A few weeks ago, I was trying to find a birthday gift for a friend who’s got a green thumb, a veggie box subscription and an Insta full of gorgeous pics of fresh-picked berry pies. I already have a few cookbooks that fit the bill, Sarah Raven’s In Season, for instance. But, looking to expand my horizons, I asked a couple friends about their favourite new and go-to cookbooks.
On Cathy’s recommendation, I picked up Kate McDermott’s 2016 Art of the Pie. And, I’m glad I did. McDermott offers a whole slew of original crust recipes, including gluten-free and leaf-lard. Also, it took everything in me not to write down the recipes for McDermott’s Lemon Shaker Pie and Marionberry Pie before I wrapped the book. I’m hoping the birthday-girl invites me over to bake one of these with her real soon!
When Pyrite Sun goddess Sarah let me know Farm Journal’s Best Ever Pies was on her shelf, I took note. Patricia Ward’s book is out of print. And, I couldn’t get a copy in time for K’s birthday. But, for less than $3.00 from an online dealer, I ordered it for my own birthday a few weeks later. Yet, again, I’m glad I did. No pictures. I’m usually a sucker for pictures. Just simple, wonderful recipes. The Meringue Crust has gone straight to the top of my to-bake list as well as the Chocolate Coconut Pecan pie. Actually, Best Ever Pies reminds me a lot of Edna Staebler’s Food that Really Schmecks, a book I love so much I put it in the novel I’m editing. [One of my main characters makes Staebler’s “Cream and Crumble pie” and, listening to Wagner, mistakenly turns to “The Quinine Cure for Drunkenness.”]
But the magic, for me, was and always ever will be the surprise inside. When I opened my used copy of Best Ever Pies, a pile of recipe clippings slipped out of the front cover: Galdo’s Seafood Restaurant’s Pecan Crunch Pie, a recipe tested and appoved by the L.A. Times for a woman named Genelle who wrote the paper to request it, Strawberry Yogurt Pie, Key Lime Pie, Merle Ellis’ Old-Fashioned Crock Mincemeat, Lattice Apricot Pie, a one page spread for Chi Chi Wood’s Peach Pie, Irwin Street Inn Fresh Peach Muffins & Grainy Plum Muffins, Wonder Valley Dude Ranch Plum-Raspberry Butter, and Nectarine Vinegar, and Betsey Balsley’s Blood Orange Tart from the L.A. Times Magazine, January 29, 1989. Based on the font, I’m assuming the unattributed clippings are also from the L.A. Times.
A few of these recipes are now on my list of must-bakes. I’m talking to you, Galdo’s pie!! A few I know I’ll never try – mincemeat! But, I’ll keep these recipes inside my book for as long as the book is mine. I see this as a love-letter from a late-eighties recipe-clipper in L.A. Having gone to high school in So-Cal in the late eighties, I can say, I’m truly smitten.
It’s #worldbookday in the UK and Ireland, people. And it will be #worldbookday here in North America on April 23. I suggest, today, and again in April, you clip a recipe, print a photograph, or grab a scrap of paper and write a love letter, a poem, or a favouite quote, and slip it inside of a favourite book. Who knows who’ll find it there, eventually, and love you for it.
For more text-bombing ideas – not just for books, but EVERYWHERE, check out Linsday Zier-Vogel’s Love Lettering Project!