JEFF TIEDEMAN: Easy as PieNo other dessert can stand up to this American classic.
I don’t know too many people who will turn down an offer of dessert. That’s especially true if it’s homemade.
While most people gladly accept dessert after a meal, I like to eat mine an hour or two later, when my palate will fully appreciate it. That’s because when we have dessert, it’s usually on a special occasion when there are a lot of choices during the meal.
When it came to dessert, I used to be hard pressed to pick my favorite. After all, it’s hard to choose between the likes of apple crisp, German chocolate cake or any number of my mom’s tasty Christmas cookies or bars, just to mention a few.
But that all changed when I married Therese. Now, I can unequivocally say that the dessert that is closest to my heart (and stomach) is pie. (I’m not the only one who likes pie. Since 2002, pie consumption is up 16.5 percent according to Pillsbury.)
Grandma Apple Pie
Therese makes the best-tasting (and best-looking) pie I’ve ever eaten. In our family, she is revered for her apple pie. In fact, Therese is affectionately known as Grandma Apple Pie by our 7-year-old grandson, Theo, who lives in Cincinnati. He gave her that moniker during a visit a few years ago when he was only 2 or 3 years old.
Although her apple pie is perhaps her best, I’ve tasted some pretty good rhubarb custard pies and juneberry (saskastoon) pies that she’s made during the course of our 10-year marriage.
Just this past week, she made a rhubarb pie with remnants of the 2009 crop that I had frozen in vacuum-sealed bags last summer. It was a hit at home as well as with one of my friends from the gym, Wayne Knain, who is probably the biggest rhubarb dessert aficionado I know.
The best crust
Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Therese’s pie is the crust. I’ve never had a finer crust. Even my mom, who makes a good pie (she used lard for her crust), says Therese’s crust is the best she tasted.
Speaking of pie crusts, I can’t wait for Therese to try a double-crust recipe that was passed on to me recently by centenarian Richmond A. “Dick” Day, Grand Forks. I met Dick, who is 101 years young, at Parkwood Place while talking to residents there about food and cooking and sharing some of my homemade apple crisp.
After my presentation, I had the pleasure to talk with Dick for a while. During the course of our conversation, he commented about being from New England, so I asked if he was a Red Sox fan, since that’s who the Twins just happened to be playing that day.
Dick said he indeed was and shared an anecdote about the brother of Hall-of-Famer Joe Dimaggio, who played center field for the Red Sox. (At that time, the Braves also were in Boston, not moving to Milwaukee until 1953.)
It seems a batter hit a towering drive deep to center field, and Dom Dimaggio raced to the wall and made a tremendous leaping catch, much to the delight of the partisan Fenway Park fans.
When Dick asked his wife (it was her first baseball game) what she thought about the catch, she said isn’t that what he (Dimaggio) gets paid to do.
And then, after a score-one-for-the-wife gesture, he told me about the recipe. Dick said he used to love cooking, and one of his specialties was a two-crust lemon pie. The recipe, he said, dates back to about 1896 and was passed on from his grandmother. I asked Dick if he could send it to me, and a few days later, the recipe was in my mailbox at work.
I bet Therese can hit a home run with it.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.