Family Pie — for my Mom & Dad

If you saw the movie Waitress and loved it, I hope to inspire you further — enough to create your own wonderful pie. The first time I watched the film was about 2-1/2 years ago over New Year’s, while at my mom’s house. At the time, I was pregnant with my third baby (maybe that’s why I bonded with Keri Russell’s pregnant character?) and Mom was recuperating from a recurrence of breast cancer that included chemo and a double mastectomy. So together with my mom, the ultimate food-lover, and several of my siblings, I watched that hilarious, heart-warming story. It was the beginning of “pie humor” in our family. As the credits rolled, my mom exclaimed, “We are having that ‘I hate my husband pie’ for dinner tomorrow!”  Sure enough, the next night we indulged in my mom’s decadent but oh-so-delicious traditional quiche Lorraine, the IHMH pie (with lots of brie). Oh, little mommy! It was divine. With her passing just three months ago, I am left missing her and her food enthusiasm. I am also the one left to carry on her food legacy, what can I say?! The truth is, we have a long “pie history” in our family. My dad simply loved pie. It was his favorite dessert, and he always complimented his bride’s pie-making. Until he got married, his mother, Maisy, had been the best pie maker in his world. Can you say LARD?!  In any case, my dad would go out of his way for a slice of homemade pie. Peach, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb, apple, pumpkin, banana cream, coconut cream, lemon chiffon — my mom made them all. (Pecan was not his favorite, for the record.)  During every trip to Miami University — a long drive across rural Ohio that he made through 4 daughters’ college years — we always stopped at the “Leaf Restaurant” to get a slice of blueberry pie. He always liked it, but it never was “as good as your mother’s.”  I loved those trips with Dad — and miss him and them dearly. That’s the gist of what pie meant to my Dad.  Now my mom loved her pies too, but I think she liked making them just as much as eating them. She simply loved all food, except oysters — but that’s another story… During this summer season, with swiss chard and beets filling my CSA farm box, I cannot help but think of Mom. She loved these two veggies in particular. Having spent the majority of her childhood in the Kentucky countryside, she was a big fan of all greens. Her best swiss chard recipe is in my cookbook (so I’m holding out on that one).

A note about crusts: As a very busy mom to 3 boys, I don’t have time to make them!  Occasionally, I make a trip to Whole Foods and stock up on frozen whole wheat pie crusts. I love them! They are perfect for the recipes that follow. If you want to make your own, I am a pure butter believer. My grandmother used lard, my mom used Crisco till I banned it, and I use butter. With whole wheat pastry flour and sweet cream butter, you’re good to go. In honor of both my beautiful parents, who would have celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary last week, I made 2 Sue-Sue Baby (my dad’s name for me) pies for them:

Kentucky Girl Swiss Chard & Beet Quiche

5-6 cups fresh swiss chard (1 large bunch)
1-2 fresh beets with greens (1 large or 2 small)
1 clove garlic, peeled & finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled & finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 eggs
1 cup 2% milk
salt & pepper, dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop greens off of beets and cut into smaller strips. Peel the beets and chop into small chunks. Cut stems off of swiss chard leaves.  Place all greens, stems and beet chunks in a large pot of water to cover. Bring to a simmer (low boil) and cook for about 5 minutes.  Place in strainer. Beat eggs and milk together. Add pinch of salt and pepper. Pour chard & beets into pre-made pie crust.  Sprinkle on chopped garlic and shallots and Parmesan cheese. Pour egg mixture over the filling.  Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and grind a bit of black pepper on top.

Bake for 35 minutes or until firm and browned on top. Enjoy!

For the Love of Bart Best-Ever Blueberry Pie

5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed & picked over
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tb. corn starch
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 pre-made whole wheat pie crusts

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and let stand for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour blueberry mixture into crust, then place second crust on top. Pinch around sides to seal. Make at least 4-6 small slits in top crust to vent. Rub cold water around edge of crust. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Place pie on a tray and bake another 35 minutes or until browned and bubbling over.

Let cool completely before serving with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!  They both would make my parents proud.

About Susan Greeley
Helping others achieve optimal health through good nutrition and lifestyle, Susan Greeley promotes wellness through diets rich in healthy, wholesome foods. She counsels clients in her own private nutrition practice and works as the staff nutritionist for a YMCA.

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