More Pie for Everyone

Why Pie? Why Now?

When my publisher asked if I could write the Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies Cookbook, I jumped at the chance. It's a natural follow-up to the Mrs. Rowe Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from Shenandoah Valley because Mrs. Rowe was famous for her pie. We could not possibly include all the pie recipes in the first book.

The other reason I jumped at the chance is that I love pie. The mix of textures and flavors in any piece of pie—whether it’s fruit or cream-based, suits my personality. It delights me.

But even more than the actual bite of it in my mouth, I love the idea of pie. It conjures images of home and hearth to some, yet to others it conjures more base appetites—lust and passion enclosed in a perfect crust or perfectly crafted meringue. These two images don’t necessarily have to be at odds with one another—as those of us who are married with children can attest to. 

In fact, pie is many things to many people. It can mean whatever you want it to mean. It can also be as simple or elegant as you want to it be. You can bake a blackberry pie, for example, with more expensive but locally grown blackberries, or you can buy a can of berries or even frozen ones. You can stick with a simple pumpkin pie, made with Libby’s canned pumpkin—or you can go as far growing your own pumpkins for mashing.

As I researched this book, I talked to a lot of people about pie—cookbook authors, food writers, restaurant owners, neighbors, friends and family members.  It became clear to me that many people have strong feelings about it.  Unfortunately, one of the feelings that cropped up about it is crust-anxiety. That’s a topic for another discussion. Another thing that kept cropped up frequently was that most people judge pie by the way their own mother’s made it for them as a child. How’s that for a link between love and pie?

So, I say more pie for everyone.  It’s the perfect time for it—we all could use a little more love, a lot more fun, and a simple bit of joy baked in our own ovens.

Visiting Mrs. Rowe’s Country Buffet, Mount Crawford, Va.

My day at Mrs. Rowe’ s Country Buffet was an interesting change of pace. I’ve been writing about the Staunton restaurant for a few years now. This is the first chance I’ve had to visit the kitchen at the Buffet. I spoke with the baker, Angie, and watched her prepare the pies. I took a few shots of her making the morning’s pie. She prepares the cream pies in the morning and fruit in the afternoon. I also took some shots of the sliced pie on the buffet table and counters. Mmmmm. I think I gained five pounds just smelling the egg custard coming out of the oven.

Day in the Kitchen at Mrs. Rowe’s, part 2

Okay. I figured out the vertical picture thing.
The new baker is a happy guy. Patrick Sullivan started out cooking at Mrs. Rowe’s a few years ago,  and is now being trained as a baker. He loves his new gig. Gee, I did not get the potato guys name—but I talked to him about his job. He says he loves it because he gets to work alone, in corner by himself, which suits him fine.  I always wondered what kind of a person thrives simply peeling potatoes. There you have it. I wanted to ask him more—but by then, I knew he wanted to just be LEFT ALONE! Ha.
Oh yeah, I had to get one shot in of those rolls in the cooling racks. They smelled heavenly…Dscf2341



Day in the Kitchen at Mrs. Rowe’s

I spent some time with the new baker at Mrs. Rowe’s. While I was there, I took some pictures of the pie and bread proofing. I’ve also taken pictures of the baker and the potato peeler guy–but they are vertical and I need to figure how how to turn them around!



A Chef’s Table

The Mrs. Rowe cookbook is featured on a A Chef’s Table this week. It’s a nationally-syndicated radio show and really, really fascinating. I love the way Chef Coleman pulls the stories together. I was interviewed months ago for this and am excited and flattered to be on it. Check it out at You can figure out from there when you can listen to it on a local NPR  station.

Taste of the South Magazine

Exciting news!  Taste of the South magazine will be featuring Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant and the book in their Summer issue, which will hit the stands in June/July. Mike DiGrassie, owner of the restaurant is thrilled because that is smack in the middle of tourist season. I am thrilled, well, JUST BECAUSE! It’s an awesome feeling to know someone appreciates your work, for one thing. And then, for it to be such a prestigious magazine…Have you looked at their latest issue? A gorgeous piece of blueberry-peach cheesecake dons the cover. A welcoming sight, indeed. Also, for those who actually like to READ, there are some fascinating articles—one about catfish, another on sandwiches, and one on Duke’s, the only mayonnaise we EVER have in my house. There is also a feature on Rebecca Rather of Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in Fredericksburg, Texas. (Her cookbook is one of my favorites.) Look for it on the magazine stands, pick up a copy, finger through the pages, you will have to buy it.

A Taste of our Book “Tour”

As we are moving in to the next phase of promoting the Mrs. Rowe book, I thought I’d share some of the images I’ve gathered as we’ve traveled. There are more and I’ll get to those soon. In the mean time, if you want to have a better look at the pictures, just click on them and they will get bigger.

Wolfgang Puck Cooks up Improvements for Farm Animals

Here’s an email letter I received this morning from the Humane Society of the Unted States. I say “way to go, Mr. Puck,” and here’s hoping that others will follow his lead.

“Renowned celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has implemented an historic animal welfare program that’s the first of its kind in the restaurant industry.

Working with The HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, Puck is implementing a nine-point program for all its operations, which includes an immediate end to the use of foie gras, more delicious vegetarian and organic options, and higher welfare standards for animals used for his menus, such as no confinement in crates or cages.

Chef Puck said, “If consumers could see how abused these animals are, they would demand change.”

Wolfgang Puck’s program is a major step toward curbing many of the worst cruelties associated with modern factory farms, and his company deserves applause for implementing it. Please thank Wolfgang Puck for raising the bar on farm animal treatment and reducing these animals’ suffering, and urge your friends and family to do the same.
Find out more at our web site, and thank you for all you do to combat factory farming.”