Every year, the art department at the university where Brandon teaches hosts a open studio event where student work is displayed on the walls, in the hallways, and in each studio class room. People from the community and the families of the students come to explore the building, attend the student award ceremony, and eat the free food. The faculty in each studio area bring some snacks for guests that come to their studios.
The ceramics studio has a pottery sale and chili, and other folks provide finger foods and Papa Johns pizza, but I bake pies for Brandon's room. I'm in the pie baking mood this time of year, since I just practiced for Thanksgiving, and I love an excuse to make mass quantities of desserts. In the photo above, you can see the pretty honey from a Kentucky bee keeper that I used in the pumpkin pie.
There are other ingredients in these pies that I do not consider to be top quality, and for the first time, I had awareness and misgivings about this. I bought Pillsbury crusts because
I'm lazy baking six pies is feasible on a work night if I save the time of making my own crusts, and its been my experience that only pie crust connoisseurs would even notice the difference. Actually, the Pillsbury crusts turn out reliably well each time, which is not something I can say for my own crusts. As I was unrolling the crusts to make the pumpkin pie, I glanced at the ingredient list and saw that these crusts have hydrogenated lard. Uh-oh. I didn't even realize that lard could be hydrogenated. I felt bad putting my pretty pie filling in poisonous crust.
I did use real butter in the chocolate pie filling instead of a cheaper hydrogenated margarine, but I didn't use butter from pastured cows
because I'm cheap so I could save some money. I also didn't use organic ingredients or pasture raised chicken eggs for the same reason. I have a little guilt about this. I always have a little guilt about chocolate pie anyway, since the main ingredient is white sugar. So, I'm feeding innocent strangers insulin spiking sugar pie with factory farmed ingredients in a toxic crust!! I need to stop reading nutrition information on the interweb because it's ruining pie for me and making each pie cost three times as much and take three times as much effort to make!
At least the apple pie has real apples, right? Not organic apples though. I'm such a cheapskate.
I felt like putting a warning label on my pie (Beware, Hydrogenated Lard in Crust), or hovering over my pies warning people of the dangers. Knowledge is a terrible thing.
To fuel my guilt even more, I made an apple crumble pie for use to eat at home, and made the crust myself, and used the expensive butter. In my defense, I did practice using the food processor to make this crust, in the hopes that I can perfect a faster technique, and next year make better quality crusts for all the pies.
I know my guilt is self imposed, because the folks at the open studio were scarfing down pizza, crackers, and cookies from boxes, and if I were to mention that the pie crust has hydrogenated lard, cheap eggs, and grain fed butter they probably wouldn't have known why they should care. Now that I know, I have some responsibility, right? Even if the people who are eating it don't know or care?
The pies were so pretty, and so fun to assemble, but my guilt prevented me from being super proud of them, even though they are the same pies I've made before, and every last crumb was gobbled up by the grateful guests.
We gobbled up the pie at home too, even though my home made crust wasn't quite as flaky as the dough boy's crust turned out to be. When using the food processor it's easy to over mix, I think.
So next year I need to budget for better pie ingredients, and more time to use those quality ingredients. Or maybe I should just bring a salad!