Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Week Pie Cookoff

I visited the Northaven Gardens Pie Contest, even tho' I didn't have a pie entered. I was sitting in on the class about growing fruit trees in Texas (more on that later). I blame that contest for getting me in the mood to cook pies - which I hadn't done in years. So I decided to try the pie mixes I had purchased a few weeks earlier at Plano's Jr. League 'Neath the Wreath bazaar, and took them to Port Aransas for our Thanksgiving vacation. Made by Easy As Pie, in Hearne, Texas, they are packaged in delightful little gunnysacks tied up with tags that contain the ingredients and directions.

With intriguing names like "Pineapple Upside-Down Pie" and "Dixie Delicious Pie", I had purchased four flavors: "Chocolate Puddle", Cherry Crumble", "Praline", and "Sugar Daddy". All required a frozen pie shell (one of the tags recommended Mrs. Smith's Deep Dish Pie Crust) and 1/2 c. butter; three mixes also required eggs; one required vanilla; and one called for a can of pie cherries.

Sister, who is quite an afficionado of undercooked brownies, loved the Chocolate Puddle pie, as did niece Katy (also 14), but it didn't grab me. Great chocolate flavor, but we served it at room temperature and it might have had more appeal warmed. The Sugar Daddy Pie was a hit with everyone - think of way over-sugared oatmeal cookies baked in a pie - pure sugar rush. Also a hit - and nephew Kenny stood guard over the last piece - was the Praline Pie, a combination of butterscotch chips and pecan pieces. I confess that my least favorite may have been that due to my own error, the Cherry Crumble Pie Mix called for a can of pie cherries - and I now realize that I purchased cherry pie filling. My main complaint had been that it was too starchy - well that explains everything. The crumble was actually delicious, it completely covered the top and contained oatmeal for crunch.

Ease of preparation? Well this cooking slacker would give them an 11 (out of 10) on the easy scale, each one took 5 minutes or less, plus cooking time. If you too can microwave butter, you'll agree. What's not as easy, is ordering two of the above four - the website doesn't list the Cherry Crumble mix nor the Praline mix. But I called, and they still have it in stock, per their instructions, you can place an order for another mix and include in the comments that you want to make a substitution for either of the unlisted mixes. Or you can call them directly and place your order over the phone, (979) 279-2607.

Each mix on the internet costs $8.95 each (plus a flat $6 for shipping). But check their website for monthly specials, in December you can get 25% off orders of $85 or more, so I'm re-stocking to put into friends stockings this year. Holiday Tip #3: These would make fabulous little hostess gifts if you're going to any dinners or parties this season.

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