After taking last year off, the pie party returned triumphantly to celebrate its fifth year. I thought that was a pretty big deal and wanted to make buttons to commemorate the occasion, but as usual I got side-tracked and Henry failed to build me a button-making factory, or at the very least, produce a button maker for me. I might still do it though. BUTTONS FOR EVERYONE.
You can wear it next to your Poor Henry button.
We didn’t get our usual pavilion, and at first I was sad about that but this one ended up being better. It was smaller, but when you figure people are coming and going all afternoon, plus all the kids are on the playground, we don’t really need all the space that our usual pavilion offers. So I only cried about it for a few minutes and then moved on with my day.
When we arrived at the park on Sunday, there was a family already there, making themselves at home. The dad was grilling next to the pavilion while the mom was pushing the kids on the swings. How quaint! Now get the fuck out. We rolled up and started pulling all of our shit out of the car and piling it on the tables, so the dad was like, “OK, I see where this is going” and moved all of their darling picnic accessories out of the pavilion and to a picnic table down by the playground. It’s a free country, so we let them nervously eat their All American lunch while Chooch slowly swung himself on a swing across from them, wearing a hoodie and black sunglasses and looking like he probably had a switchblade in his pocket.
When Robbie and his girlfriend Nikki arrived with their adorable and ridiculously delicious black raspberry cream cheese jalapeno mini-pies, Nikki said that she was making a sign for them but Robbie stopped her and said, “Erin will have signs there, trust me.” AND DID I. I found my Pie Party 5 notes after the fact and forget that I had originally wanted to carve the pie names into apples (lol) but instead I printed out mini versions of my Cherry’s Eyes painting, which had become the unofficial logo of this year’s party, and then I taped them to colorful mini Popsicle sticks. HELPFUL HINT: those things bled into the pies. It’s been three days though and I’m still alive. Hopefully you are, too.
For our “outside the box” pie entry, Henry made sweet potato whoopie pies with maple marshmallow buttercream. They were OK. He could definitely work on some gentler assemblage, that’s for sure. Also, he almost didn’t make them.
Everyone was like, “What makes this Romanian?” and I was like, “It’s great at gymnastics? I don’t know! Ask a gypsy!” It’s no secret (lol) that I’m obsessed with Romania so I knew I needed something at the pie party to represent my inexplicable affinity.
Our third representation was a rosemary pear pie with cheddar crust. I don’t think I liked it but I can’t remember.
I was about to brag about blowing up the P I E balloons but then I remembered that it was actually Chooch, being helpful for once. So never mind. I strung them up, though!
Since this is our fifth tango with pie worshiping, you might think that we have the wrinkles all ironed out. And surprisingly, you would be mostly correct! I have learned from my mistakes, that’s for sure.
One big mistake I usually make every year is asking someone to come early to help me decorate. This never works. No matter what, said person (usually Janna) doesn’t arrive until an hour after the party starts so instead of just doing it myself, I’m “just doing it myself” while also being extremely bitter and angry. This year I only planned as much as I could handle on my own, and it worked out well. I finished decorating and laying out my succulents with little to no sweat dotting my brows like salt-buttons and I was still in a relatively OK mood by the time I finished!
(There was one minor explosion, and that was when the staple gun ran out of staples and I assumed there were no more staples so I started Hulking around in a fury until Henry calmly filled the staple gun with more staples because, would you look at that, he came prepared for once!)
Another is relying too much on my phone to take pictures. This year, Henry conveniently left my portable charger thing at home so my phone was pretty much at 5% all afternoon, leaving me no choice but to use my actual camera. (And we even remembered to charge the battery!) I made a pointed effort to play around with the settings before anyone arrived to compensate for the frustrating pavilion lighting. #fauxtographer
Probably the biggest mistake I made the last time was being too ambitious, and by that I mean I put too much on Henry’s plate, baking-wise, and he was one angry motherfucker. I had him make two pies, two different types of mini-pies, three different types of pie pops, and apple pie flavored popcorn. Because it was the fourth pie party and I wanted him to do pie four ways. Get it?
It was a pretty big fail. We were both so stressed out and tired that we could barely enjoy ourselves at the party. It always starts out as such a fun idea when it’s in my head! I love the planning stages, but when it’s time to start making it a tangible thing, it’s like TEARS MURDER BLOOD HEAR TATTACK.
This year, I went easy on Henry, and myself. I mean, yeah, I still gave him three things to make and when I came home from a haunted trail at 9:30 on Pie Party Eve and noticed that Henry hadn’t made the whoopie pies in my absence, I might have raised the roof a bit, and not because I was dancing to old school R&B jams. I never pass up an opportunity to remind Henry that my fingernails are deep in his balls, so he got to bakin’.
I made that bunting myself. I really hate crafting.
The key to proficiently pork out on pie is PORTION. I like to fill a plate with thin slivers of many types of pie so that it essentially equals one slice. That way I get to hopefully sample everything. LOL, who am I kidding? There are no rules. Just grab a plate and stuff your face and do your best to convince yourself that you’re not going to feel like you’re in gastro hell later.
This year, we had several savory pies! Kelly brought a taco pie, Patty brought two zucchini pies, and Elizabeth cooked up a vegetarian chili pie—major hat tip to her for that one. It was wonderful and helped me avoid an early sugar crash. Sandy brought not-pie which consisted of a veggie platter and chips. Salt is such a great counterbalance to pie! Especially when most of us were foregoing lunch in favor of turning our bodies into pie trashcans.
Amber1 made a delightful S’mores pie which I have never had before and it was a big hit! Gayle brought apple pie, apple donuts, and apple cider from the Apple Castle apple festival! She’s still sucking up to me for MISSING MY BIRTHDAY. (Her self-assigned penance has been to give me an unbirthday gift every 30th since July. This arrangement has been working out well for me.) Kara brought a shoofly pie that she bought from a real Amish man at a farmer’s market last Friday and I didn’t manage to snag a piece! I hate myself.
We had pumpkin pie, an apple pie pizza from Rob, French silk, chocolate peanut butter, pecan, pistachio pie, Angie’s ricotta pie (light and lemony!)…so many pies.
Carnage of Crust.
But! If I had to play favorites, there are two that make me salivate just at the sheer thought, and those are Chris and Monica’s ground cherry pie and Maggie’s cherry pie. Two completely different, totally winning cherry pies.
I may have mentioned to Maggie a few weeks ago that cherry pie is the most under-represented pie in pie parties of yesteryear, and it’s also my favorite type of fruit pie. I got Gayle to cut me a piece because right place, right time, and I was really happy to find that it was still warm! It was perfection. Not too tart and the crust was all buttery and grandma-approved. When Maggie told me it was her first attempt at a cherry pie, I was like STFU liar! But no, it’s true: Maggie was a powerful pie princess in a past life who heroically brought war-torn countries together with her baking prowess. So my only question is why doesn’t she bake us for us at work more often?!
And Chris and Monica’s ground cherry pie, good lord. Have you ever had a ground cherry? I only first heard of them last summer when one of my co-workers brought some in from the farmers market and said to me, “I heard you like weird fruit.” And how! So, ground cherries are yellowish-green and bigger than an average blueberry but smaller than a grape. They’re wrapped individually in husks and have a very mild flavor. At first, I was like, “These ground cherries are bomb!” But then I started to taste something familiar in them and it eventually dawned on me that they had a faint tomato flavor. I’m not a big fan of tomatoes on their own so I started to feel turned off by these not-cherries.
Until Chronica turned them into a sweet ass, bitchin’ pie. AND THE RECIPE WAS MENNONITE! I was so stoked to have Mennonite shit AND Amish shit at my pie party! You guys know how open-minded I am about that stuff. If you ever see Chronica, give them a high five for ground cherry skills.
The pie table is always completely jacked by the end of the day. I was bitching to Henry about how nice and pretty it looks until everyone starts plopping their pies down and then we forget to bring the little rustic buckets I use to put the forks in, so there’s an ugly bag of plastic forks junking shit up, and then Henry doesn’t care about paper plate aesthetics and brought leftover Halloween plates and super ugly, generic white plates with an ugly blue design that completely clashed with the autumnal tones of the burlap, leaves, and pie stands, but no! No, I’m not going to get all stressed out over this. I’m going to hand Sandy an ugly plate when we run out of the others and make some tight-lipped comment about how Henry ruins everything and then I’m going to move on from that moment of rage and instead of storming off into the woods and punching a tree until bark is protruding from my knuckles, I’m going to have another piece of pie.
OR IS IT PEACE OF PIE.