History Miscellaneous

Carolina Pie & What We Can All Learn from a Pie Maker

April 27, 2017

North Carolina is home to Carolina blue skies, but did you know it is also home to the Carolina Pie Company? If you live in North Carolina, the farthest the Carolina Pie Company could be from you is probably about six hours, and it’s even closer to some parts of Virginia and South Carolina.

If you are in this little trifecta of states, you may want to hop in your car and consider heading to the Carolina Pie Company to pick yourself up a tasty pie.  They have twelve to choose from and unless you have a serious aversion to pie, you cannot go wrong.  Seriously, I have tasted several, and haven’t found one yet I don’t like!

And, if you are doing some sort of fitness challenge (ahem – like me), just give yourself a little grace.  Pie eating contests are challenges too you know.  Just saying.  Or, just wait until the fitness challenge is over.

12 pies

I digress, but am I the only one who always thinks of Harold and the Purple Crayon at the first mention of the word ‘pie?’  After all,

“There was nothing but pie.  But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.  When Harold finished his picnic there was quite a lot left.  He hated to see so much delicious pie go to waste.  So Harold left a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.”

Harold and his pies

Sorry if I now make you think of Harold and his crayon every time you pick up a fork to eat a piece of pie!

Anyway, a fellow mom at preschool arranged an apple pie making class for our little ones this week at the Carolina Pie Company. Twelve children, aged four to five years of age, and a couple of younger siblings thrown in to make things more interesting.

They were all pleasantly led through the pie-making process by Steve, the owner.

Instruction Time for Pie Making

They learned how the apples are quickly cored, peeled and sliced and how the little pie crusts are formed and pressed into miniature tins.

Tiny Pie Crusts for Tiny Hands

After hearing about the ingredients and guessing successfully that apples are one of them, Steve let them loose with the ingredients, encouraging them to “pile it on” at each step.

And they did.

Apples Piled High for PieApple Crumb Pie Topping

More Apple Crumb Pie

While we all waited for their pies to cook, he put out dough and let them make cookies. Once again, he let them loose.

Pie Oven

Not once did he say, “Whoah!” or “That’s enough!”  Instead, he was heard saying, “Sure!” many times.  A couple of moms (including me) stopped the deluge of cinnamon pouring from the shaker.

I may have been too late.

Pie Cookie with Cinnamon

Steve did not discourage. He encouraged calmly and patiently, letting them create their own concoctions. Even though, full jars of cinnamon wasted away before our eyes.  Here is one of the poor cinnamon shaker carcasses, a mere exoskeleton of what it once was.

Cinnamon Jar Carcass - Pie Shop

When it was all done, they helped clean up and got the containers ready for their pies.

Pie Clean Up

Sometimes I cringe when I hear the Lego box dumping out onto the floor, or the basket of trains and tracks crashing as they are freed from their giant basket. I hesitate sometimes when the children ask to paint. My mind fast forwards to the messes and not to the invaluable creations that are waiting to be poured out of fingertips.

Tree by Liam

Splotch Art

I think it is some weird obsessive-compulsive trait that comes out when one becomes a mom.  I theorize it originates with germs and hand sanitizer and signs hung from car seats expressing for the child within, “No touching. Your germs are too big for me.”  (I know some child situations do need the sign, but some also don’t).

And, suddenly here we are, with thoughts of messes fast forwarding our minds to the gross devastation that will be left in the path of the children along with the resulting effort that will be required on our parts to right the ship – as if Hurricane Katrina herself is wreaking havoc in our space.

It isn’t always that bad.

I do the same thing with my children’s behaviors – immediately fast forwarding a decade and imagining the wall art left at the hand of my daughter begets spray-painted, bubble-letter graffiti on train cars in her teen years.  Or, that when I catch her for the second time under the table surrounded by candy wrappers and chewing a mouthful of starbursts, that it surely means I will get a call when she is 15 from a police officer explaining she has been arrested for shoplifting.

It is easy to see those ramblings of my imagination as irrational.  It is harder to convince yourself the tiny messes aren’t so terrible to clean up every time.  Kids are messy.  I think they are supposed to be that way.  But we do clean a lot.  Every single day.  And sometimes that OCD cringe, triggered by the Lego clatter or paint brushes, kicks in and speaks in a discouraging voice.

Paint Brushes

Then, begins the effort to quiet the voice and to think like Steve at the Carolina Pie Company and say,

“Sure!  Pile it on!” 

It isn’t easy to do, but in reality it is all good…(will you please remind me of that?). 😉

And, if it doesn’t work, we can always turn to pie, after all:

No Stress Pie Quote

Well, we took our pies home and devoured them.  As it turns out my daughter doesn’t really like apple pie, but somehow this is all that is left of her pie.  Perplexing!  Don’t tell Daniel at Burn Boot Camp!  Anyway, you don’t really have any proof.

Pie Crumbs

The History of Pie

Pie history runs farther back into time than one might think, given the adage, “As American as apple pie.”  After all, America has only been America for 241 years.

Pie actually harkens back to the ancient Egyptians, where pies were made in reeds.  The reeds merely held the pie filling and were not for eating.  According to the American Pie Council, Romans published the first pie recipe consisting of rye-crusted goat cheese and honey.

Pies appeared in England as early as the twelfth century and were predominantly meat encased in a crust called a “coffyn.”  Fruit pies date back to the 14th century.  Sugar was scarce and expensive and was not included as an ingredient in these early pies.  The coffyn was used to preserve the pie contents and was not intended to be eaten, much like the Egyptian and Roman pies.  The first actual recipe for apple pie was found in a cookbook compiled in 1390 by the master cooks of King Richard II.

Naturally, when settlers came to America, they brought the pie concept with them, baking them in long narrow pans calling them “coffins” like the crust that originated in England.  And, as with predecessor pies, early America pie ‘coffins’ were not eaten either.  During the American Revolution the term coffin left with the Redcoats and it was replaced with crust.

Today, we strive for the perfect combination of crust and filling for each and every bite.  And a fruit pie without sugar would be sacrilege.

Since the birth of America, pie varieties have multiplied significantly.  In 1796 three types of sweet pies were listed and by the 1800s there were eight varieties.  In 1947 65 different sweet pie varieties were listed in the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.  I imagine a few more have since been added.

So, while we say, “there are few things as American as apple pie,” remember the apple pie’s heritage is actually English.  But, if you take the perspective that pie was brought over when America was colonized it really doesn’t get anymore American than that!

Now, journey on over to the Carolina Pie Company and if it is too far for you find your local pie shop and show them some love!

xo, Melissa a.k.a. the mamabrain at mamabrains


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