Spring Pie

I am a fancy pie baker. Which most people dont know. It’s actually a more recent development, as for a time I didnt realize my ability and it went unnoticed. And it wasnt because I didnt love pies, it was more that the thought of slaving over ingredients for three hours to create a beautiful dessert that would no doubt be gone in seconds and leave a sticky mess behind, made me feel tired.

I actually wasnt much of a cook either until a couple years ago. (Well that’s not entirely true… I had mastered a nightly routine of combining Campbell’s Minestrone Soup, Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice and Kraft Parmesan Cheese into a perfect soupy, processed wonder…see recipe below). But when it came to baking, pies always looked like a lot of work. So I simply focused on developing my skill in eating others’ handmade creations instead of working on my own. Until last spring, when Daniel and I went to film a young, farming family in Pine City, Minnesota: Enter Jen and Chuck Peterson of Duskwind Farm.

We were heading to the Peterson’s to film the birth (and subsequent castration) of their impending litter of lambs. What we didnt expect was for me to leave the farm an overnight master pie baker — and Daniel, the luckiest guy alive. (And If we’re going to be completely honest, we also didnt expect Daniel to decide to chase down and kill a wild guinea hen — upon which I handed the camera to the farmer and proceeded to cry behind the barn). But here’s how it happened: after arriving at the lovely farm, Chuck whisked Daniel away to start killing things, and Jen quickly ushered me into the kitchen and explained that we were going to be making blueberry rhubarb pie, and that I was going to love it.

And she wasnt kidding. Two sticks of butter later, I was in love. Here’s the thing: Jen is an amazing baker and an incredible teacher because she gets you excited about about every step of the process: Breaking the butter to pieces between my fingers, kneading the dough until it’s just right, latticing the sh#$ out of that crust… It was wonderful, and so much easier than I had expected. Since then, I’ve been slinging pies like its my job (or, rather, I made a lot of pies at first, and then stopped). But the point of this story is that I made a pie the other day.

Jen and Chuck have since become our good friends. And they remain, to this day, two of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Every time we see them, they’re giving us something from their farm (whether it’s fresh milk, bags of garlic, homemade beer, or camping equipment). And on their most recent visit, Jen brought a collection of strawberries and blueberries that she had picked fresh last season and froze over the winter. And i figured, what better way to use them, than in a pie recipe she had taught me.

So, on Saturday, my friend Jane and I made a pie in honor of spring. It was beautiful and delicious, and would have been perfect if only we had added enough sugar. [See the PIE RECIPE here.]

In other RECIPE news, as promised…The Perfect Soupy Processed Wonder:

  • 1 can Campbells Minestrone Soup
  • 2 cups Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice
  • 2 cups Kraft Parmesan Cheese

Add water to solidified, mushy soup can contents. Heat at high temperature on stovetop until simmering. At the same time cook minute rice as directed on side of box (should take one minute…or a matter of minutes, based on the name of product). Remove plastic twist top of green parmesan cheese container and peel off the protective plastic seal. Replace twist top and shake can to ensure contents aren’t stuck together at bottom of container.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated “cheese” over heated soup, stirring occasionally. With a giant spoon, eat the “vegetable” components out of the soup. Once only the orange broth remains, add rice and another 1/4 cup of “cheese”. With the same spoon, eat all the rice out. Now only a little bit of liquid should be remaining. Tip bowl over and drink the rest of the soup.