Pie 19.0-19.2

On Thanksgiving eve I was missing my sisters as I planned to bake Pie 19.0, so we all made the same pie in our distant kitchens! In New York, Pie 19.1 was whipped up. In North Carolina, Pie 19.2 was crafted. In the end, we made very similar pies with slight variations. Like sisters, our pies are clearly related, but not precisely the same–due to differences in experience, mood, “help,” and other life demands.

Pie 19.0 was a banana cream concoction named “Banana Cream Daydream Pie” from page 111 of the SUGAR BUTTER FLOUR cookbook. As noted in a previous post, in my kitchen Pie 19.0 and Pie 18.0 were concocted simultaneously.

The recipe called for a blind baked pie crust, but we all made a vanilla wafer crumb crust instead.


The filling was cooked to yummy thickness on the stove. Yes, we licked the pan.


Toffee bits and sliced bananas got layered on the crumb crust before adding the delicious pudding layer. The filled pie chilled for hours in the fridge before I whipped the cream for the top.


I whipped the topping with my mixer. See the lemon, pastry brush, and the green lemon squeezer beside the banana in the picture? I brushed fresh lemon juice on the banana slices for the top to keep them from browning.


In a kitchen in NY, my sister used a whisk to whip the cream. Somehow she churned butter instead.


Here is Pie 19.0, made by me in SC. I brought this beauty to a Thanksgiving dessert and my neighborhood pie-eaters scarfed it up.


Here is Pie 19.1, made by my sister in NY (the one who made the butter instead of whipped cream…looks like Reddi-wip!) Notice that her countertop is the same as mine!


Here is Pie 19.2 made by my sister in NC. My, such a dainty crust.


Next weekend I’ll make Pie 20.0 for a Christmas party!



My first children’s book is available in time for Christmas!

I LIKE TREES LIKE THESE is full of glorious images and playful verse to delight young readers and old tree-huggers (like you and me).


Published by LMNO Press and available on Amazon.

P.S. If your initials are S.D. or J.M., check your mailbox for your absolutely-hot-off-the-press first-edition-ever copy. It is printing right this minute and on the way!

Hug a tree

I LIKE TREES LIKE THESE is a book from my heart to the hearts of children about the simple beauty and pure necessity of trees.

I’ve been taking pictures of trees for years while this book, inspired by Hope Jahren’s LAB GIRL, percolated in my head. I asked my granddaughter which children’s book I should publish first–the rhyming one or the one about trees–and she didn’t even hesitate. She said, “The tree one, Grammy.”

This is a surprise for Grace and her siblings for Christmas so DO NOT show her this cover. Now you can buy a copy for your own grandchildren! buy a copy here


The beautiful man on the cover is Christopher Dunham, one of the greats among legendary tree huggers. In the spring of this year, Chris left this Earth. Yet the man and his spirit live on in everyone he touched, proving that a life filled with love is the life we should seek. And hugs are durable. And trees are huggable.


Pie 18.0

Pie 18.0

Let’s cheer up this black Friday. The turkey drippings and butter have been wiped up, the pies cut, and the Alka Seltzer and Pepto consumed. We slept off whatever we overdrank or ate. Coffee pot is gurgling, dear husband (DH) still snoozing, and it’s time to blog a pie.

Pie 18.0, chosen by my DH and called “Life’s a Rocky Road Macadamia Mousse Pies” on page 141 in the SUGAR BUTTER FLOUR cookbook, was constructed in three dozen easy to follow steps side-by-side with Pie 19.0 (coming soon). I told you I can juggle.

First step: SHOP. Publix had everything I needed, including (to my delight) a dozen 4 ounce jelly jars.


Second step: CHOP. Macadamia nuts are soft. I chopped a couple of cups to begin the mess.


Next, I made a cookie dough, and baked 50 macadamia chocolate cookies. The chocolate was supposed to be white, but I used semi-sweet regular old chips. Only 15 cookies were actually needed for the “pies” so the cookie jar is full. DH declared them “really good” so the cookie recipe is on my short list now.

The cookies cooled, got crumbled, pulsed in the ancient blender and met up with some melted butter before they were squished in the bottom of the little jelly jars and baked for a few minutes.

I do try to use only the finest ingredients, but I am inherently frugal (aka cheap). I could not resist this grandiose claim on the cheapest vanilla bottle, reassuring me I wasn’t purchasing mere brown water.


I’d like to add that my novels are presented by special request and are excellent quality products. Just FYI. In case you needed reassurance before spending a week reading them. They are not merely brown water either. But, really, why can’t authors self-promote when it’s acceptable (and even effective) for cheap vanilla distributors to do so? My books cost less than a bottle of brown water, they took decades to write, were revised and polished dozens of times, and painstakingly proofread and tweaked. And I can’t even claim they are excellent quality products? So silly.

OK, down from my soapbox now. The air was cool and refreshing up there. Read on if you will.

The filling had a whipped component folded into a creamy white chocolate concoction. Absolutely dreamy, but ruined (to my taste) by introduction of more chopped nuts. I might be nuts, but I don’t like ’em.

This white fluffiness got spooned over the double-baked cookie bottom in each jar. More crushed cookies and nuts were sprinkled on top. The jars were sealed closed and stored in the fridge.


We took a few jars to a dessert gathering after Thanksgiving dinner. They were a hit. Another win in the record book of my virtual bakery.


Pies 18.0 and 19.0 were created in parallel. That means I chopped nuts and sliced bananas in a concerted fashion. (My orgo students know “concerted” means “at the same time” and can imagine what my transition state looked like.) Alas, although I can make two concerted pies, I cannot blog them in unison. Pie 19.0, pending permission from two bakers/sisters/photographers, is coming soon. You won’t want to miss that story–it will be high quality as promised in black and while indelible ink, just like that indisputable non-fiction claim on the vanilla bottle.


Pie 17.0

Pie 17.0

Back to savory! I know–you’re surprised. Why would I go back and try a savory pie after the Jerk Chicken debacle? Here’s the secret: I wanted to squeeze mashed potatoes out of my new frosting bag.

Bring on Pie 17.0, “Lost Shepherd’s Pie,” a concoction that started with complex mashed potatoes and ended with a meat base that looked like the child of sloppy joes and meatloaf, but with richer flavors for the nose and pallet. I loved this pie.

I do enjoy peeling. I like to use my little paring knife to try to make one long peel. My daughters have tried to convince me to move on to one of those scraping peelers. It’s just not the same feeling of accomplishment to have a pile of a thousand scraps instead of my long and twirly peels.

Chopping onions is also quite fun. I hardly cried at all. Tonight when I make my Thanksgiving stuffing, I’ll chop another onion. It’s good to plan your life around happy moments, to anticipate them as I do the chopping of my next onion. BTW, the chopped onion did not go into the potatoes. I just couldn’t wait to show it to you.

The cooked potatoes were hand-mashed and mixed. The recipe warned against beating them with a mixer because they’d become too gooey. I followed the directions like a good little cook, but next time I’m going for the creamy mashed potato option. Read on and you’ll understand why.

I made this pie in the morning. Mashed potatoes for breakfast. Yum.

The meat cooked slowly in many stages in my favorite pan. This pan and I go back more than 30 years. In fact, I’ve probably cooked more than 6000 (>30 x 365 / 2) dinners in this pan. Twice during the cooking process, I thought “That’s it. I ruined my pan. I’ll never get this dried goop off.” But then the magician recipe writers saved the day. At one point the directions told me to add red wine. It acted like a perfect solvent and swiped the bottom of the pan to shiny silver (and made a sauce or gravy). And right at the end, I had to add a bit of A1 sauce. I wondered why it had to be added at the very end. The bottom of the pan had once again looked hopeless, but the A1 wiped it clean. Amazing. I have used a bit of water in the past to moisten dried out concoctions. From now on, it’ll be wine and A1.

The meat layer went into the lightly greased dish first.


The potatoes were piped on top. I spent some brain waves choosing the frosting tip. I used the one in the middle. I also used my paring knife a couple dozen times during the potato piping to unclog chunks of potato lumps from the tip. So, yeah, next time I’m whipping those mashed potatoes with the electric beater.

A delicious savory pie. She surprised me with her beauty and deliciousness.


Pies 18.0 and 19.0 will commence today in my sunny kitchen, concurrently. Don’t worry. I can juggle.