Many Midwesterners still have a box of recipe cards, stained with water spots and faded handwriting grandma memorized and passed down from generation to generation. Pie crust and filling secrets perfected over decades of trial and error are pulled out around a holiday or special occasion to transport our taste buds back in time.
If you have ever wished for a “pie-ography” collecting these recipes and the stories behind them, look no further.
Midwest Pie: Recipes That Shaped a Region, expected in May, gives a historical tour of pies from the Heartland and guides readers through one of the region’s most enduring culinary contributions via 50 recipes, historical photos and local lore.
“The recipes were collected from historical cookbooks and regional community cookbooks, either given to me by friends and family members or found in area thrift stores,” says Meredith Pangrace, editor of Midwest Pie.
The cookbook-turned-history lesson begins with instructions on how to make five types of pie crusts and walks readers through the bean pie’s origins in the Nation of Islam. One can get a taste of old classics like Butterscotch Pie and Speedy Custard Pie, regional favorites like the Ohio Buckeye Pie and popular treats made with Midwestern ingredients like All-American Apple Pie and Chokecherry Pie.
From there, readers are transported back in time with “Desperation Pies” from the Great Depression and handheld pies, or “pasties,” which Michigan miners would eat for lunch. Plus, find retro favorites of the ‘50s and ‘60s in these pages.
“My favorites are the ones from the Retro section of the book (Chocolate Marshmallow, Star Spangled Cherry) because those are the ones that I grew up eating,” Pangrace says. “Not only do I love the taste of a graham cracker crust, but they are so easy to make.”
For Pangrace, a Cleveland writer and musician, the most interesting thing she learned about pies while organizing the book was how simple they are to make, especially during the Great Depression when people had just staple household items like cornstarch and sugar to work with.
“It’s amazing the variety of pies that can be made from a few simple ingredients,” Pangrace says.
Midwest Pie: Recipes That Shaped a Region is made for any home chef looking to learn more about the diversity and deliciousness of these Midwestern staples.
Pie lovers can purchase the book online or at local bookstores when it hits shelves in May. In the meantime, it is available for pre-order now at beltpublishing.com.
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