How to prevent pie trauma

So my big plan was to make a blackberry pie and a sour cherry pie for a new dinner group we were recently invited to join. All of the members are incredible cooks. I desperately wanted to make a good impression so they didn’t kick us out before appetizers were over.

I’d never made pie crusts from scratch before but this was a group of honest to goodness cooks so I figured Mrs. Smith’s from the frozen section probably wasn’t appropriate. First up – blackberry pie since it takes 4-6 hours to set according to the recipe I found after hours of panicked Googling for the best one.

I learned quickly that making your own pie crusts is a huge PITA but that’s a story for another day. Still, I figured if it kept us from being laughed out of the group it would be worth it.

Everything was going well until the oven started smoking. The blackberry filling had apparently spilled over and coated the oven floor which now looked like a culinary crime scene.

Before long the house began smelling of Eau de Campfire and I knew the smoke alarm would go off when I took the pie out of the oven. I was at the house by myself and nobody would be home for hours and I’m way too short to reach the button thingy to shut the smoke alarm off even when standing on a chair. I went to retrieve a ladder and found that the ladders were all flucked up behind a bunch of crap in the garage and I had no time to retrieve one without our house burning down.

With 4 minutes to go I ran across the street to see if my neighbors could help but they had just left to move their daughter to Orlando. Their daughter’s friend Katie was there so I introduced myself, babbled my plight, admired her tallness, and asked for her help. Thankfully she agreed because I had no Plan B. She came on over, climbed onto the kitchen chair, and readied for smoke alarm button-pressing duty as I opened the oven door to a billow of smoke and a blackberry mine field on the oven floor.

I’m still not sure why the smoke alarm didn’t go off. All I know is the pie turned out OK and I smelled like a firefighter. I thanked Katie profusely for her help and she said to come on by if I needed her for anything else. (If I was her I would have bolted the door and not answered the bell until my neighbors returned but maybe that’s just me).

It took several hours for the haze to clear and several hours after that before our house no longer smelled like a campground. Steeling myself for another disaster, I scraped the oven and put in the second pie. Thankfully there was no further trauma.

The pies were a huge success and the dinner group didn’t kick us out. One of the members asked what kind of pie crust I used. When I said I made it from scratch she wondered why I didn’t just get ready-made because making your own is a huge PITA.

Pretty sure I’ve found my people.

Moral of the story:

  • Always put a pan thingy on the lower shelf when making pies.
  • Good neighbors are awesome even when they are not home.
  • There’s nothing wrong with Mrs. Smith’s.

Pie recipes:

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/marilyn-batalis-blackberry-pie

https://www.chukar.com/recipes/summer-cherry-pie.html

About Coleen DeGroff

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