In this tale, Syren’s Lynne Green evolves from making fruit pies to making savory pies. She believes there is “always time for pie.” We think you’ll enjoy the journey, and perhaps, it will inspire you to roll out some pastry later, and maybe even think about a trip afield this fall – to bag your own filling. ~BB
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The earliest memories I have of making pies happened as a young girl growing up in Canada, with an apple orchard in the front yard, and my mum and my Great Aunt Enid peeling and cutting up apples, rolling out homemade dough, with finished pies lining the counter. They would make several at a time – sometimes up to a dozen – and then freeze them, to be cooked when the hankering for pie occurred.
There was always fresh fruit – apples of course, blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb in the garden. My dad liked dessert, as did Enid’s husband, my Uncle Dick. I mean, who doesn’t like dessert? I know I have met a few people who say it’s not their thing, but I don’t really remember who they are because I’m not sure I can be friends with someone who isn’t a fan of after dinner delectable delights … just sayin’.
Homemade pie has always just been a part of my life. Over the years I have been truly stunned when serving a pie that I have made myself and someone says they’ve never had one that wasn’t store-bought. When we moved to Texas, in the late ’70s, we didn’t always make pie, but there always was dessert. I remember in high school putting frosting on a 9×13 cake I had baked and was using the tub of icing sparingly, and my father walked by and said in a serious tone, “Use the whole container,” so I did, with delight! Nice to be given permission to add more icing – usually my favorite part when it comes to cake!
And while I won’t usually turn down a piece of cake, I am truly a pie girl. I could very easily choose between pie and cake, and it will always be pie for me. I have asked that question dozens of times throughout the years of people and then when they say pie, I take it 1 step further and usually ask, “Fruit pie or cream pie?” I have found the answers are very dependent on what was readily available for them growing up – country kids usually say fruit and city kids usually say cream. Then there is the random person that doesn’t like “cooked fruit,” so cream pies win … definitely in the minority.
As I got older, I started making pies again. I had some girlfriends out to my parents’ place outside of Dallas for some dove hunting and since we were making all our own food – including cooking the doves we shot – we decided to make some pies. By that point though, I had started using the Pillsbury roll out crust – yes, I know this is shocking, but for girls who have day jobs and don’t have time to perfect homemade crust, this is a GREAT alternative! The crust is easy to work with and beautiful and flaky! I’m even sometimes tempted to claim it as my own when someone asks if I make my own crust.
That being said, making pies is also a bit like therapy for me. It’s a relatively short-term task that results in a sweet-smelling kitchen and makes people smile and happy to see you.
Apple pie requires a bit more of an effort, with having to peel the apples, but if you’re only doing 1 pie, that’s usually only 4-6 apples. While blueberry is so easy and quick – with just mixing the flour and sugar other ingredients and then stirring in the berries to coat them before pouring them into the crust to bake. It’s probably less than 10 minutes for a blueberry pie – who doesn’t have time for that?
A few years later I realized that I could make pies as thank you gifts, thereby getting to satisfy my want of baking and giving a unique gift that most people don’t get every day. It was a big hit! I even did a raffle item for a charity event – for locals only – of a “Pie of the Month” for a whole year. The first time I showed up with the pie for the winner, it was to the winner’s office and the manager looked at me like I was an intruder. The second month, she was more welcoming, and by the third month, they were all waiting for me with open arms to see what I had brought them! It was fun for me to try new things, too.
It was during this time, I worked with a woman, Michelle, who extra slices of my pies home to her husband and daughter. We sat right next to each other at the office, and I told her about my shooting adventures. She came in 1 day and said that her husband and daughter had nicknamed me “Shooter Pie” and I loved it so much I made it my Instagram handle! She even decorated a water bottle with that name on it for me.
So, all of this pie making history has led me to why I am writing about pie this month. We never really had savory pies growing up and if we did, it was maybe a store-bought chicken pot pie sort of thing. In 2012 I purchased a cookbook titled Grazing across Texas by Tosh Brown, who is actually a very accomplished photographer. Tosh went all around Texas and gathered up favorite ranch recipes and put them together with his amazing photos of the ranches and landscape of Texas. My brother-in-law, Daniel, appears in the book holding a beautiful redfish (on page 289). Of course, being ranches in Texas, there are a lot of wild game recipes in there and a lot of them for birds, along with fish and venison. Since I am a bird hunter, I started checking them out and contemplating stepping away from my fruit pie love and trying out some of these savory pies. I baked the buttermilk pie from the CF Ranch (the same owners as Reata Restaurant in downtown Fort Worth) that has become my go-to custard pie recipe. My 1 MAJOR piece of advice on that one is DO NOT MELT the butter. The butter must be soft, but not melted. And that recipe makes 2 pies, so plan accordingly.
After dove hunting a few years ago, I came home with extra doves from hunters and someone suggested I make a dove pot pie. So, I took that challenge and found a recipe in my aforementioned cookbook, from the author’s own Salado Seco Ranch, so I tried it. The biggest difference in this type of pie is that you cook the insides (meat) before it goes into the oven. I also experimented with adding puff pastry on top, instead of just a regular pie crust. Again, BIG HIT! When I took it to the office that morning, I had finished cooking the puff pastry just before work and it was still warm. One of the ladies had 2 pieces before 10 a.m. and there was only 1 slice left by noon. Hmmm – maybe I was on to something.
So, I started looking through my other cookbooks and I found a lovely one from Donna Hay, titled Seasons, and another one from her, The New Classics. She’s like an Australian Martha Stewart and again, has the most amazing photos – especially the Seasons book, and she has some amazing savory pie recipes. I tried the beef, onion and red wine pie in the Seasons’ book and it tasted fine. Seems the folks in my office much prefer a hearty savory pie to a sweet pie – who knew?
During Thanksgiving 2018, I had some extra pheasants and chukar from a hunt, so I made the pheasant pot pie recipe from Grazing (page 179). This recipe calls for other yummy ingredients, including cream and pepper jack cheese. It also made 3 large pies, so I took a couple over to the fire station. At first, they looked at me warily, but when I mentioned that they were still warm, one of the firemen hopped up and gladly took them from me. That one will give Marie Callender a run for her money!
So, here we are with news about potential shortages of beef and pork in the headlines and I’m betting that a lot of you – my fellow hunters and huntresses – have some game in the freezer and you might be wondering what to do with it. Maybe you are bored with what you’ve been baking/cooking these last several weeks and need something new?
I recommend finding a pie recipe and get to baking! (The pie crusts are over by the butter in the refrigerator section. Puff pastry is usually in the freezer section near the frozen pies.) Don’t throw anything away, the edges of the puff pastry that I trimmed off, made for the best little personal pie ever!
I now have some pheasants hanging out in my freezer from my February trip to the Flying B Ranch and I am thinking that a savory pie is what needs to happen. A word of advice, some store-bought dough doesn’t look or taste like store-bought – and, if you don’t want to tell your secret, it’s safe with me! The smell of pie baking is the most heavenly scent ever – whether it’s sweet or savory – and the end result is always worth the effort!
If you need some help or advice, please let me know and if you do bake a pie, please share with me @shooter_pie and/or @pieisloveispie on Instagram!
Lynne@syrenusa.com or call me at 214-675-8855!