The PiePhone Diaries: What to do When Your Pie Fruit Starts to Get Ahead of You

The PiePhone Diaries is an occasional feature around here, an iPhone photo journal accompanied by a few words of possible interest – or possibly not – to pie aficionados and other home cooks.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but – in addition to my work here at The Pie Academy – I write food articles for magazines and books for real publishers, “real” as in I send them recipes, they send me checks. Nice arrangement, and there are worse ways to make a living.

In fact, here’s a coffeecake I’m currently working on for one magazine. I can’t say who it’s for, but if you’d like me to get you the recipe, just send me an email and let me know.

My current book project is a real colossus, a thick collection – along with pies – about my #1 subject: comfort foods, including cheesy pastas, meatloaves, heavenly potato dishes, oozing enchiladas, hearty soups, stews, and the rest of my favorite food groups. Problem is, it’s 220 recipes. It was 110.

I say “problem” but it’s really my own fault. You see, I started sending my publisher photos of the recipes, like these cheese-stuffed baked tomatoes…

and this Spiced Black Bean Soup with Chorizo…

…and really incredible spaghetti pie…

…and these cool French onion baguette thingys I invented….

…and before you know it they called and said, Ken, I don’t know what we were thinking – silly us – but we really should have ordered up 220 recipes instead of 110. 

Only they didn’t so much double the deadline, but sort of left it where it was. (Job security being what it is these days, I chose not to point that out.)

Rest assured, I’m not complaining. It’s just that sometimes – like you’ve experienced, perhaps – life gets busy, throws you a curve, you start to get a little behind, and then things get away from you.

Like the peaches I picked up last week at a farm stand outside Aiken, SC. They were beautiful and well priced, so I bought a big basket, thinking I’d use them quickly. I didn’t. In fact, they sat and languished all week until I knew if I didn’t do something soon, they’d simply rot in the box.

So I blanched and sliced them, threw in some berries that were also getting away from me. Then I added sugar and lemon juice and froze them in plastic containers, with a note to myself about what it was, how much, and what I needed to add (just the thickener.) I am all about reminder notes: I’ve got a mind like a steel sieve.

There’s a lot of fruit there, so I’ll make one big pie – probably for the July 4th holiday – and it will go in my mondo 12″ blue Le Creuset pie pan which, incidentally, I still have a dwindling few of, if you’d like to purchase one. I love this pan. (It comes with a special scaled-up recipe for the bottom crust.) Just use the contact tab at the top of the page to email, if you’re interested.

Now, instead of wasting about $13 worth of great pie fruit, it’s patiently waiting for me in the freezer.

Lesson: summer fruit is so abundant, it’s easy to start taking it for granted or letting it fall by the wayside. But don’t! Freeze it instead, while it’s at its peak. You can do like I did, and blanch, peel, slice, and sugar the fruit first; this work nicely for stone fruits. Or – with all berries – flash freeze them on a metal baking sheet, then put them in plastic freezer bags before freezing.

Finally, I mentioned recently that Oprah was going to be featuring my pies on her website, and they just went up. If you’re a regular reader of The Pie Academy, you’ll recognize some of them. But it’s just kinda cool to have her acknowledge The Pie Academy and have my pies featured on her site. I hope you’ll check it out. 

Ken Haedrich, Dean of The Pie Academy