Sunday, June 10, 2012

Philosophy of Pie and Picnics

Vegan Coconut Pie
Between tonight and tomorrow this subject must become theoretical, as Monday my church begins fasting in preparation for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Though I admit to making vegan desserts, like this coconut pie for Father L.'s birthday, usually I'd rather just wait until a fast-free day to enjoy the butter and cream. Hey, by then I'm happy to pour cream in my coffee and call it dessert.

But that's not festive enough for a picnic, or for a tea party. I think both of those events demand some cake, if they are going to be traditional (in addition to the scones, if you want those). Sadly, our family is generally lacking in cakes, with the major exception of Pearl, who learned on her own and makes lovely ones. I don't think her household lacks cake; I don't know anything about their picnics.

The rest of us, going back a couple of generations and on both sides of the family, eat pie. One of us even declared, "Cakes are for looking at."

I can't grant that much myself, because my very few attempts at cake decorating beyond the sprinkling of some coarse sugar did not draw any comments about prettiness. My favorite topping for children's birthday cakes of long ago was an array of gumdrops -- but with that we start slipping into the candy category.

It may have been Big Sister Pearl who baked this birthday cake for Soldier, using plenty of that ingredient that is so important. I can see something in his expression that hints at what he would do 20 years down the road: leave cake out of his wedding altogether, in preference for pie.

I blame bloggers for giving me the feeling that something is missing. Have you noticed how many blog posts have been written about this or that recipe for cake, which comes out of the oven in the late morning or afternoon just in time to have a slice with some tea, at the kitchen table with the children just home from school, or just taking a break from homeschool?

Proof that I baked a cake
It's not clear how I would work that tradition into my lifestyle at this point. My husband would be alarmed and reluctant, to put a good spin on it, and might not eat any cake. I'm considering reviving my Girlfriends Tea Parties just so I can make a cake or two. When I did this before it was a great way to try out a few of the hundreds of dessert recipes I have in my collection. After we sampled them together, all the ladies took home most of the leftovers to share with their sweeter-toothed husbands.

One huge advantage to packing the cake into a basket instead, to be eaten on a blanket spread under a tree, is that I wouldn't have to clean the house beforehand. But the Old English style of picnicking has also not caught on in the Glad Tribe. Our group has favored throwing handfuls of trail mix into their mouths so that they can get to the mountain peak and back before dark. None of this leisurely sitting around eating and fattening up.

But I have a new desire to broaden our style in that regard, too, probably from reading too many blog posts about Wind in the Willows and grown-up girls taking their Toad and Mole dolls on outings with yummy noshables.

It's good that I will have a few weeks to think about these important questions -- or rather, not to think about them. And by then I'll be too busy getting ready for a new grandchild, and getting ready for a trip...Then there will be another fast, and then another new grandchild. All these ideas for events that require a Lot of Planning really don't fit in this summer.
 
But it won't take long to throw together a pie to set before my dear husband, a blackberry or cherry would suit just fine, and leftovers won't be a problem.



10 comments:

Pom Pom said...

We were a pie family, too! In my teens I began baking cakes from scratch, most of them sad flops. Now I fancy some cake but I can buy one slice at the market so I do! You have pretty hands, Gretchen Joanna!

Harmony said...

I'd be very happy to plan a proper picnic and eat it with you! Maybe next summer... I generally find cakes disappointing, but I'm sure you have many recipes that would produce an above-average result.

Marfa said...

Please share the vegan coconut pie recipe! ♥ I bake cakes far more often that pies, but I do love pies too. Do you have a good vegan pie crust recipe? I've started using coconut oil in cakes and it's perfect...I suppose that would make a nice crust, too!!!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Aside from birthday cakes, which are a strictly Duncan Hines' affair, we are a pie family. Still, I like the idea of taking a nice lemon cake on a picnic. I think picnic cakes should be sans frosting, to avoid the mess. Does gingerbread count as cake? Gingerbread and ginger beer ... sounds very Wind and the Willows to me, for some reason!

xofrances

Gumbo Lily said...

I love cake. And Pie. I like to make both and just finished eating up a cherry pie with last June's cherries from the freezer. On Sunday I made Molten Lava Cakes. Oh Yum. The nice thing about them is you only make 6 small cakes. Just don't eat more than one a day or you will be sick from how rich they are.

I love your hands.

Jody

GretchenJoanna said...

Yes, I do have a good vegan pat-in crust recipe. I don't know where I wrote down the recipe for the coconut pie, but I wrote about it before here: http://gretchenjoanna.blogspot.com/2009/08/recalling-pies-and-martyrs.html
I will work on getting that crust recipe on to the computer -- I am surprised to find that it isn't here already!
It might be time for an update on the vegan pie theme.

Angela said...

In our house we eat more cakes than pies, although no one around here would turn down either one :)

Jeannette said...

A young fellow we both know...thought cake a great idea...first time he was ever here back when and before, shall we say...He even helped me make it in between chess moves. A few months ago the same fellow tasted my carrot cake which he said he had never understood before...so maybe with maturity the taste for both can be sustained?

DebD said...

I much prefer pies too. 2 new grandchildren in one year.... how wonderful for your whole family.

Sarah said...

I echo Harmony. One day I'd love to share a picnic meal and cake with you. Maybe in a year...for baby's first B.D. :-).