When we were first going through a separation, my ex-husband once postulated in a fit of anger and frustration that my life was just a series of obsessions: throughout the entirety of our marriage, once I’d gotten my fill of some new hobby or person or TV show, I moved on to something new. He counted our two daughters and himself among them. He was grossly wrong about the girls and, except for only the most uncharitable interpretations, wrong about himself. He was right about a lot of other things that I’ve become obsessed with and then discarded though, including:
- befriending new transplants and lonely people at volleyball
- an online stick figure MMORPG
- listening to and watching baseball games with the radio turned up and the television turned down while scoring the game
- wedding-related message boards turned married-lady-related message boards turned mommy-related message boards
- anything Joss Whedon
- sampling a new microbrew or two every night (any more than that will get me indecently trashed)
I don’t find it particularly abnormal for interests to come and go.
However, two things that have stayed unwaveringly in my life are pies and books. And maybe nobody gives a shit about how I read or what I read or what I think about what I read, or maybe they do. Either way, there are a bajillion book review blogs and not nearly enough pie blogs. Rather than further saturate a milieu where not only a Top 10 but also a Top 100 list dating back to 2009 exists, I choose to blog about pie. Occasionally I may dabble into books via some clumsy and overwrought metaphor, or maybe just abandon the metaphor effort altogether when I realize I suck at it, but primarily (pie-marily) (don’t hit me), I will write about pie and all things tenuously related to pie.
Back in 2007, at the start of my Cooks Illustrated obsession, two recipes in the November-December issue caught my eye: foolproof pie dough and cranberry-apple pie. It was the “foolproof” that really piqued my attention though, because “foolproof” always strikes me as a challenge. I’m not saying I’m incompetent in the kitchen. In fact, I consider myself fairly competent, if you ignore the various knife and burn scars on my hands. But “foolproof” just triggers the contrarian sort of instinct that keeps me employed as a quality assurance engineer. I want to break your shit and I want to figure out why it was breakable. Plus, every crust I’d attempted to make from scratch up until that point resulted in some kind of mess I was unwilling to serve to people I cared about.
Doubting what Cooks Illustrated was touting as a crust that was quick and simple to make and easy to roll out, I tested their recipes out on Thanksgiving that year. True to their word, it was the most successful crust I’d ever made and the loveliest pie I’d ever served where I hadn’t used the convenience of any ready-made ingredients or pie parts critical to structural integrity. From that point, I was hooked on pie. I did encounter some minor pitfalls and will blog about crusts, since crust is the number one complaint I hear when I get involved in pie discussions. But I became so enamored with that pie pastry recipe that I have never used another recipe with the hundred or so pies I’ve made since.
For Christmas that same year, I was given Ken Haedrich’s book, Pie (only one month elapsing between the discovery of the Foolproof Pie Dough recipe and a need to start hoarding pie resources should indicate how quickly my obsession set in), in which Haedrich says in his introduction,
“Pie, in a word, is my passion. Since as far back as I can remember, watching my mom and dad make their apple pies together every fall as a young boy, I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important. To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place.”
This sentiment resonated with me and solidified pie as my passion from that point on as well. Out of town guests are invariably treated to a homemade pie. I bring pie to social gatherings when appropriate. I even brought a slice of pie for my now-fiancé on our first date. Clearly I love pie. And since I feel there are some common misconceptions and pitfalls to piemaking as well as some interesting lessons to be learned, I felt a pie blog would be an appropriate place to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.
As for the name of the blog, I had the following conversation with a colleague of mine (some paraphrasing done for the sake of anonymity):
Me: We need to incorporate more pie charts with our software because pie is awesome.
Him: No. Pie is awesome, but pie charts suck.
Me: PIE CHARTS ARE AMAZING.
Him: Only two other team members agree with you. What does this say to you?
Me: That we’re pie-oneers, ahead of our time.
Him: OMG. You need to die.
With such an amazing reaction to such a terrible pun, I obviously had to preserve it for all time. Do I actually consider myself a pioneer? I am in part summoning pie aficionados and in part devoting more thought to pie than normal people may find healthy, so perhaps in some abstract sense. But mostly, it’s like the pun itself: pie-centric, kind of an asshole, and out to make you think and giggle a little.