From the Blog

Pie! Pie! Pie!

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This past weekend, I went to a Pie n’ Pints Party. Pie is as good a reason as any to throw a party. In fact, pie is a better reason than any to throw a party. If you are having a party and there is no pie, well, maybe you should rethink your party throwing strategy.

I like all kinds of pie, but if I am going to *make* a pie, (in non-apple season), I make pork pies. Pork pies are something my mom made when I was a kid. I think they are probably more common in New England and in the Frenchy parts of Canada. I have seen that French Canadian pork pie has cloves, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and other sweet spices. There’s a British version also, which are served cold and eaten at picnics with ketchup. Brits are weird. I remember our pie was made with Bell’s Seasoning, which is hard to get outside the Yankee states.

I’m always happy to have a reason to make a pork pie, and I figured that it would be among the more unconventional pies at the pie party. I didn’t know this until later, but there was actually going to be a contest, which got my competitive little tush all aflutter. I’m fairly certain there are only a few things quite as tasty as pork pie.

So I made a couple big, fat, huge pies. Here’s how they go:

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 medium onion
2 or 3 medium potatoes (more if you want an “overstuffed” pie)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons of Bell’s Seasoning. You’re probably going to have a hard time finding Bell’s Seasoning. I’ve learned that the spices are thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, pepper and a little bit of ginger. I went way light on the ginger because it just felt odd to me.

Top and bottom pie crusts. Yes, I used goddamned store bought crust. I not a fricken baking superhero. Because that would be the weakest superhero ever.

Salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 cups beef broth for making gravy. Or use jar gravy. Whatever. Lame.

Above quantities make one pie.

Right. Before starting, follow the instruction on the pie crusts. You may need to thaw them, etc. I like my bottom crusts crispy, not doughy. So I pre bake mine.  If you are a baking superhero, get yourself set up with your crust action.

Cut up the potatoes and boil them like you are going to make mashed potatoes. Because that’s what you are going to do. While yer taters are boiling, dice up the onions and fry them up with the ground pork and ground beef, breaking up the meat so it’s combined and in small pieces. When the meat is browned, drain off and reserve a little of the fat. You are going to use this to make gravy. Unless you are going to use jar gravy (lame).

When the potatoes are done, drain them and mash them up good. Add all the spices. You can use a bit of beef broth to loosen them up. Add the browned meat and onions to the potatoes. Mix it until it’s a consistent meaty potatoey glop. Yum. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Turn out the meat and potato mixture into the pie shell. Pile it in there thick, then round it out and make sure it’s smooth. Cover with your top crust and make it as pretty as you can muster. Cover the crust edges with foil so they don’t burn. Pop it in a 350 oven for an hour. When you have about 15 minutes left on the timer, take off the foil and let the edges brown up. Fricken pie.

Now. While your pie is cooking, take some of that fat you reserved from cooking the meat and onions. Heat it up in a sauce pan. Add teaspoons of flour and whisk it around until it’s thick and melty. Add more flour if you want, depending on how much gravy you need. Start adding broth by the cupful, whisking it in until it thickens up. Even if it looks thin, it will thicken up eventually. Keep cooking it and stirring it. There you go. Fricken gravy.

When the pie is all golden and glowy, take it out of the oven, cut yourself a slice and slather it with your homemade gravy. De. Fricken. Lish.

So, I brought this pie to the party and I was feeling pretty confident. But then other people arrived and I was completely knocked out by how serious people were about their pies.

Wow! There were no slouches. No one went to Fred’s and picked up a refrigerator pie. Everyone seemed to have a signature creation.

Look at this. Ridiculous. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. It is pie, after all. And apple is one of my favorites.

There were many gorgeous pies. There were probably 15 different kinds. Sweet pies, savory pies, pretty pies, vegetarian pies, vegan pies. And there were probably over 20 people there. Maybe 30. And we stuffed ourselves. There was just So Much Pie. We ate until we were comatose. Oh, and there was beer too, to wash it all down. Good strong home brew. And Dave brought a Belgian sour beer. It was tasty.

In the end, there were three categories for prizes. Sweet, Savory and Pretty. I’m proud to say that my Pork Pie, the Pie of My Forefathers, The Pie Of My Heritage and The Land I Unfortunately Had To Renounce (Massachusetts), my pie won the savory category. I was humbled and honored. And I was so thankful to have a whole other pie waiting for me at home.

What a party. Thanks Rick and Nedra! And happy birthday too!

Now. Related: In our various cooking adventures, I have been getting a “vibe” that I may somehow be a tiny, little bit insane because I can’t stand the smell of food in the bedroom when I am trying to sleep. This has mostly been unavoidable as my last two apartments were all one big, open room. So after cooking, hours later, I schlep off to bed and I as I hunker in to try to sleep, I smell onions. Or baked fish. Or fried things. Or whatever. I have literally been kept awake by the strong smell of food. I love sausage as much as anyone. Just not at 3 am when I’m trying to sleep.

I don’t need this. I’m enough of a nutjob already. I don’t need help NOT sleeping. And the urgency of this situation, the smelly-lingering-food-smell-while-trying-to-sleep situation seems pressing to exactly one of us in our apartment. The other just seems bemused. So, blessedly, we have a door to close to our bedroom in our new place. Yay! Easy solution! Is the door ever closed? No. Do I, myself, sometimes forget to close the door before cooking? Yes.

So I’m a girl and I don’t feel ashamed for buying occasional foofy products like linen spray. I spritz it on my pillow before going to bed and now it smells like sunshine and happiness. Okay? Ten bucks buys me a little sanity. Well fricken worth it.


  1. You *are* a baking superhero. Don’t sell yourself short! You won first place!

    And I expect a pork pie upon our arrival in Portland May 12th.

  2. Yay!! Neat!! I was wondering if a savory pie is still considered a pie! Of course it is!! And did you hear that internet? She has a whole other pie waiting for her at home…!

  3. Oh yum! I love love love savory pies like steak and kidney pie and pasties. I can totally show you how to make the most awesomest pie crust that’s totally easy and amazing, if’n you want! I’m probably going to be making at least 2 pies within the next week or so if you’re interested.

  4. Here’s something my husband brought to the marriage that everyone says is wonderful… Hamburger Pie. I don’t know where it gets it’s name because it sure ain’t a pie!
    1 lb ground beef
    1/4 onion
    1 can of french cut green beans
    1 can of tomato soup
    Mashed Potatoes

    Fry the hamburger and onion till done. Drain. Then add drained green beans and the can of tomato soup. Heat till hot.
    Put the mashed potatoes on the plate and put the meat mixture over the top.

    It sounds gross, but everyone who tries it loves it!
    I haven’t eaten meat in years so I wouldn’t know!
    I can tell you…It ain’t no fricken pie!

  5. i’m sorry, Heather, but that sounds REEEE-volting. But then again, I am really not a pie person. Shush my mouth, I know. Chicken pot pie is good though…

    The apple pie was gorgeous.

  6. @ Steve, I’m going to get a cape! Super Baker! And I’ll bake you some pie when you guys git yer butts up here to Portland.

    @Meredith LOVES Pork Pie! (no, she doesn’t)

    @Devlyn Crust just sounds…ambitious. I don’t have a mixer/food processor thing. Surprising, because we have every other kitchen gadget on the planet.

    @Natika That sounds like my kind of dish! Is he from the Midwest?

    @Kelli Pork pie may sound revolting, but let me remind you: It was AWARD WINNING. Sorry also to hear about your dentist adventures. Fun stuff.

  7. It makes me so happy that people in Portland like to cook. I’ve lived all over the midwest (where people like to cook–well, mainly meat and potatoes and jello), but during my two years in Chicago, no one liked to cook. Too busy working and commuting. So I’d show up to a function or it’d be ‘birthday day’ at work, and lo and behold, there sat a table-full of packaged cookies and macaroni salad from the deli. Ugh.

    So I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see a table-full of real food. *sigh*

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