The Pie's the Thing

I have a mother-in-law whose abilities to make PIE are pretty much, legendary. She made a birthday pie for a friend the other evening. Quoting Rachel: “Lisa, can you alert me the next time you make pie and then include me in eating it?”

My friend Gina Hyams has a similarly renowned-for-pie mother-in-law. When she began to work on her Pie Contest in a Box project, her mother-in-law kindly shared her secrets. Turns out many wonderful pie bakers welcomed Gina into pie society.


I completely enjoyed interviewing Gina. After doing so, my eldest hatched a great idea: have a pie contest at Tuesday Market. I added this to the hatching: to raise money for doubling the SNAP benefits. We went to Ben. He smiled a little wider than he usually does. Think, jaw-aching smile.

Flash forward a few busier-than-busy farmers’ weeks and you have the idea turning into reality. Reserve September 13th for Tuesday Market. The Nields will be playing there and might even sing a song about pie. If you want to test your pie-making mettle, you can enter a pie, one made with some local ingredients, please. You may have a fantastic raspberry pie recipe, or peach, or some variation that includes rhubarb. Local fruit, that’s your parameter. And one of the judges, no one less esteemed a pie baker than Lisa Baskin herself. That’s my mother-in-law!

If you don’t bake, you can still come and donate and eat pie. It’s all about eating pie, right?

To get you psyched for the pie contest, I have a copy of Gina’s Pie Contest in a Box to give away. I’m going to make it easy as pie (pun intended). Leave me a comment with your very favorite kind of pie or a funny pie story. If someone has actually smushed pie in your face, for example, I do want to know about it.


While I have been told by my mother-in-law that she’d show me how to bake pie I just don’t believe I’d pick up pie baking. True confession: I’m beginning to wonder whether I have a bad reaction to wheat or gluten or one of those essential baking ingredients. If so, pie baking probably wouldn’t be in my future. Besides, although it is a ghastly thing to tell you when writing about gorgeous pies, I mainly believe that these words necessarily go together: dessert and chocolate.

Even worse, recently I’ve gotten completely re-addicted to unsweetened carob chips. This puts me frighteningly far into some hippie Netherland right?

Although the larger truth about her is that she’s an amazing activist and collector of rare books my mother-in-law happens to be masterful in the kitchen. I have been getting really helpful tips on jamming from her. I’m totally thrilled to be granted membership into the sisterhood of the jammers. I am betting others feel about pie baking the way I feel about jamming, besotted. And for the record, 1) my mother-in-law’s pies are crazy divine; even I get that plus 2) if I could mature enough to imagine fruit anything=dessert, my esteem for pie would grow exponentially since of the fruit desserts pie is definitely the best one without contest (pun intended).

**Note: pie photos courtesy of Lisa Baskin

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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