Tag Archives: Brownie Pie

Day 334: Happy 60th Birthday John!

5 Mar

A few days ago, my friend Janet asked me to make a pie for her brother-in-law, John.  Janet has known about my pie project since day one, and has been an ardent supporter, but this was the first time she suggested someone to gift a pie to.

John is married to Janet’s sister and this is what she had to say about John and her sister, “They live in Pennsylvania where he works in full-time Christian ministry for The Navigators, where he helps churches and pastors to work with their parishioners to help people have deeper and more meaningful relationships with Jesus.”

Janet’s sister is allergic to chocolate, and so the pie that I sent, was all about John.  And for someone who is always thinking and working for someone else, this pie was a gift just for him… and I hope that John enjoys every bite!

Janet wrote, “They live a fairly simple life, so this package was a real indulgence to him. He’s never had anything like this before.  He opened it and saw that it was a pie, thinking apple or something, then saw that it was “Brownie” and was even more delighted.

I was honored to give a gift to John that was such a treat for him… for all that he does in his ministry.

Happy Birthday John… and thank you for all that you do!

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
C.S. Lewis

Day 283: A Chocolate Chess Pie for JoAnn

15 Jan

About a week ago I mentioned that I was looking for new pies to make and had found a recipe for Chess Pie.  It’s a custard-like pie that has one unusual ingredient: cornmeal.  There are many stories about where this name might have come from that you can read here.

When I mentioned Chess Pie on my blog, I asked if anyone could vouch for it.  A man named David Lowe wrote back and endorsed the idea and then sent me a recipe for a Chocolate Chess Pie.  Here is that recipe:

Fancy Chocolate Chess Pie (from Ken Hadrich’s book “Pie”)

9″ partially pre-baked crust
1/2 cup butter
4oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp fine cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup half & half
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter & chocolate gently.
Combine dry ingredients. Whisk in eggs, egg yolk, cream & vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Pour into cooled pie crust. Bake 55-65 minutes at 325F, turning in the middle to bake evenly. It’s done when it’s formed a thin, crisp top crust and barely jiggles when shaken. Cool at least 90 minutes.

Today I made this recipe and it is incredibly easy to make and this is what it looked like when it came from the oven.

It sort of looks like a Brownie Pie doesn’t it?  It has the same kind of texture on top – which sounds like a slight crunch when you touch it… and it smelled divine.  But I couldn’t leave it alone… I wanted to spruce it up a bit more.

So, I made whipped cream and piped it around the edge because I still wanted to show off the top of the pie.

Then I decided it needed one more touch…. shaved chocolate….

… there!  Now it was ready for delivery!

Yesterday afternoon my daughter Alexandra suggested a name for a pie. The lady that she suggested is the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends and her name is JoAnn.  We’ve known each other for about ten years and while I haven’t seen her in a while, I always think of her fondly.   Each time I see her I am impressed by her gracefulness and her sense of humor.

Tonight Alex and I called upon JoAnn and presented her with this Chocolate Chess Pie.  She thanked me for the pie and invited us in for a visit.  We spent an hour or two catching up and before we knew it, it was time to leave.  Then we gave hugs all around and we were on our way. And it occurs to me now that I did not share these thoughts with JoAnn – and I should do that now.

I want to recognize JoAnn for being a remarkable mother to two fine sons and for being a friend and confidante to Alexandra.  I would also like to thank JoAnn (and Facebook) for helping our kids stay connected, even though they live 3,000 miles apart.   Our lives our fuller (and funnier) because of their friendship.

Day 250: Another International Pie!

12 Dec


Last evening my daughter Alexandra was packing her bags to get ready for her flight to Denmark today. We watched her pack the gifts that she bought for her friends and then watched her weigh the bag after each addition because she was worried that she might go over the airline’s weight limit.

While that was going on in the back room, I got busy in the kitchen. I prepared pie dough – this time with no whole wheat flour – and made the crust and placed it in the pie tin. Then for the first time, I used my new ceramic “pie beans” to pre-bake the crust – a gift from my friend Gina. Once the crust was done, I let it cool on the counter while I prepared brownie batter. Then, in a flash, the brownie pie was in the oven.

After the pie was done, I let it cool and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer so that it would be firm enough for travel. And about this time, the pie is in a bag next to Alex and she should be somewhere near Greenland, hopefully fast asleep.

This brownie pie is a gift for her boyfriend Kristian, and his father Ole. They have both been hinting about getting a pie since this pie voyage began but I was hesitant to send one in the mail as it might have taken seven days and that would never do. After all, when I visited Denmark last December Ole spent hours preparing a fabulous feast for Alex and me that was topped off with a traditional Danish dessert called Ris ala mande.

What is special about this dessert is that there is a whole almond hidden in the pudding and the person who finds it receives an extra gift.  Well, neither Alex or I knew that and found it peculiar that Ole kept serving the pudding and then taking it back before we had a chance to eat it.  It seems he had forgotten which plate contained the extra almonds (yes he had hidden two!) and he wasn’t satisfied until Alex and I both found an almond in our pudding.   For “finding” the almonds, Ole gave us each a small box of chocolates.  It was so silly but so sweet to include us in this tradition.

Ole took this photo of us enjoying Ris ala Mande using a tripod.

Today, I sent Ole and Kristian  a Brownie Pie with lots of  love and good wishes for the holidays…. and for the years to come.

Day 86: Billy

1 Jul

Today is my youngest cousin’s birthday. Billy was born the year after I graduated from high school, and while I was around for his first few years, I left the east coast before he was ten years old and so I only saw him on those occasions when I returned home for a visit.

About 17 years ago, I was home for a family gathering and learned that my uncle was seriously ill. As soon as I had a chance, I phoned him to ask how he was and to see when I could visit him. My uncle told me that he had cancer and that he did not want me to see him but preferred that I “remember him as he was.”

Shortly after that phone call, Billy called. He asked if I knew that Uncle Ritchie was dying. I told him that I had just spoken to him and that he told me not to visit him. There was a short pause and then Billy said, “And you’re going to listen to that shit?” I thought, “Well, that’s what Uncle Ritchie said” but then I knew that I had to go and visit my uncle one more time.

My sister, Janice, drove with me to his house. My Aunt Donna let us in and brought us to my uncle’s room. Uncle Ritchie was drowsy but perked up when we entered the room. He seemed far away and started talking about a date he had been on many years before. It was a moment before I realized that he thought that I was my mother – and he was reliving a memory from many years past. After a short time, he seemed to realize that it was me, and not my Mom, that he was speaking to. He teared up (I think we all did actually) and said, “You look just like your Mom.” I suppose I did resemble my Mother when she was my age. And while I was relieved that my Uncle finally knew who I was – I also very glad that I was able to let him relive a happy memory when he needed it.

Two days ago, I sent my cousin Billy a Brownie Pie (via Priority Mail) for his birthday. I wanted to thank him for encouraging me to do what was so very important. I am truly grateful that I got to spend that special time with Uncle Ritchie, and I know that he appreciated it as well. Cousin, I hope your birthday was tremendous!

Day 75: June Nineteenth

20 Jun

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Juneteenth is a day on which honor and respect is paid for the sufferings of slavery. It is a day on which we acknowledge the evils of slavery and its aftermath. On Juneteenth we talk about our history and realize because of it, there will forever be a bond between us.

On Juneteenth we come together young and old to listen, to learn and to refresh the drive to achieve. It is a day where we all take one step closer together – to better utilize the energy wasted on racism. Juneteenth is a day that we pray for peace and liberty for all.


The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) hosted their annual Juneteenth Celebration today on the Green Show Stage. They describe it here on their Facebook page:
OSF’s Juneteenth celebration contains history, song, dance, monologues and poetry, all to highlight African-American artists who have been inspirational from the 19th century to the present. A wide range of OSF artists will perform. The show will include a house band and performances by Kimberley Scott, Charlie Robinson, Peter Macon, Kelvin Underwood, Kevin Kenerly, Gina Daniels, Isabell Monk O’Connor, Rodney Gardiner, Kenajuan Bentley and Alonzo Lee Moore IV, to name just a few.

Juneteenth is a truly powerful event – the OSF actors and other performers are incredible and I am delighted that we honor this day in Ashland in such a special way. I am more than a little embarrassed to say that I did not know much about Juneteenth until attending one of OSF’s Juneteenth performances several years ago. I am thankful that I am more aware now.

After today’s performance the audience was treated to a pot luck barbecue with food prepared and served by OSF employees. I wanted to contribute something to this celebration and so I baked two brownie pies. I also made a donation to the Juneteenth Fund which awards scholarships to African American students who would like to participate in OSF summer programs. If you would like to donate as well, I am sure that donations will still be accepted – just include the words “Juneteenth Fund” on your check.

Thank you!