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Linda's Thoughts & Life

Good… Better… Best Pie!

Good… Better… Best Pie!

Terry, a former colleague, friend, and fellow ardent pie lover and I could talk hours about pie. We talked everything pie; cream pies vs. fruit – canned cherries vs. fresh, crumb topping vs. lattice, meringue or not, and on and on… He was not very picky about his pies, which is where we disagreed immensely. My thoughts were, and have been to this day, if a pie isn’t amazing, than I am not interested in having any. His thoughts were, a pie is pie, is a pie. He believed there to be only two kinds of pie; good pie and better pie! This always made me smile and it probably does have some validity to many. However, I will maintain for the rest of my years that the only pie worth eating is the BEST pie!

 I remember quite distinctly when I decided on this superior pie creed school of thought. I was at my Grandpa’s farm for a family Sunday dinner when I was about 10 or 12 years old. I barely ate anything savory back then, as my sweet tooth was in full swing and hadn’t developed my savory taste buds yet. My mother was a wonderful pie baker and always made deliciously perfect pies with flaky crusts and delicious fillings. My aunts and other Grandma were all superb pie bakers as well, so all I had ever known is the BEST pies. As the Sunday dinner progressed, I soon realized that my Step-Grandma was not blessed with any pie baking talents at all; not a one. Bless her sweet heart.

 My Grandma had made two custard pies for dessert and I thought about nothing but them throughout dinner. My mother made custard pies and I enjoyed them wholeheartedly, as I loved their “nutmeggie” creaminess! I passed through dinner with no one really noticing I ate only rolls with honey and applesauce, in anticipation of that coveted pie. Dinner finally ended and I got up quickly to aid my Grandma with serving the pies, as I was so excited to see them, and eat them. However, my face of pie-lust quickly turned to on of pie-horror when she tried slicing her pies. When the knife hit the thin golden skin of the top of the pie, a warm, cream-color clotted liquid ran all over the counter, while the crust fell in like a fallen tent. This was clearly not the pie I had been accustomed to my entire young life.

 Those family members (with my friend Terry’s view on pie) ladled the pie into bowls and ate it like ice cream. I, however; left the farm hungry, completely disappointed, but much, much wiser.

 That Sunday dinner changed my view forever that all pies are not created equal. Actually, as I reflect back, I am quite certain that that runny custard pie probably led me to my destiny, to make the BEST pie I know how to make. It is why I have a pie shop, ship pies, give baking classes, and perform pie demos across the country. I want to share what I have learned to ensure no one settles for a good pie, or even a better pie. As I want everyone to have only the BEST pie. I have always said, if I can make a pie close to as good as your favorite pie baker, then I have done my job.

 Eat the BEST pie and love life! xoxolinda

Cookbooks...

Cookbooks...

Since I was a little girl, I have always adored cookbooks. While growing up, my twin sister would be entranced by Nancy Drew mysteries, while I was completely enchanted by Better Crocker Junior cookbooks.  

My dear mother has a huge assortment of cookbooks, which is where I got the fever as I grew up, perusing and studying her treasured culinary collection. As a young woman, I started collecting them as well, picking them up at antique stores, garage sales and such. Like old rolling pins, I have a hard time passing them up, for to me, old cookbooks need a good home where they can be appreciated and revered.  

I believe all books to be timeless and romantic, but especially cookbooks, for they leave behind delicious memories of favorite pies, cookies, casseroles and the lives they affected. I love to imagine a war bride baking her first pie from her brand new bridal shower cookbook, for her brave husband finally home from WWII. I love to imagine her bringing him a piece of her masterpiece pie, as they both share a moment of pride and gratitude. I love to think of a fifties housewife, dressed in a darling dress with pearls and heels, drinking coffee with her neighbors, exchanging recipes from the newest Betty Crocker cookbook!  

To me, my favorite vintage cookbooks are much more than words, measurements and photographs. They are torn-paged testaments to a home-centered lifestyle, rich in history; reflecting love and comfort through each and every recipe.  

My wish for "Sweetie-licious Pies" is to be a favorite of yours, a staple in your kitchen; to someday be worn and food stained from decades of lovingly prepared delicious memories. I have great faith that with this simple notion, we all will be “setting the table” to change the world one pie at a time! 

Eat pie, love life! xoxoxo Linda

 

Rolling Pins

Rolling Pins

I love a good rolling pin, especially old ones that have seen many a pie crust in their day. I have had a dear collection of rolling pins throughout my baking career, most of which are scattered around my pie shop. Throughout the years,  I would pick them up at second hand stores for a few dollars, mainly because I couldn’t bear to see them forgotten by the masses.  

I love thinking of their former owners.  I believe them all to be expert pie bakers, generally because of the patina of the wood and the worn colors on the handles. Clearly, given the condition, they either tried for years making a good pie or simply made good pie for years. I am sure it is the later. I am also convinced that these pins were the magic wands of our “foremother” pie bakers, the ones that knew the truth in a flaky pie crust and the honesty in a velvet pie filling.  Much like a musician needs to be “as one” with their instrument, a pie baker needs to be “as one” with their pin.  

My favorite pin is a sentimental favorite, as it was my lovely mother’s. She received it for a wedding gift some 56 years ago. She used it for years and years pumping out hundreds of delicious and unforgettable pies. Her rolling pin certainly left more than a glance of an impression on me. While growing up, when I saw the pin on the kitchen counter, it was truly time to rejoice, for I knew a pie was to be enjoyed in my near future. When I married 25 years ago, my mother handed down her beloved rolling pin to me. I happily honed my pie baking skills with my dear rolling pin, as a new wife, as my children grew and then at my dreamy pie shop. 

 I loved rolling pie dough with my heirloom rolling pin. Unfortunately, after 56 years and thousands and thousands of pie crusts, its bearings have finally worn out. :(   My dear pin has clearly earned its time to rest and its special place of honor at home. It sits humbly on my kitchen shelf, admired and respected for its wondrous body of work and its tireless contribution of… changing the world one pie at a time! :)

Eat pie, love life,  xoxolinda

To Can…

To Can…

Oh, to can or not to can? Without fail, each year the thought of canning seems a bit overwhelming to me. Make no mistake; canning is clearly tedious work and probably a tiny bit old-fashioned for some. However, there is no comparison to the fresh flavor and self gratification of canning your very own.

I remember my mother “putting up” quarts of peaches, pickles, tomatoes and jams every year, as did my Aunt Margie and Grandma Ferrell. While visiting my grandmother I remember going down to the cellar to bring up jam for breakfast with both excitement and anxiousness. For a little girl, the cellar was indeed a damp, dark and scary place. However, once the light was turned on, my heart was happy, as I remember shelves of colorful jars of fruits, vegetables and jams aligned perfectly, showcasing their bountiful, ordered beauty. For my elder homemakers, the full pantry was not only a sense of pride and order, but also a true sense of security. For during their time, canning was a necessity to get though the poor, long Depression winters.

After buying our farmette some 15 years ago, I found myself in a “canningpolooza” quite suddenly. For the tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, raspberries, peach and apple trees are not patient fruits and vegetables. For when they are ripe and ready, so must you be. It was an adjustment to find time for it all at first, but something I had looked forward doing since watching my mother can so long ago. As years passed, it became as part of my summer traditions as planting flowers and going up north. In fact, I often canned on our week family vacation on Lake Louise! My family loved my homemade jars of joy to eat and to give away as special gifts.

My pantry isn’t as bursting as it once was, as my time at the shop keeps me from “putting up” as much as I used to.  However, I am thrilled to say, that for the first time since my farm market days, I am selling my delicious herb-infused jams on-line and eventually at the store.  

As for the question, to can, or not to can, my sentimental message is clear, I urge all “to can”. For the contentment of carrying on an American tradition, along with the pride and joy that canning evokes is truly priceless.  

Xoxo Linda   – -Eat pie, can and keep traditions.

*The charming pantry picture enclosed is of my webmaster Gail’s ” jars of joyfulness”!

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Linda's Favorites

Summer 2015

I am looking out my west window as I write this and watching the wheat fields blow lovely patterns in its vast green mass. The summer wind is robust today as the tree limbs bend over. Most definitely one of my most favorite summer things are warm, sunny, breezy days, and large open farm fields perfectly aligned with some vibrant green crop.

Favorite Summer Foods --Ice Cold Watermelon, Grilled Blackened Michigan Whitefish, Grilled Michigan Sweet Corn, Sliced Fresh Michigan Tomatoes, Old Fashioned Potato Salad, Fresh Michigan Peaches – Cold or Grilled w Orange Honey, Homemade Vanilla Custard ice Cream,Summer Pies - Strawberry Cream & Rhubarb & Blueberry & Peach, and Strawberry Shortcake 

Favorite Summer Movies --

A Summer Place – Beautiful people, classic 1950’s drama

Stand By Me – Boys of summer in the fifties, simple yet deep story

Gidget movies – Adorable, innocent Sandra Dee and fifties fashion!

Elvis Beach movies – Fun and over the top with…Elvis!

The Sandlot – Summer neighborhood boys playing baseball in the 1960’s

The Parent Trap – So Disney – summer camp and cutie-pie Hayley Mills! 

Favorite Summer Songs --

Summer Wind – Frank Sinatra

All Summer Long – Kid Rock

Boys of Summer – Don Henley

Summer Nights – John Travolta, Olivia Newton John

Summer Breeze – Seals& Croft 

Favorite Summer Pastimes -- Parades, Bike rides with my whole family, Picnics, Beaches, Campfires, Outdoor Flea Markets and Antique Shows, Gardening, Naps in the Hammock, Evening Sunsets, My Feet Cooling in a Lake or Pool, Reading on my Front Porch Swing, Riding around in my old VW Bug Convertible.

About Linda

Linda Hundt is the…

True believer that delicious memories make the world a more meaningful, joyous and loving place.

Proprietor of the cutest pie shop in the whole world, Sweetie-licious Bakery Café, DeWitt, MI.  

Winner of the 2009 Crisco National Pie Championship Best of Show/Food Network Pie Challenge…dreams really do come true!

Mother two charming and beautiful college student daughters.

Winner of 15 first place awards at the Crisco National Pie Championship, including the Crisco 100th. Anniversary Innovation Award.

Wife of an equally charming and beautiful husband of over 25 years.

Daughter of adorable and happy parents, – My mommy is my cooking and baking mentor and certainly one of the original Pie Queens.

Sister to three, sweet , older brothers,  fraternal twin to a lovely, lovely sister.

Friend to many amazing and true friends.

Part-time home-keeper of our little family’s lovely, century old “farmette.”

Pie baker that believes that loving people and making great pie is her mission in life.

Luckiest girl in the world.

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