you have to see this!


Today I’m baking a this-movie-is-so-good-you-have-to-see-it pie.

Honestly, my love for “Waitress” is so big, it can’t fit into just one pie of a post.

Remember that diner scene in “Michael,” where John Travolta and Andie MacDowell are eating their way through an entire table of pies? I thought that was the best pie scene in cinema, until I saw this sweet, unpretentious, quirky, funny and poignant slice-of-pie set in a small Southern town. It really hit the spot, as good indies tend to do. There’s no big flash or flair, but oh, how the characters shine. 

The story centers around Jenna (played by Keri Russell), a pregnant genius pie maker/waitress stuck in an unhappy marriage. She works at Joe’s Pie Diner with grumpy manager Cal, shy and insecure Dawn, and been-around-the-block a few times Becky. Jenna’s husband, Earl, is controlling, abusive, obnoxious, and basically insecure to the nth degree. No wonder Jenna finds refuge in making pies. 

She totally resents her pregnancy, because it’s one more obstacle in her quest to get away from Earl. But she is strangely attracted to her obstetrician, Dr. Pomatter, an odd duck who falls in rapture after sampling her Peachy Keen Tarts. Their affair is comical yet tender. Jenna becomes addicted to “saying things and having them matter to someone,” just as finding out how she reconciles her anti-maternal feelings, deals with Earl and Dr. Pomatter, and finally revs up her mettle, ultimately matters to us.

Adrienne Shelly, who plays Dawn, also wrote and directed “Waitress.” Pregnant at the time, fearful of how her life would drastically change, she began writing a letter to her unborn baby, which sparked an idea for a screenplay. The film is even more poignant since Shelly was senselessly murdered just before it was released. Her daughter, Sophie, appears in the final scene. “Waitress” has drawn wide acclaim, earning five awards and three nominations. It was selected for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2008 Chlotrudis Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast.

And did I mention the pies? They go way beyond mere sensual decoration, though you’ll love gazing at all the dark chocolate, berries, custards, creams and marshmallows. The pies are a narration of Jenna’s inner thoughts — fascinating manifestations of love, frustration, anger, sadness, and friendship. By the story’s end, you will be craving some of Jenna’s Lonely Chicago Pie, Naughty Pumpkin Pie, or her special Strawberry Chocolate Oasis Pie. On a bad day, you will wish for a big bite of her Baby Screaming in the Middle of the Night and Ruining My Life Pie.

Superbly written, well acted and directed, “Waitress” examines the choices people make, the consequences, and the inestimable value of friendship.

So, what are you waiting for? Get thee to Netflix now!

*These Amazon movie trailers will whet your appetite.

                 “Baby don’t cry, baby don’t cry, gonna make a pie
                                 with a heart in the middle . . .”

blueberry bonanza

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!

That’s the lovely sound of blueberries hitting the bottom of Little Sal’s tin pail. 

The other day, I opened this delicious classic for the first time in eons. I had forgotten about how wonderful Robert McCloskey’s illustrations were, all done in dark blue ink. The double page spread displayed on the endpapers is stunning, showing Little Sal standing on a chair playing with rubber canning seals, her mom pouring cooked blueberries into jars, the Hoosier cabinet with a drawer and door open, and of course, the cast iron stove. You can just feel that fresh breeze drifting in through the open windows.

And what a sweet, gentle story — Sal and her mother go blueberry picking, but Sal never fills her pail because she keeps eating the berries as they go along. On the other side of the hill, a mother bear and cub are fattening up for the winter on blueberries. Sal and Little Bear fall behind and eventually trail after the wrong mothers.

Blueberries are a staple in our house all year round. They are one of the reasons I’d like to live in Maine. The best blueberry pie I’ve ever eaten, hands down, came from the Red Fox Tavern in Middleburg, Virginia. It was made from a bounty of small, incredibly sweet wild Maine blueberries. It’s been over 10 years, and I’m still thinking about that piece of pie.So, for all you fellow blueberry lovers, here are three wonderful recipes – classic blueberry pie (compliments of Violet Beauregarde of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), blueberry cream cheese pie, and a simple blueberry cobbler. I’ll take my blueberries any way I can, and I love showing off my blue tongue!



Pastry for one 2-crust 9-inch pie
4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt

Place berries in a bowl. Drizzle them with lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to distribute. Pour the berries into a 9-inch pie pan layered with a bottom crust rolled 3/8 inch thick. Position top crust, crimp edges together, and trim. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 50 minutes. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

~ from The Book Lover’s Cookbook (Ballantine Books, 2003)


1 prebaked 9-inch pie crust
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 8-oz container whipping cream
1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix cream cheese until soft, add sugar and vanilla. Stir well.
Fold mixture into stiffly whipped cream.
Pour into baked pie shell, top with pie filling and chill.


Here is the easiest one of all; takes only about 10 minutes to prepare for baking.


2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, if desired
2/3 cup skim milk
2 T butter or margarine, melted
2 cups blueberries, cleaned and washed

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, and mix the batter until it is smooth.

2. Pour the melted butter into a 1 or 1-1/2 quart casserole-type baking dish. Pour in the batter, and sprinkle the blueberries on top.

3. Bake the cobbler in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until it is lightly browned. Spoon out the cobbler onto individual dishes to serve.

~ from Jane Brody’s Good Food Cookbook (Bantam, 1985)


test your pie geography!


This month I’ve been reading American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads by Pascale Le Draoulec (HarperCollins, 2002).

Pascale is a journalist and food critic for the New York Daily News. She decided to follow the holy grail of pie, driving along back roads from San Francisco to New York, sniffing out recipes, pie makers, and pie lore. Pie is the quintessential American dessert, and every state has its signature pie. I loved meeting the characters Pascale met on her odyssey, for pie is an emotional topic laden with memories. She discovered that no matter where she went, people liked to talk pie.


How well do you know America’s pie map? Match up these states with the pies they are famous for:


Rhode Island
New York

 PIES (some are specialties of more than one state)

Meat Pasty
Funeral Pie
Key Lime
Sweet Potato

1. Maine: blueberry
2. Georgia: peach
3. Delaware: pumpkin
4. Ohio: funeral pie
5. Mississippi: sweet potato
6. Florida: key lime
7. Washington: apple
8. Rhode Island: rhubarb
9. New York: apple
10. Oklahoma: pecan
11. Michigan: cherry
12. Pennsylvania: shoofly
13. Wisconsin: meat pasty
14. Oregon: blackberry
15. California: empanada, strawberry


All 15 correct — Pie Expert (reward yourself with an extra piece)!
10-14 — Pie Lover (keep eatin’)
5-9 — Humble Pie (better get out more)
Less than 5 — Pie thrower (better duck)


What is your state’s signature pie? Any others that I haven’t mentioned here?

a baker’s dozen of upper crust pie picture books

Today we’re dishing up some picture book pies just in case you’ve got any hungry ankle-biters or restless munchkins hanging around.

There’s certainly no shortage of lovingly baked pie books cooling on library shelves, and I sampled as many as I could. When it’s too hot to play outside, invite the little ones to stick their fingers into these cool offerings. They’ll be left pie-eyed with wonder.


1. The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, pictures by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster, 2007). A cumulative tale featuring a loving father and daughter, showing how the wonders of nature play a role in creating the end product. With three-color folk art illustrations remniscent of Wanda Gag and Lois Lenski. See these brilliant reviews by Fuse 8 and Jules of 7-Imp for more details.

2. The President and Mom’s Apple Pie by Michael Garland (Dutton, 2002). President William Howard Taft, a man of substantial girth, visits small town America in 1909. After stepping off the train, he smells something positively delicious in the air. His nose leads him to some mighty fine grub before discovering Mom’s culinary masterpiece cooling on the window sill. Exuberant illustrations carry the reader through the fun and excitement of the day.

Lots more pie!

what kind of pie are you?

You Are Lemon Meringue Pie

You’re the perfect combo of sassy and sweet.

You always know how to brighten someone’s mood, but you’re not overly sappy.

In fact, you can be a bit too honest at times. And most people find that refreshing.

While you’re always true to yourself, you keep things light. That’s how people are able to stomach your slightly bitter outlook.

Those who like you have well refined tastes.

You’re complicated – and let’s face it – a true enigma.

You enjoy defying expectations, and there are many layers to your personality.

There’s not one easy way to define you.