by Eddy Robey M.A.

The Pie Game

Folks often ask how I come to invent so many successful recipes. With hope that this piece will be an inspiration to readers, I'll tell you how it's done.

The first thing to know is that not all of my inventions turn out well. In order to be creative, you must also be willing to fail. This is something people know, when trying other crafts, but forget when entering the kitchen. Yes, failure may mean wasting food, but there is no reason to view that as being more heinous than wasting yarn when learning to knit, or wood when trying to build a bookcase.

Once upon a time, someone who was trying to get you to finish dinner, told you it was a sin to waste food because children were starving elsewhere. Yes, there is much hunger in the world, but you will not alleviate it by refusing to experiment at the stove. If you feel guilt, make a donation to your local food for the homeless program; that will really be a help.

This was impressed upon me at an early age. As a little girl, I started a collection box in my closet for foods I hated, with the intention of shipping them to the Chinese children I had been assured would be delighted with the bounty. Honestly, I couldn't imagine any child who would be pleased with asparagus or liver, but if they wanted such things, I was glad to help. After about a week, my by then odoriferous hoard was discovered and discarded, by those same adults who had inspired my attempt at charity.

My consumption of detested substances would not feed starving children. It was not possible to give them to those who would find them welcome. Lesson learned: grown-ups will say any sort of nonsense to gain compliance; don't trust them. From that time, I've been willing to play with food, and highly recommend you do the same.

The following is an example of my experimental process. Using a classic recipe, we'll explore different ways to make other enjoyable treats.

Standard Pecan Pie Recipe

3 Eggs
1 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup shelled Pecans
1 9-inch Sort Pastry Crust, unbaked


Beat the Eggs. Add the next four ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into the Crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Pie is done when the top has risen and browned; it will flatten when removed from the oven. Cool and serve. This formula may be doubled to fill a 10- inch Crust.

Playing the Game

One of our most adored American goodies is Pecan Pie; there's a formula in any standard cookbook. This dessert has been baked since our first settlers discovered Pecans. For about the last eighty years, unfortunately, so has corn syrup, an ingredient which has nothing to offer but sweetness. Now, I wouldn't eat a pie made with corn syrup, but it has been included in most recipes for all that time. Lucky me, I learned to bake from Letha Mae Matthews, who made her version with either pure Maple Syrup, or a half-and-half combination of light Molasses and Honey.

Take her idea further. Any gooey sweet substance will work, so try your favorite flavor of Fruit Jam or Marmalade.

Sugar can be White, Brown, Maple, Demerara, or Date.

Another change is the nuts. There's no reason the recipe needs to be made with Pecans. Why not try Almonds, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, or Walnuts?

You Chocolate lovers should know that you can pour a cup of chopped Chocolate into the pastry, before adding whatever else you want to use. Not necessary, but very nice indeed. If you like, try Cinnamon, Peanut Butter, or Butterscotch chips. Why not?

Now, reinvent that pie. Since I know Leslie loves Orange Marmalade, that will be the sweet substance for the recipe. First, put Chocolate chips in the crust, then add the pie mixture using Marmalade and Walnuts. Those of you who like a combination of Chocolate and Raspberries should try this with Raspberry Jam and Almonds.

You can use any flavor of jam, any sort of nuts, any type of Sugar. Like Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches? Use Peanuts and Strawberry Jam.

That's how I play with food to invent successful recipes. Hope you enjoy the game too.

Copyright 2010 Eddy Robey


  Copyright 2002 Eddy Robey
Excerpts from It's Not Just Chicken Soup.
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