Let me be the first to wish you a Happy National Pie Day! Who knew? The American Pie Council (nothing to do silly song lyrics or naughty boy movies) designates January 23 for this auspicious occasion to help in "preserving America's pie heritage and promoting American's love affair with pies". Their aim is to "raise awareness, enjoyment and consumption of pies". Heck, I'm there.
What, you say? Is The Garden Buzz going all foodie? Occasionally. In this case, I don't think it's that far from the pie pan to the garden, or vice versa. Name a pie that doesn't need produce to produce its filling. Cherry, berry, or kumquats, it all starts in the dirt. Chocolate cream? Little cocoa groves in West Africa. Rum raisin? Vineyards and cane fields. Chess pie? Maybe you got me there, but I like mine with a little lemon zest.
And lest we forget. Bees make pies. Every bite is just buzzing with bee-power. Without pollination, what could we look forward to; wheat pie, corn pie?
I love pie. I love how it is all contained in a crust, sort of like the perfect packaging of an egg. I love making pies; the fluting of the crust, paring apples, peeling peaches, or whisking the filling in a big bowl, and finally the finished piece. I love how it looks in the kitchen, the ultimate symbol of domesticity. I love slicing it in eight perfect portions and feeding it to people to watch them swoon. If I had one of those wide windowsills like in the cartoons, I would make pies just to see them sit there.
I remember some pies better than people; that purple raspberry/rhubarb/custard from last year that still elicits sighs and haunts us with its elusive qualities, the sweet-tart gooseberry pie at Kansas family reunions, the sweet potato pie when I grew my own, the dainty lemon meringue my mother-in-law makes. Yet my mom never made proper pies, but rather these messy, misshapen fried apricot pies, greasy and good, eaten with your hands, and even better cold.
Any day with pie would be a little bit happier. But here's a pie to honor the spirit of the American Pie Council's special day. It was inspired by the pear tree that grew by our old limestone house in Kansas. It provided shade, honey-scented blossoms and voluminous quantities of lumpy little green pears every other year. I miss it, now, every year.
Pear Tree Pie
Use your favorite crust recipe or buy a ready-made frozen one, I wont' tell, it's only for the bottom.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6-8 Bartlett Pears (or whatever kind is available) peeled and sliced
3 T. Lemon juice
1/2 C. Sugar
2 T. Flour
1-2 T. Chopped crystallized ginger (this is what makes it good, I think more is better)
Combine fruit and other ingredients in a bowl, then spoon into pie crust. Sprinkle with crumble topping.
1/2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 t. ginger and 1/2 t. cinnamon and 1/4 t. nutmeg
You can add oats or chopped nuts for more flavor
Combine and then cut in 1/4 C. Butter
Bake in oven for about 45 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.
PS: You can double this recipe in a 9X13 baking dish without a crust for a delicious fruit crumble, but then that wouldn't be pie. SHHH..Don't tell the pie council.