Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Someone's absconding with pies

Are your pies safe? Are you sure? Have you checked them recently? Because the only way to be completely certain is put them in––you guessed it––a pie safe. 

Don't you just love that someone crafted a piece of furniture to keep pies safe? I do. I don't even know them but I love them already. And I wish I had one of these lovely pieces of furniture. The one to the left is a reproduction made by an Amish gentleman. Lovely, huh? Below are pie safes from the 1800s. Be still my beating heart...

I love the detail work on the tin panels...

Here are some quick historical facts on pie safes:

  • Long before refrigerators and ice boxes, pie safes stored baked goods, flour and other kitchen items.
  • Pie safes are constructed of wood native to that area of the country (pine was especially popular in the South), and they vary in size and shape. But they all have holes or shelves with small air holes.
  • The pie cabinet (or safe) most likely originated in 16th century Europe and was introduced to the U.S. by German immigrants who came to Pennsylvania in the 1800s and soon became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
  • The pie safe was generally kept as far from the wood stove as possible to keep the food safe from too much heat. In some homes, it might have been kept on the back porch next to the dry sink (to benefit from the cooler air circulating).
  • Pie safes have screening or punched tin designs in the top, sides, doors, or a combination of these. The screen allowed the baked goods to have ventilation while keeping rodents, flies, and hungry youngsters at bay. The ventilation also helped the food stay cooler and kept it from molding as easily.

  • The punched tin started with each hole being punched by the craftsman individually, then moved to nails put in boards in certain patterns and used to punch the holes, then on to "punching the tin" mechanically, all at one time.
  • Some of the "tin patterns" were fashioned in the likeness of well known people at the time, such as presidents of the country––or a beloved favorite author (not really).
  • Some kitchen safes have tops that open upward while others have a combination of doors and drawers.
  • There were even pie safes that were combination safes (that's what I'm talkin' about!) and that also included a jelly cupboard (because you must have jelly with your pie!)
  • Owning an antique pie safe can mean rolling out some major dough (you knew that was coming, right?), but there are many places selling reproductions for much less.

And now...what would a pie safe be without a pie? It's yummy time! Here's a pie I made recently, along with the recipe. Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you make it and how it turns out.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cream Pie
(oh, so good!)

1 baked 9-inch Pie Crust
1 Cup Sugar
4 Tablespoons plain flour 
Dash of Salt
3 Tablespoons Baking Cocoa
2 Cups Milk
1/3 cup Milk
3 Eggs, Separated (yolks well beaten, keep the whites for the meringue)
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Butter

Preheat Oven to 350. Bake pie crust till golden brown. Prick the bottom and sides (and use pie weights, if you want, to keep the crust from shrinking). 

Heat 2 cups milk to almost boiling. Mix sugar, flour, salt, and cocoa. Stir dry mixture into 1/3 cup cold milk until moistened. Add beaten egg yolks. Add entire mixture to hot milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and the butter. Remove from burner and let cool while you prepare the meringue. Oh yum! Honestly, this pudding is good enough to eat right now. Straight from the pan! 

Basic Meringue

3 egg whites (from above)
Dash of salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Gradually add sugar; beat after each addition until sugar is partially dissolved. Add pudding to cooled pie shell and top with meringue making sure the meringue touches the sides of the pie crust to prevent shrinking. Broil in 325 degree oven until lightly golden brown (5-10 minutes).

So tell me, do you own a pie safe? I'd love to hear about it, if you do. And quick! What's the last kind of pie you ate? Mine was...Chocolate Cream Pie, of course.

P.S. I cross posted this on Writes of Passage too. So for more comments (snarky AND sweet), visit there.
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