Right this minute, the entire mid-Altantic and northeast regions of the U.S. are getting hammered by a blizzard. Even here in our forested western North Carolina cove, there are blustery winds and tiny snowflakes tossing every which way. Spring might be slated for a mere week from now, but winter is definitely giving us a last hurrah.
Today, though, is all about pie, or Pi, as it were. As defined by Wikipedia “The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes spelled out as “pi” (/paɪ/).” And because I love a good pun, and cheekiness in general, what better way to celebrate math, and pie, and the intersection of mid-March (3/14) with almost spring than to bake. Amiright?
To that end, I present you with my recipe for Honey Pie. Sweet without being cloyingly so, this is the kind of pie that you bake, and then, poof, it disappears. You, and those in your home, will keep creeping back for additional slices and bites and before you know it, the pie has been completely consumed. I guarantee it. It’s that good. And, because hope always springs eternal, as it were, we topped the pie with forsythia and quince blooms from our yard (both of which are edible), and fried sage leaves, for a bit of spring cheer.
Happy Pi day, happy Pie Day, happy almost-spring, and happy Wednesday!
ALSO: Spring-y pies from years past:
Honey Pie (from A Year Of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies, Ashley English, Lark Books, 2012)
Given a good supply of available nectar, honeybees will have honey ready to harvest in late spring. This custard-based pie showcases honey’s ambrosial qualities with every bite. Incredibly easy to make, this pie would make a wonderful gift for your own “Sweetie.” If you want to really guild the lily, serve a slice with a small glass of honey mead.
Makes: One 9-inch pie.
You will need:
½ recipe Basic Pie Dough (recipe below)
-1 cup whole milk
-4 large eggs, room temperature
-1/2 cup honey
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt
-Nutmeg, freshly grated
Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of your pie pan.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust 6-7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Line the piecrust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, leaving the oven at 400 degrees F. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment paper from the crust, and cool it completely before filling.
Prepare the filling:
Warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch carefully and remove the pan from the heat just before bubbles begin forming on the surface of the milk. Set aside. Whisk the eggs, honey, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the warmed milk to the egg mixture slowly, whisking in a bit at a time before adding more. Once all of the milk is added to the egg mixture, whisk thoroughly to ensure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Assemble the pie:
Pour the filling mixture into the prepared crust, and then grate fresh nutmeg liberally over the surface.
Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Cool at least 1 hour before serving.
Basic Pie Dough
Makes 2 pie dough disks
You Will Need:
-2½ cups all-purpose flour
-1¼ teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
-¾ cup ice water
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (you should still have rather large bits of butter when you’re done). Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface, and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape into two balls. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Proceed according to the recipe instructions. Alternately, store the dough disks in an airtight container or zippered freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months (you’ll need to move the dough out of the freezer and into the refrigerator 24 hours before you plan to use it).
It is late February, and I have the door open. That bears repeating-it is February, 2/3rd’s of the way through winter, and it’s warm enough both inside the house and outside of it that I can comfortably keep the door open to enjoy the fragrance of the forest, the abundant birdsong, and not have to keep getting up to let the cats and dogs in and out. It is strange, and disconcerting, and also very welcome, all at once.
I never intended to go months without blogging. I also equally never intended to experience the sort of challenging pregnancies that I do. We make our plans, and then we see where they go, right? Such is life. I love being a mother. I love the challenges it presents and the rewards it offers more than any other work I do. That said, I don’t have easy pregnancies. This one in particular, at 40, has presented even more uphill climbs than my first, when I was 34. Though I am active and spry, a pregnancy at 40 is simply different. I move more slowly, I started showing earlier. Oh, and I groan like I have never groaned and moaned before in my life.
But, BUT, here I am, at 22 weeks, with a very active, very wiggly, very kicky little boy growing. It is both a comfort and a totally strange thing to have another life present inside of you, to have your own body serve as host to another’s. I met with a doula yesterday, my dear friend Sabrina. We didn’t use a doula with Huxley, but relied on our midwives for the entire birthing process. This go-round, I’ll be using the obstetrician who saved my life after Huxley was born (you can read the entire riveting experience here) for all of my ob/gyn needs.
But, as I age, and being a ferociously independent person my entire life (some might say stubborn…this might be true…), I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s necessary on occasion to actively solicit it. With this birth, I’m asking for help. For myself, for Glenn, and for Huxley, and Sabrina is the ideal person to offer it. She is wise and kind and empathic and comforting and lightening bolt smart, all at once. We chatted over tea yesterday afternoon at Dobra while our husbands and sons played together at a local park. Then we all went out for fried chicken. I left our time together feeling held, and supported, and acknowledged in a way I didn’t feel with my first pregnancy. Having an advocate, in the role a doula functions in, is a serious gift, to ourselves and to those we love.
In other, non-baby news, here’s a little smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention recently:
*A dear friend of ours passed away this week. He was, without question, one of the kindest people I have ever known. As my friend Nicole put it, “there are those people who light up a room, and those who light up the world.” If you feel so led, you can read his obituary here and consider a donation.
*This cast iron teapot warmer would be a lovely way to keep your Darjeeling toasty.
*Curious to check out this pack of all-natural food coloring with the season of egg-dyeing drawing closer.
*Came across a wintersweet plant several weeks ago. It had the most ambrosial aroma, much like honeysuckle, and there it was, blooming, in winter! Thinking of getting one for here in the cove.
*Like this small roundup from A Cup Of Jo of great podcasts to check out.
*It’s seed-staring time. Here’s a helpful guide for getting started.
*We’ve been trying to increase our intake of fermented foods here at home. Thinking of giving this kraut a go.
*Are you on Instagram? I love it. While I’ve been AWOL here since October, I’m there on the regular. Some of my favorite accounts to follow are Rudy Jude, Fox Meets Bear, House Inhabit, Floret Flower, Circle Of Pines, and Little Green Shed.
*For reasons I can’t really explain, I’ve had Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band on my mind lately. I have no clue why. These things happen, and I try not to fight them. I was practically reared on Bob Seeger, The Eagles, and early Rod Stewart. Maybe it’s my childhood resurfacing while I’m pregnant. Who knows. I love Bob Seeger the way folks love Christmas. He’s kind of my litmus test for friendships. If you can’t hang with Bob, I don’t know if we can hang. I’m only kind of kidding there. Who couldn’t like this crooning?!
Alright, friends. A cold, wet front is moving in. I’ve got warm P.G. Tips in my mug, beeswax candles lit, a kick in my belly, and love for you in my heart.
Whatever you do this weekend, wherever you go, and whomever you do it with, may it be grand!!!
*Glenn took this image of Mt. Pisgah yesterday afternoon from the top of our road. Looking more and more like spring everyday.