Chick Wit

Pie Charted January 17, 2021

By Lisa Scottoline

It’s been a hellish week in our country.

So I won’t talk about it here.

My job is to make you smile.

So today we’re talking pies.

I say this because there’s something special about a pie.

Like I woke up yesterday thinking, I have to eat some pie, and if I don’t have pie in the house, I’m going to make one.

That’s how crazy last week was.

I needed emergency pie.

Never mind that the last time I baked a pie was forever ago.

There’s a simple reason for this. I’m a terrible baker. I get it from Mother Mary, who was the best cook in the world, but didn’t like to bake.

Our idea of baking was a frozen Sara Lee strudel that I remember so well I can taste it. It came in tinfoil with a paper top, and we always thought it was very fancy because it was Sara Lee.

Meanwhile I have no idea if Sara Lee was real.

To me, she was Queen Elizabeth.

If Sara Lee wasn’t a real person, I don’t want to know it.

I’m not looking it up.

I’m still bummed about Mavis Beacon, my pretend typing teacher.

Not to mention Tony the Tiger.

I mean, tigers can’t talk.

But they are grrrrrrreat!

We had those Sara Lee strudels once a week, and we baked them in the oven just as they were.

We ate out of the tinfoil plate.

We kept it classy.

Mother Mary also baked a dish I’ve never heard of before or since, which was a pie stuffed with Ritz crackers that was supposed to taste like an apple pie.

Weirdly, it did.

I don’t know how such a dish was ever created.

A better question is, why?

Why stuff a pie with crackers?

Why not popcorn?

Or trashbags?

At least then you have fewer carbs.

I don’t get why not apples.

Is fruit that expensive?

My guess is that a box of Ritz crackers cost more than a few apples, but if you live through the era I did, you grew up on the strangest meals, like tunafish casserole with potato chips baked inside.

I have no idea who was giving culinary advice back then.

I’m guessing it was the snack food lobby.

I’m surprised we didn’t have pretzel souffle.

In any event, my mother would make this fake apple pie, and it went down like lead.

That is to say, it was delicious.

That’s the thing about pie in the Scottoline tradition. If it’s heavy, you know it worked.

It’s not food, it’s ballast.

I’m pretty sure you could throw me overboard after I ate one of those pies and I could’ve anchored your boat.

In any event, the morning I woke up knowing that I would end the day with pie, I knew I wouldn’t have any in the house and I knew I would have to make it. But I had no idea if I had the ingredients for piecrust and I didn’t really want to make piecrust. I remembered that I had some puff pastry dough in the freezer, from the last time Francesca was home, though I’d never worked with puff pastry dough, I was about to start.

I mean, it’s not rocket science, right?

Turns out it kind of is.

Or at least it’s chemistry, which I took in the summer, so I will never bake anything successfully.

To return to point, I got the puff pastry dough out of the freezer, but of course it said to let it thaw out. I wasn’t about to wait, so I just unrolled it, warmed it with my hands, and then tried to stretch it around.

You know my ethos. Directions are overrated.

Nobody is the boss of me.

Not even common sense.

On the side of the puff pastry box, there was an apple turnover recipe, so I converted it to pie purposes.

I mean, does it make a difference?

Can carbs discern intent?

Anyway I chopped a bunch of apples, sautéed them with butter and sugar and cinnamon, and I did all that fairly successfully.

By that time the frozen dough had softened just enough to press it inside a pie plate, so I put the apple filling inside, then cut some of the dough into strips and made a half-assed lattice top.

That’s my brand.

Half-assed baking.

I put it in the oven and half an hour later, I had a pretty decent puff-pastry apple pie, which was just what I wanted.

It was heavy.

In other words, perfect.

At least it wasn’t stuffed with Triscuits.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2021

Talking Eternal with Lisa Scottoline Video Series

Episode 11 airs January 19 at 7:30 pm ET.

Join Lisa on Facebook every Tuesday at 7:30pm EST for her weekly video series followed by a Facebook Live event where she talks about the fun and fascinating stuff behind Eternal, her first-ever historical novel, and announces that week’s winner for the Eternal Sweepstakes!

On Sale Now

Ghost of Harvard

Ghosts of Harvard, which The Washington Post called “a sweeping and beguiling novel” as well as “a rich, intricately plotted thriller,” is Francesca Serritella’s debut novel.

Get the Latest Essay in Your Inbox!

Fill out the form below to join Lisa’s Humorous Essay mailing list and get the newsletter in your inbox on Sunday mornings.

Read All the Past Essays!