A Damp But Delicious Day

More on the Pie of Hawley!

Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival (and Pie Extravaganza!)

sirewebWill Cosby won the Pie Contest with his Ginger Apple “Moose” Pie.

The Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie and Tart Extravaganza took place on a rainy day—but the dampness didn’t seem to affect anyone’s fun.
The pies arrived on time.

Our three judges (only two are pictured below; the other got lost in West Hawley and will show up in a later photo!) took their job very seriously and deliberated long and hard.

While the judging took place most of the crowd huddled indoors. A few brave souls ventured out to investigate Hawley’s lovely (if wet) scenery and history.

After the judging session lunch was served to an appreciative crowd of all ages.

The pie parade followed.

Musical director Alice Parker took the name “Alfred” for the day so she could enter the contest.

Some contestants entered more than one pie.

The musical entertainment staged a re-enactment of the first men’s pie…

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Pie Parade

The Pies!

The Pies!

A note on the judges – there was me, from Plimoth Plantation




There was Doris Cooper of Clarkson Potter Publishing



and the third judge was Darra Goldstein    of Williams College and Cured magazine


I’m pretty much listing  the pies as I found them on the tables…..This is all from my (incomplete) and rather hastily scribbled notes and there are a few smears…..pie judging is not for the dainty or the fainthearted.

I also didn’t write down who made what pie, which I didn’t know until the prizes were being given out. Several people made more then one pie.

There were several not quite pies….

  1. Cherry Claflouti – a batter, not a crust. This is not the actual entry, which was more attractive  …clafouti_august_2008
  2. Medieval Brie Tart – Yes – Medieval Brie , although the recipe was old, the ingredients were fresh. From To the King’s Taste by Lorna Sass.More on this in a later post  kings-taste-sass
  3. Apple Tart – this was a French Apple tart – rectangular and lovely. Crisp golden pastry…
  4. Corn and Zucchini quiche – This had an incredible Autumnal Yankee taste – first impression. I know, zukes and Yankees….but that is what my mouth told me. And now for the Pie Pies:
  5. Maple Walnut Pie – New England’s answer to Pecan Pie…..
  6. Smith Family Chocolate Pie – this was a cream pie with chocolate added. When I first looked at it, I almost thought it was pate – but the smell was wrong, and the label …. a good name makes ALL the difference sometimes!
  7. Chocolate Meringue Nut Surprise  – two chocolate pies! – This had a lovely meringue  and a chocolate custard base, as well as nuts. It wasn’t until the third taste that I found the surprise – BLUEBERRIES -Surprise! –  little tiny wild blueberries between the chocolate and the meringue. This is why you need THREE bites.
  8. Apple Butternut – sliced apples and diced butternut squash . Very traditional. For a long time apple and squash/pumpkin were sliced up together in pies.I’ll probably do another post on the apple/pumpkin connection, too.
  9. Apple Bread Pie – had quite a bit going for it- but a better name might be ‘Ginger Apple Bread Pie’ This was an apple pie with gingerbread spicing….but I was looking for the bready filling…

    Mardi Smith took these pictures and shared them on Facebook Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Two Crust Lemon pie – great crust and great lemon filling.


  10. Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Two Crust Lemon pie – great crust and great lemon filling.


    Shakers did 2 crust lemon pies….this is not the entry pie. Next contest – take a camera!

  11. Country Rumpkin –  Here are my bite reactions:
            1. This would be a great cocktail!
            2. Why ISN”T this a cocktail – a rum and pumpkin cocktail?
            3. This is one great Pumpkin Pie – and I swear it wasn’t the rum talking. I may put rum into all my pumpkin pie from here on out.Alice Parker thought with the rain there might not be enough pies, so she baked one, and dressed like a gentleman – Alfred Parker  – to abide by the rules. And she played the piano.


  12. Ginger Apple Moose Pie – The moose, to our great relief , was not the meat within, but the antler shapes cut out on top.

Will holding his prize winning pie –  golden, gorgeous, every element was above.


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How to Judge a Pie

Notes from a Fan

I try to be open minded in my real life, not judgmental – but when it comes to Pie….well, this is not my first pie judging. And there is a difference between the good, the very good and the sublime. I have yet to have bad homemade pie (commercial pie is a whole ‘nother world), but I am willing to keep tasting to risk it!

Pies have 2 parts – crust and filling. They are evaluated separately and then together.

There were 2 criteria – appearance and taste. I would add name as a criteria….because what you call it raises expectations, but can also be clarifying. And it has to deliver. Promise and delivery – that’s the name of the pie game.


Appearances Count!


Pastry Soapbox time: Pie dough, pie crust – whatever you call it, it should be golden, and browned and beautiful- not pale or wan. It needs to contribute to the whole – otherwise, put the filling in a greased casserole dish and call the whole thing pudding!

To quote Martha Stewart Living  magazine Nov 2016 p. 142


“With pies, color equals flavor: We can spot a pale, underbaked one a mile away! Look for deep golden-brown top and bottom crusts, and major bubbling action in the center.” *

*Fruit pie have the bubbling center action – other sorts of pie, not so much or not at all!

Without proper browning, the flour is pasty and the fat component is just greasy. Many pie recipes are far too timid  in the baking – start with a hot oven – you can turn it down in 10 or 15 minutes – and really build some color and depth of flavor.

Pale crust says ‘Not sublime’ And now back to judging criteria….

Slice – It doesn’t have to hold be perfect, but it has to hold promise. If it has a sloppy or runny filling, use a spoon to serve so we know that you know what’s going on. Spoons are more traditional!


1642 – Willem Claeszoon Heda 



Scent is part of the first taste – what does it promise?

A quick note about names….what you call it sets an expectation, too. And it should deliver. There was a chocolate cream pie that looked rather more like pate …a name label made a HUGE difference on my expectation!

Three tastes are necessary for judgment – the first impression; the second after your mouth knows what’s coming, the middle notes; the third for a lasting impression, the one you take away. Mouth feel, spicing, balance, texture, funny bits…all things to look for in taste.

First impressions are sometimes a surprise. That’s why you need a second taste (and maybe a bottle of water) to get a real grasp of what’s going on.

Memory – 5 minutes later….which are the pies you want to go back to? Was the flavor hit fleeting or lasting?


Because I was late to the Pie Contest in Hawley, the other judges had already begun. They had moved the tarts, quiche and clafuti into a separate category, so that we were judging pies against pies.

FYI – Every pie had a prize. Because I know how Tinky plans these things, I was pretty sure that there were as many prizes as pies. No one went home empty handed (even the judges got booty bags).



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is today, October 17th and I almost missed it.

Actually, ANY Day WITHOUT Pasta is a day I don’t have very often.

And I was raised to call it Macaroni.


in the plural.


This image from Wikipedia under ‘macaroni’ is labeled: “macaronis”

Sometimes Noodles…….noodles could be macaroni. Like lasagna noodles….

Pasta was something we didn’t talk about when I was young, back in the olden days….

We had Baked Macaroni and Cheese for Friday nights – and nothing out of  blue boxes then either.

We had Prince Macaroni on Wednesdays….princespaghettibridgeIt was called the Prince Macaroni Plant. The facility was sold in 2014 and now Prince Pasta is part of a mega conglomerate.This bridge was (is) in Lowell MA.


….or whatever brand of macaroni was on sale, although we an an awful lot of Mueller’s.


muellers-pastaAnd now, for my sad rather pathetic recent macaroni story. It starts with broccoli….

Brassica oleracea var. italica

Brassica oleracea var. italica – the broccoli I was looking at was even more lovely then this!

I saw a beautiful, lovely, absolutely GORGEOUS head of broccoli at the store. I had purchased some feta at the Farmer’s Market and I remembered a dish that was Feta, Broccoli and Rice  from Jeanne Lemlin’s  Quick  Vegetarian Pleasures that I had not made in far too long


This is soooo simple.

  1. Put the rice on to cook – I found the jar with rice, then a found another jar, with a little less rice….so I measured out the water, sauteed the rice, added the water and a little salt and set it up to boil.
  2. I rinsed and broke apart the broccoli into bite sized bits.
  3. I realized the original recipe called for tomatoes, choose to not use them, and got out some crushed hot pepper.
  4. I put some olive oil in a big saute pan, let it heat. Added the broccoli, stirred around, then added some water and put on the lid. The lid was the wrong lid – too small….couldn’t find the right lid. The water was evaporating too fast – add a little more water. Add the crushed red pepper and some salt – very little – there’s feta coming up – and stir around.
  5. Timer dings – rice is ready! Open the rice pot – the rice has swelled and there’s lots of water on top!….Did I use too much water? Why yes, I had – twice as much water as I needed. But the size, the shape….had I used the last of the orzo instead of the dregs of rice????
  6. Why yes, yes, I had! What NOW?????
  7. Drain the pasta – which had cooked for 20 minutes and if it hadn’t been orzo it might just be glop….
  8. Add the overcooked orzo to the broccoli, turn the heat up for a bit to get a little more saute action going….now the liquid is evaporating…..stir stir stir
  9. Add the crumbled feta, stir and adjust the seasonings – it actually needed a little more salt because the pasta was SOOO waterlogged.
  10. Serve and enjoy. On the plate and hot it was good. The next day for lunch, with a little more oil and vinegar, it was great pasta/broccoli/feta salad.
  11. New Rule – label ALL jars in the cupboard.
  12. Although this dish is very good with rice – Orzo would be even quicker.

These labels and a Sharpie now live in the cupboard. Everything gets a label.



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Judgement Day

No, not THAT Judgement day –

PIE Contest judging day!!!!!

THIS Pie contest


So much talent

Such mighty fine pies


Pie Parade – I’m bringing up the rear with Alice Parker’s pie, since she – as Alfred Parker, is playing the piano and didn’t have a hand free. Tinky is in the hat, singing like a bird.

Like any good pie, this story has more than one slice…..


Our car had a roof, so we were dry in the rain. And we had fall foliage. And no Brad Pitt.But we were driving towards PIE!

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice one – This year I did not go alone. Baker Tani wanted to go to taste pies, too. So early in the morning we left, driving out from coastal Plymouth to the Hills of Hawley. Three hours and Fall Foliage and maybe we got a little lost up the mountain later, we get there.There was also rain and Honey Dew coffee and Doughnuts and the Mohawk Trail and  Thelma and Louise-ishness. At least the part about 2 women on a road trip. Neither of us could remember much about the movie, just the image of  two women in a car, one with a scarf. And Brad Pitt.We remembered Brad Pitt.



pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 2 – The judging of pies

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 3 – Ham and Bean Community lunch

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 4 – The entertainment after lunch and before the winners were announced. This including the singing of the town song…..


There’s a certain Whos of Whoville  vibe about the town song

pie-lemon-merinque-slice Slice 5 – The Winners (there are no losers in PIE!) and the prizes

pie-lemon-merinque-sliceSlice 6 – The PIES


To be continued……..

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Make that #Oatober….someone at Quaker Oats is pretty genius.

Could it be this guy??


This is the first Quaker for Oats – trademarked in 1877. They’ve been working the genius marketing for a while.

And in 1891, Quaker put the first recipe on the back of the box – for Oatmeal Bread…A few years later Fannie Farmer had a Quaker Oats Bread in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Coincidence? I think not!


2 cups boiling water.
1/2 cup molasses.
1/2 tablespoon salt.
1/2 yeast cake dissolved in
1/2 cup lukewarm water.
1 cup Quaker Rolled Oats.
4 3/4 cups flour.

Add boiling water to oats and let stand one hour; add molasses, salt, dissolved yeast cake, and flour; let rise, beat thoroughly, turn into buttered bread pans, let rise again, and bake.

By using one-half cup less flour, the dough is better suited for biscuits, but, being soft, is difficult to handle.

To make shaping of biscuits easy, take up mixture by spoonfuls, drop into plate of flour, and have palms of hands well covered with flour before attempting to shape.

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook
By Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896)pp.59-60.

This makes a pretty dense loaf…and pretty is the wrong word, too. But it makes great toast. Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread is a lighter brighter oatmeal bread option.

My other oat adventure today was thanks to Martha Stewart.


Martha Stewart, probably kicking herself for not coming up with Oatober.

In the September issue of Martha Stewart Living she had a tip and recipe for quick cooking steel cut oats.


I eat oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every morning and have for years. I believe that oats truly brought my cholesterol levels down, down and fast, and frankly eating breakfast is pretty easy, pretty inexpensive and has far fewer side effects then most of those little pills…. not to mention more pleasant and easier to remember in the fog of morning. Oats are the base, the only choices I have to make are what to put in them. That choice I usually make at the market, and do the same breakie all week. Ah, blueberries and cinnamon! Oh, Parmesan and pepper!  Dropt egg and rooster sauce; cranberries and honey….The Gracious Pantry has some pretty inspired oatmeal toppings. Back to oats –

Steel cut out are nubbly and more textured then rolled outs.


Extreme closeup of rolled oats – the roller goes over them and they get very very thin



Steel cut oats – are chopped – chunky – chewy

Steel cut oats take longer to cook and are not zippy quick or mindless in the morning. I do not want to spend my dawn’s early light time at the stove stirring porridge.There’s always a slow cooker option, but then I’d be making lots, and have to repack to re-heat…not easier.


soak them the night before, and then 5-10 minutes in the pan – easy peasy! I made enough for one – so 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt in my littlest sauce pan and pop the lid on. It sat on the stove overnight, so was there to greet me when I put the coffee on, and after the first cup I remembered why it was there….


This look very much like my little yellow pot, which pretty much lives on top of my stove.It’s that kind of workhorse.

After the second cup, awake and ready to rejoin the world, I brought the oats and water and the pinch of salt to a boil. I then lowered the heat to a fairly active simmer and stirred it from time to time until the water was gone and it was just oaty goodness and no longer liquid. A tooth test – firm, some give, but not hard, not little pebbles. Done. Under 10 minutes, maybe 7 or 8.

Rolled oats take 5 minutes at 50% power in the microwave. The new directions on the box say 3 minutes at 100%, but this just make them pasty. Take the 2 extra minutes!

Martha eats her oatmeal with golden raisins and currants and a slash of low fat milk. Sweet and milky are not my cup of tea. I had some butter and a little cheddar cheese.

There is a really great oatmeal muffin recipe lurking in one of my cookbooks…apples or was it apple sauce? Fortunately, I have all of Oatober ahead of me to find it.


My Bowl of Oatmeal was not a movie…and I not on speaking terms with my breakie.


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Hare to today….



rabbits - 3 transferware cup Hancocks


hare today, gone tomorrow

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National Coffee Day


I went to the Coffee Club and heard very good discourse… ~Samuel Pepys, diary, 1660 January 17th

Coffee beans in the shape of a coffee cup. Stock Photo

Coffee beans in the shape of a coffee cup. Stock Photo

A fig for partridges and quails,
ye dainties I know nothing of ye;
But on the highest mount in Wales
Would choose in peace to drink my coffee.
~Jonathon Swift


      Chardin, Glass of Water and Coffee Pot, 1760, Carnegie Museum of Art


No coffee can be good in the mouth that does not first send a sweet offering of odor to the nostrils.

~Henry Ward Beecher


Coffee Pot -Pierre Auguste  Renoir

A cup of coffee — real coffee — home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all. ~Henry Ward Beecher



“There was a special Nolan idea about the coffee. It was their one great luxury. Mama made a big potful each morning and reheated it for dinner and supper and it got stronger as the day went on. It was an awful lot of water and very little coffee but mama put a lump of chicory in it which made it taste strong and bitter. Each one was allowed three cups a day with milk. Other times you could help yourself to a cup of black coffee anytime you felt like it. Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.

Neeley and Francie loved coffee but seldom drank it. Today, as usual, Neeley let his coffee stand black and ate his condensed milk spread on bread. He sipped a little of the black coffee for the sake of formality. Mama poured out Francie’s coffee and put milk in it, even though she knew that the child wouldn’t drink it. From time to time, she’d smell the bitter sweetness of it. That was better than drinking it. At the end of the meal, it went down the sink

Mama had two sister, Sissy and Evy, who came to the flat often. Every time they saw the coffee thrown away, they gave mama a lecture about wasting things.

Mama explained: “Francie is entitled to one cup each meal like the rest. If it makes her feel better to throw it away than to drink it, all right. I think it’s good that people like us can waste something once in a while and get the feeling of how it would be to have lots of money and not have to worry about scrounging.

This queer point of view satisfied mama and pleased Francie. It was one of the links between the ground-down poor and the wasteful rich.  The girl felt that even if she had less than anybody in Williamsburg somehow she had more.”


Popular Library ed. pp. 15-16

Harper edition published August 1943; 29 printings.



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It started, as myths often do, in the dim, misty long ago times. Summer was ending, the days still hot but the nights were cooling, and school was beckoning. There was a fire, a charcoal grill fire. This was long after we had invented BBQ Cheetos, and we stood around the fire and talked of how good, how very good, how very much better than ordinary were burgers and dogs on a charcoal grill, and how we would miss that goodness through the winter, and why couldn’t there be charcoal grilling all year round, why must fire end with summer??????

Why couldn’t we make a place where we could have a charcoal fire all year long, where the burgers and dogs always taste like fire and we would call that place:


And it was good.

And the story did not leave us with summer, but grew and changed and morphed over time.

When the youngest brother was still very young, we began to see him as the emblem of the Wallyburger,

the Wallyburger chef.

The story grew strong.

He would wear all white, like a superhero. A white cap and a white apron; white T shirt and white carpenter pants…..and as the story grew, the apron grew greasy. What was once shiny white became a little…less so.

Like Mel on Alice. Only more so.


A little more grease, a little more scruff…

And Wallyburger Chef would have a 3 day growth of beard, even though he was really 3 years old, and the whole hipster scruffy face thing was decades in the future.


He would have a cigarette hanging out one side of his mouth, with a long ash that was just about to fall……

But because the burgers and dogs were


The people would come  anyway, and pay any price. That good.



Time marching on

and years later, in front of the TV in the Ancestral Home, Dad gave the command.


That’s what Dad said as he was watched Phantom Gourmet.

phantom gourmet log

“The Walls should invade Wahlburgers

A little back story seems in order……

Dad – raised in Dorchester.


The Neponset River as it runs through Lower Mills – this is where Nana is from

Wahlbergs – from Dorchester.


Mark Wahlberg in Dorchester with reporter Lara Logan

Dad was a cop.

Donnie Wahlberg plays a cop in Blue Bloods


Will Estes and Donnie Wahlberg in Blue Bloods


And so the plans for invasion began….the problem was that as Wahlburgers was being built ( we couldn’t invade until they were actually there) the various reports had the location sometimes in Hingham – the actual location – and sometimes in Boston, easier to get to, but out of town speak for a place in Massachusetts that isn’t Cape Cod or the Berkshires…..


But Dad got sick right around the time that Wahlburgers opened in 2011, so he never got there.

This Spring, my Number One Son and his girlfriend and I all went to Hingham.


Jake knew the way because in a past job, he delivered the buns.Because Dorchester is all about the connections, even in generations removed.


The menu

I got the Thanksgiving Burger – natch.



For desert I got the Apple Empanada. We forgot to take picture until dessert time.Too busy eating.



it wasn’t quite an invasion.

It was a good meal with a leisurely drive to and fro.

And we discussed if Dad would have gotten an O.F.D. (Originally From Dorchester)  or a Triple Decker…(more properly called a ‘Tree Decka’ from what I remember in Dorchester-ese). And since my son didn’t know the


story….well. I guess that’s what this is for. Our family. Our story. Their burgers.

While the family is gathered round to remember and connect (and eat – eating is wonderful for the memory!)  we will not doubt be remembering  the Wallyburger chef. And Dad. XoX

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At The Fishhouses

painting by Elizabeth Bishop

At the Fishhouses

To the Editor:

I wonder what was in David Orr’s mind when he decided to close his column about Ben Lerner’s “The Hatred of Poetry” (On Poetry, Aug. 28) by lifting his closing paragraph, practically word for word, from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “At the Fishhouses.” He does Bishop’s gorgeously lyrical poem a huge disservice by pretending to pass it off as his own prose, which of course Bishop would have never approved, and neither do I.



Well, well, well, Mr Orr.


Fie and for shame

Fie and for double shame

At the Fishhouses

“At the Fishhouses” from The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop. © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. http://www.fsgbooks.com
Source: The Complete Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1983)
Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 – October 6, 1979) was an American poet and short-story writer. She was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1949 to 1950, the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956,[1] the National Book Award winner in 1970, and the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976.
Now I must squeeze in a library visit to read more of her work.(wiki)
And her correspondence with Robert Lowell.
And look at her paintings.

Thank-you, Mr Lopresti, for bringing this wonderful artist to my attention.

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