All’s Well That Ends with Pie

This past weekend went from packed to zero in a disorientingly rapid fashion thanks to covid 19 and social distancing. It’s been very strange but I’m grateful that Michigan’s governor has been aggressive in preemptively closing schools, cancelling gatherings, and strongly encouraging social distancing.

The schedule clearing actually started Wednesday morning, a quarter of my class was supposed to attend an interprofessional education session at Oakland University with second year medical students but with the first two cases of Covid 19 confirmed in Michigan, one from my school’s county and the other in OU’s, that event was cancelled….fifteen minutes before it was supposed to start. Soon my youngest son’s regional spelling bee scheduled for Friday was cancelled followed closely by the Pi Day run we had signed up for and then the youngest’s last basketball game. By Thursday evening all the K-12 schools in Michigan were closed for the next three weeks and the outlook for this week had shifted dramatically. My spring break is this week anyway, now I get to enjoy a little more down time with the kids over break.

Still, though, I was at a bit of a loss over how to fill all the new found time. And somewhat disappointed about the cancelled Pi Run. I love Pi Day and have been waiting for years for it to fall on a weekend so we could do a good and proper Pi themed race. Clearly some Pi day Pies were in order…to ease the disappointment and fill the time.

You may not be aware of this but pies are one of my favorite things to bake. I enjoy the challenge of making a good, flaky golden pie crust from scratch and there are so many possible types and combinations of crusts, styles, and fillings. Pies are truly an art form, one I’ve practiced at for years…this round of pies, though, was more learning experience than art.

First there was the banana cream pie, my daughter had her wisdom teeth extracted on Wednesday afternoon and still wasn’t eating full on solid foods by Saturday. We had two slightly past ripe bananas and she likes the cheap and easy pudding mix banana cream pie. No big deal right? wrong! Enter the apocalypse: Friday night the local stores were all out of milk. Cleaned right out. We had half a gallon but with four kids in the house that does not go very far. I did have a couple cartons of coconut mix in the cupboards and a quick Google search told me I could substitute coconut milk for regular milk in pudding mix. Great! I mixed it the pudding mix and coconut milk, folded in some whipped cream, poured it over sliced bananas in a premade graham cracker crust, and put it in the fridge to set. Except it didn’t set. Apparently I should have read a little further on my search, instant pudding mix does not thicken when made with coconut milk and hours later the filling was still liquid. I poured the liquid off the sliced bananas and mixed in some more cool whip. Another while later there was still no signs of setting so into the freezer it went and we had frozen banana pie.

 

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The liquidy mess

The next pie on my list was a classic apple pie. It’s one I’ve made (relatively) often for years and it usually turns out awesome. The crust is a very simple recipe of flour, salt, water and shortening but I like to use half coconut oil and half shortening. I didn’t realize I was out of shortening until I was making the crust so I just used coconut oil this time. As I was mixing the water in and wrapping the crusts to refrigerate I noticed they were a little dry but I didn’t think much of it; a flaky crust dances the too dry line anyway.

20200314_134851.jpgWhen I took it out of the fridge a while later and started to roll I realized this one landed on the dry side of that line.

20200314_153326.jpgOoops. Luckily even a crumbly crusted pie tastes pretty darn good.

20200314_164155.jpgLastly, I decided to make a pumpkin pie. Three pies may seem excessive but with everyone home and loitering about it really is not. (In fact, there’s maybe two pieces left now and it’s only Monday.) My 19 year old son made the crust for this one, he noticed that it looked a little dry and had the foresight to add more liquid.

It came out perfectly.

Despite the foibles of these pies they made for a delicious Stay at home Pi Day celebration.20200314_210408.jpg