pie (that is, if he ever wanted me to make more).
For an impartial account of the contest, written by Watcher (whose blog, by the way, is always chock-full of way awesome posts about the natural world in Utah), surf to here, where you will find a full explanation of this picture.


  1. congrats o my queen! I never knew about modern lard being mostly hydrogenated stuff masquerading as actual pig fat. Humph. No wonder they don't refridgerate it at the grocery! I am appalled. And I thought I was being all old-fashioned and pioneerish. Guess I will use good-ole 50's flavored crisco now!
    I love your blog :)

  2. So, if I come for a visit, will you make pie :)? I am going to be in SLC for an art conference May 13-16. I might be able to extend the trip by a day or two so I can do a little more genealogy research if I had a place to stay.... Are you guys around during that time?