Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Reasons to Love "Killer Pies" by Stephanie Anderson

Hey, sweeties. Remember how I won that Chronicle Books Happy Haul-Idays contest? Well, I'm happy to say I've been receiving my $500 worth of books a little at a time, and have been more overjoyed with each addition to my cookbook collection.

But my current favorite of the batch has to be Killer Pies: Delicious Recipes from North America's Favorite Restaurants by Stephanie Anderson. Published in 2007, this book features pie recipes and lore from all around the US and Canada, and makes for some deliciously fascinating reading. But don't just take my word for it: here's a baker's dozen of my favorite bits from the book: 

  1. Another explanation for the name "Shoofly Pie" from The Famous Dutch Restaurant, Frackville, PA: I had always thought the story behind the pie's name was due to the fact that it was so sweet that the baker had to "shoo" flies away from the rich, gooey filling; however, as I learned from this eatery's entry, which includes a recipe for "Wet-Bottom Shoofly Pie" (I know, take up the name with them), there is another theory, which I also love: "others claim that shoofly is a corruption of the French word for cauliflower ("chou-fleur"), as the crumbly top slightly resembles the vegetable". 
  2. Before I Die, I Must Eat Fudge Pie from Ed & Kay's, Benton, Arkansas: Upon reading the entry about this eatery, I had a sudden and massive urge to take a road trip to AR for a sample of their "cinnamon rolls the size of dinner plates" and for the fudge pie, made with a decadent, pecan-chocolate filling, for which there is a recipe in the book, adapted from a customer who shared the recipe with co-owner Kay Diemer.
  3. Top of to-do List, Lynden Dutch Bakery, Lynden, WA: For shame: this place is located in the very state I live, and yet I've never heard of it. "Downtown Lynden, in fact, could be renamed Little Holland. Many of the townspeople speak Dutch...Lynden Dutch Bakery owners Steve and Rise Copeman whip up homemade cookies, wedding cakes, pastries, breads, and pies with that special Dutch touch. Sour cream raisin pie is a favorite." And there's a recipe for it in the book!
  4. There is an actual place called Pie Town in New Mexico: Wait. Hold! The! Phone! There is a place called Pie Town!? Why don't I live there? Oh, and there's a pretty spectacular-sounding recipe from The Daily Pie Cafe, from said town, for New Mexican Apple Pie, which contains green chiles!
  5. Manitoba Maple-Walnut Pie: Doesn't the name just send a shiver of happiness down your spine? This sweet treat is a specialty at Just Desserts Cafe in Winnipeg, Manitoba (that's Canada, in case you didn't know), which specializes in "sweets that are rich and sinful, as the best ones always are." This one combines maple syrup, brown sugar, chocolate, and walnuts for a treat that is making me want to rush north of the border!
  6. Bob Andy Pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies, Baltimore, MD: I don't know why this pie is called the "Bob Andy", but I do know that as soon as I read the description from owner Rodney Henry (a pie-maker and tattooed rock-star), who called it a "white trash creme brulee", I knew I had to try it. Basically a simple custard pie, here is my attempt!
  7. Poogan's Porch is a Porch I want to visit: Located at 72 Queen Street, Charleston, SC's Poogan's Porch boasts not only a ghost (a former resident of the building, Zoe St. Amand, a spinster schoolteacher) but also a fantastic spin on the classic pecan pie: something beautiful and glorious called the Kalua Pecan Pie. "A kick of coffee flavor to complement the rich nuts" sounds pretty nice to me!
  8. A perfect-pie crust tip from a professional: Nicole Anhalt, pastry chef at aforementionedPoogan's Porch, also offers a valuable tip for perfect pie crust (a tip specific to her unbaked-shell pecan pie, but I believe it could be used for other recipes which call for an unbaked pie shell): Just before you begin to make the filling, place the pie shell in the freezer. when you're finished, pull the shell out of the freezer and add the pecans and filling. The almost-frozen shell will result in a flakier crust."
  9. Saskatoon Pie, the existence of, and a recipe for: Apparently, there is a berry native to Canada called the Saskatoon Berry. While I've never tried this berry, I'm already pretty sure that its best use is in pie form, and the entry for Black Cat Guest Ranch in Hinton, Alberta, includes a wonderful-sounding recipe, which includes saskatoon berries (described as small, purple berries which have a subtle berry-almond flavor), juice, and spices sandwiched between a rich double crust.
  10. Ohio's Oldest Hotel Makes Delicious Pie: Under the entry for The Golden Lamb, noted as being "Ohio's Oldest Hotel", from Lebanon, OH, there is a recipe for "Sister Lizzie's Shaker Sugar Pie", a "staple" pie, so called because it has ingredients likely to be found in any pantry.
  11. Crystal Lake, it's Not Just for Friday the 13th Fans: Apparently there is a reason to go to Crystal Lake, IL, other than the fact that it has the same name as the campgrounds in the Friday the 13th movies. That reason is pie, specifically apple pie, which can be found very deliciously atAround The Clock Restaurant & Bakery.
  12. Grapes, They're Not Just For Wine: You heard me. Grapes are apparently for pie, too. Case in point: the Concord Grape Pie of Arbor Hill Winery of Naples, New York. Boozeless but bountifully buttery and delicious, the book has a recipe for this pie, which is known to locals as "famous Naples grape pie". Fascinated? Me too.
  13. A Shout-out to The Little Pie Company: During and after college, when I lived in NYC and worked at a rubber stamp store, one of my favorite customers (who had us make custom rubber stamps with their logo) was Little Pie Company. And in this book, you can find their decadently delicious recipe for deep-dish, old fashioned apple pie. Awesome!

 You should really buy the book. Do that here.