Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pie Season [Recipe]

I heard some rat bastard saying "Fall" the other day and I threw up in my mouth.

I will say it again, y'all - August = SUMMER. Not fall. Just so we have that straight.

August also means pie, and so I'm going to institute a new, acceptable, alternate season name for August: Pie Season.

Feel free to use this new season name whenever you feel it's appropriate. Frankly, use it in December- I won't be mad. That's the beauty of Pie Season - it can really BE any month. As long as you're making pie.

You know, I can be loosey goosey like that.

For me though, the height of Pie Season is August.

This is because August is when the blackberries are ripe on The Hedge at my folks' place and my mom and I can celebrate my favorite day of the year (seriously, more favorite than Thanksgiving and you know I love a holiday where I can have four desserts): Blackberry Picking Day.

Ok, so, it's not a creative name. Whatever. Neither is 4th of July, and everyone seems to like that day so damn much.

Blackberry Pickin' Day goes like this:

I drive up to my mom's place in Sonoma County. We put on our straw hats and long sleeves and sheen of sunscreen and long pants and shoes that cover our toes and socks even though it's super fucking hot out.

This is The Hedge. Now you see why we call it that. It also ate an old Jeep.

Then we collect up all the random pint baskets my mom's been hording from the grocery store since I was, like, 5 years old and an abandoned cardboard flat and head out to The Hedge to stain our fingers and faces purple while talking trash about the neighbors and seeing who can sweat the most (me).

Some of these baskets are older than me.

After a few hours of being rudely mauled by The Hedge while we fill every last pint basket, we head inside, rinse them off and separate them into 5 cup servings for their individual Pie Bags.

Pie Bags are very technical. As you can well see here.

Pie Bags are my ingenious ifIdosaysomyself inventions that make the making of the pie so easy and way less messy, which, if you know me, are two very important things.

See, first, you put 5 cups of berries into a bag. This is the amount of berries that Joy of Cooking says go into a fruit pie, and I'm not going to fight them about it since I figure that they know. Then you freeze these individual bags for future use. In this case, I had 9+ bags of berries. That means 9+ pies. Or 2+ pies and also a batch of jam. Or 2+ pies and some jam and then I eat the rest when Bubba is out of the house. Or maybe I share with neighbors because my big mouth gets me intro trouble by offering things to people when it should really shut-up and not tell.

Or whatever.

Then, when you're ready to make pie, peel one frozen flat bag out of the freezer and let it thaw.

(Oh yeah, this is where The Recipe starts. Try to follow along.)

When it's thawed, preheat your oven to 425 and dump in the other pie filling ingredients:

3/4 sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 T lemon juice
1/8 t salt

Trust me. It's all in there.

Zip the bag shut and mix it all around until all you see is the frozen lemon ice cube if that's what you're using for lemon juice.

I like to hoard lemon juice. So I freeze it in the ice cube trays and put the cubes in this bag.
1 cube = 1 tablespoon. Just so you know.

When I make two pies, I do this process twice. See, there's some math.

I think Joy says to let the filling sit for a bit, which is fine since I still have to make the crust.

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c shortening
1 T ice cold water
1 t sugar
1 t salt

Cut it all together (minus the water) in a bowl using a pastry cutter. There's instructions for using the food processor which I find to be an unnecessarily aggravating process so I avoid it. Obviously.

Drizzle the water over the mixture and cut in until the consistency is that of crumbly peas or some nonsense. Roll it out, chill for a few minutes and then fold into a pie plate and fill with your berry mixture.

I always forget to drain some of the juice, but it still worked out.
Sometimes a turkey baster can be handy for this.
Sometimes I just move on.

Then cover the pie with your second crust. If you want to get fancy, you can do lattice or some other kind of crazy bullshit, but I am not talented in the patience and lattice category, so I do the finger crimping business and then cut some vents in there all haphazard-like and go on with my life.

You're only seeing a corner of this pie because the other corner is fucked up.

Then slide this baby onto a rimmed cookie sheet covered with tinfoil. This will help with the wretched bubbling over that always happens no matter how careful you are.

Bake for 30 minutes at 425, (this is a good time to wrap some foil around those edges) then reduce the heat to 350 and bake until the aforementioned bubbling occurs and the crust is nice and golden but FOR GODSSAKE not burnt.

Notice that my crust is not burnt and yet, I still look fucked up.

See, the beauty of blackberry pie (or any pie, really) is that you can have it any time of the day. Not just any season, but any time of the day in that season. So, breakfast is totally fine. Afternoon snack is also fine. Dessert after dinner is obviously fine and, hey, if you feel like it, hide in the closet when you're supposed to be walking the dog and have some pie.

Unless you're Bubba, in which case, walk the dog while eating pie. Then return home for your prize: more pie.

This was Sunday's breakfast.


  1. That looks really good! Must be blackberries everywhere, I'm making some blackberry jam tonight.

  2. How is it possible for your tomatoes to get ripe weeks before mine, but our blackberries finished over a week ago? Must be a different variety.

    I'm not going to call August Pie Season, you know. I'm going to call it Tomato Season. For obvious reasons.

    Hey, I have an awesome idea. Would you like to take a nice vacation? You could come here, sit on our beach, drink gin and (DIET) tonics while watching the sun set . . . and help me can about 3 million tomatoes. It'd be fun! Really!

  3. Ummm yummm that looks so good!

  4. Why oh why is my mouth watering? Can you answer me that question? And the one ater that too please.

  5. Ohmygosh, that pie looks awesome. It needs a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or maybe not -- it's probably just perfect! As usual, I burst out laughing several times. And I'm with you on all this talk of fall. Yuck. And heaven forbid, can you believe that some people are actually using the "C" word???

  6. Ever since reading your first post on this last year, I've had fantasies of a freezer full of fruit bags. (which kind of sounds gross, but still)

    You're a genius!

  7. Rohan - I think this weekend is jam time for us. I have to make some before I end up mouthing off and promising the berries to more neighbors. I'm such an ass!

    Kristin - These berries are the rare and illusive variety known as Wild Ass Blackberries That Grow For No Reason. My parents have lived on that land for 30 years and these blackberries have always just been there. Getting bigger all the time. They "trim" the bushes with a backhoe.

    Mom Taxi - Oh, it was good, doll. You can trust me on that.

    Claudia - Because you're looking at a beautiful blackberry pie, that's why! I promise - it's very good and worth the wateringness.

    Thimble - I'm going to assume you mean "Cold" because someone said that around here the other day and I was like, WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE 90 TOMORROW! Morons.

    Also, I don't have room for ice cream in my freezer what with all the bags of berries. Whoopsy!

    Wendy - It's OK to fantasize. I, too, fantasize about it. Which is why I trek out into the raging summer heat to pick all these. So that I can oogle them in my freezer. Like a god damned loon, yes.

  8. Of everything you've ever posted, this is the post that makes me cry. Can I tell you how much I want a slice? And I don't even like crust. Oy vey mama.

  9. Gosh, I love pie. I almost got a little choked up looking this here blackberry one. Yum....

    And seriously, fall? Now? It's bad enough that school starts in August, which seems ridiculous (because IT'S STILL SUMMER), but considering the high temps press on well into November here, I don't like to hear anything about "fall" until, oh, Thanksgiving. Or maybe Halloween, so that you don't have winter-speak starting the very next day. That may just be me, though.

  10. I'm all about having pie for breakfast. It's fruit and bread, right? Like having jam on toast. Totally acceptable and encouraged. Whenever I make cobbler I have it for breakfast the next day (but I don't tell hubs.)

    That hedge looks like it could swallow someone whole, but boy did you get some pretty berries from it! Thanks again for sharing with Grow Your Own!

  11. Mmmmm....that looks mighty good!

    I picked up a small, lonely-looking THORNLESS blackberry bush at a master gardener's/garden club sale this summer. I have NO IDEA where I'm going to put it, so it's still in it's pot, thriving through extreme neglect and rare watering. This bush wants to live, and I bet once it's happier in the ground, I have a feeling it'll become a monster! I might be checking back for your pie recipe in a year or two!

  12. That looks freakin' fantastic. I wanna hedge!


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