19 October 2014

PPG's Delicata Pie Recipe

Good morning pie people, 

Happy October and long time no see.  I'm writing today because I wanted to share a fantastic seasonal pie recipe that you all should try out. While I don't bake "professionally" like I used to out in Montana, living here in Buffalo has given me the opportunity to scale back the baking which also makes the eating all the more enjoyable.  Having just moved into our apartment a few months back, last night my roommate Morgan and I finally had a proper housewarming party and several of our friends came over and brought a tremendous amount of delicious food while yours truly provided dessert.

The potluck was a certifiable success.  Among many other delicious items, there were (Chinese) chicken wings, (Turkish) stuffed peppers and (Finnish) Karelian pierogies.  Having a piece of pie with my coffee for breakfast this morning got me to thinking that I should probably give out a recipe or two once in awhile for those who might be interested.

A little background on the differences between Squash

Throughout the course of the party, a few friends asked me what was my favorite pie to make/eat.  It didn't take long to answer that it is squash (and pumpkin) pie.  So I've decided to share the recipe and offer a tips for preparing your own squash pie.

Keep in mind that the prep time is a little bit longer with these pies but the pay off is well worth it.  Using fresh squash or pumpkin beats the canned version every day.  I will also acknowledge that the canned stuff works extremely well and tastes good too but nothing can ever replace fresh ingredients.  So without much further ado, here goes:

PPG's Delicata (Squash) Pie

1 (9 oz) pie crust/shell

16 oz squash (pureed)

2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
3/4 low-fat milk
3/4 C heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP butter (melted)

1/2 C brown sugar
 5 TBSP sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp of salt

Heat your oven to 350 degrees
(It's 350 for the baking of the squash and then 425 for the baking of the actual pie)

Baking the squash in your oven is the longest in terms of time but is also, I find, the most efficient in ease of separating the fruit from the skin but more importantly it can also warm up your house and properly fill it with the scent of warm squash.     

You will need an ovenproof container for my preferred method.

1) Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
2) Arrange/place the cleaned out halves with the skin placed on the bottom.
3) Cover the container and bake it for 45 to 90 minutes.  (In my present oven it took 75 minutes, but usually it falls between 60-90 depending on how hot your oven runs) 
4) Test it (after 45 minutes minimum) periodically by sticking it with a fork or spoon to see if it is soft.
5) Once it is soft to the touch, remove from the oven and place on top of the stove/counter and let cool for exactly 30 min.  This will give time for the water that inevitably surfaces on top of the fruit filling to evaporate and settle back into the filling.
6) At that point you then scrape the fruit of the squash off of the skin.  A little skin isn't the worst thing but the goal is to have no skin in the mixing bowl of baked squash filling.
7) Once you have the filling separated from the skin you can then place it all into a food processor and blend it for 4-6 minutes with the goal of making the puree as smooth as possible.
8) At this point you pour or measure 16 oz of the filling for use for the pie filling.  Any extra fruit can be stored in the refrigerator.*
* Depending the type of squash, the yield will vary.  For this recipe I prefer Delicata squash and it typically takes 3-4 of them to get enough for 16 or a few more ounces.  It is also important to keep in mind to not exceed 16 oz for the actual pie filling because if you add too much the center will never completely congeal properly (or at least up to my perfectionist? standards).

Once you have the squash puree, you are now ready to add the wet ingredients and then the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Once you have it all blended sufficiently you can pour the filling into your pie pan/shell.

At this point, you should (always) bake the pie on the bottom rack of your oven at 425 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes.  Again, this speaks to the varying degrees of heat an oven produces but I find with even the hottest of ovens, it should take 40-50 minutes.

If you have any questions or feedback please let me know and I hope you'll get to try this delicious recipe out.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed.  Happy baking!



23 February 2014

"The Philosophy of Reform": Ç 8 lands in the Empire State

Well what do you know? I trade Missoula in for Buffalo and I am still snowed in, wind-blown and half-frozen. Not that I mind as I am a fan of the North Country but things are nonetheless quite different here. For better or worse, I've traded in the Rocky Mountains for the Great Lakes, Portland and Seattle in favor of Boston and NYC, Huckleberry for Apple country and it also just so happens that this year's 8th edition of Ç has followed me into the Empire State. Not permanently mind you, but the feisty lit rag is branching out by setting up shop situated between the cultural nexus that apparently is Buffalo to Boston to NYC.

As such, I am pleased to announce this issue's guest editor, native New Yorker Keith Olejniczak. KO's a philosophical guy by way of formal training but he's also been a writer/steady contributor and overall supporter of this lit rag project since its 2007 inception. Now he gets to steer the ship, with the help of his talented wife and artist, Maureen, who will be overseeing the artistic direction for the covers and any other accompanying visual pieces.   

To briefly recap for the uninitiated, Ç is an annual literary arts journal for low-down writers and artists - small batch productions, typically hand-bound, not meant for review online or marketed and sold with ISBNs, perhaps stashed in a few special collections -  it's the kind of journal you may hear about but will rarely, if ever, catch a glimpse of unless you contribute yourself or happen upon its release party. Such festive occasions are one-off events that come after the final production in each and every calendar year. Yet there are a lot of words to be parsed and much ink to be dried before we get to the party. So peep the visionary and activist Mill motif and check out the flier below - and note the deadline for submission is 15 May 2014.

A few final words. 2014 has been a rough year already for poets, revolutionaries and critical thinkers. To date we've lost heavyweights like Baraka, Seeger and Hall but have also unfortunately bore witness to the persecution of Shabaani. I mention all of this to say that if you believe, like me, that writing is fighting - well then we certainly have a lot more writing to do to combat and correct the rampant corruption and injustice that plagues our ravaged, plundered and globalized home we call earth.

One last thing to consider, these words of the slave who taught himself to read, delivered on August 3, 1857 in Canandaigua, New York:

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
 This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass

Consider this another chapter of the untelevised revolution. If you've got something clever, creative and insightful to say, submit your works to the email listed on the flier. Once again the submission deadline is May 15, 2014 and our production team will be hard at work this summer compiling, editing and selecting your works with the goal of heading to press in the fall. Future correspondences will be conducted via e and snail mail. Looking forward to hearing from you - from newbies to regular contributors - if you don't know, now you know.

12 September 2013

parting is such sweet sorrow

This is late.  I jotted most of this all down in August but never revisited it as I was crushed with everything I needed to do to leave Missoula.  So here goes:

As you all well know by now, Pie Guy Industries has picked up its Missoula base of operations and relocated back east.  Buffalo, NY to be more precise.  Now I say back because although I never baked a pie in my life until coming to Missoula, Maryland and the East Coast will always be my home.  Not that Buffalo is home, although I suppose it soon will be, more like I am moving to the region (and time zone) I will always consider home to me and "my people".  Now no disrespect intended to Missoulians, but I don't think it was an accident that my inner circle of guy friends at least are all dudes from back east.  Tim, Keith and Fred, from New York, New York and New Jersey, respectively.  As a matter of fact, my other great friend Brendan is from Colorado but his folks are from Jersey so I can connect those dots too.  These are guys with similar sensibilities as my own, perhaps characterized by shorter fuses, sharp sarcastic wit and a no-nonsense approach to life that is bred from growing up on top of one another and dealing, from an all-too-close proximity, with too many people's shit.

Yet I digress, Missoula has been so kind and good to me (cue Sammy Sosa?).  In the weeks leading up to my departure I would get extremely sad to think of leaving the oasis that is Missoula and my life without the market and the relationships I've established with so many of my customers.  Yet I must admit my spirit does cartwheels now on Thursday and Friday nites when I'm not standing up running around like a crazy man baking til the wee hours of the morning.  I certainly don't miss that but then again, I didn't miss East Coast humidity either.  Sheesh.  So life goes on for all of us and I have to always consider my future and it is with that in mind that I moved from Western Montana to Western New York.

There are so many thank-yous to give out that I apologize if I miss anybody by name.  Thank you to Mary Ellen and Franco for managing the Clark Fork Market so well over the past four plus seasons.  Thank you to Kate for always paying me cash for my tokens.  Thank you to Chris Lafley for encouraging me to sign up to sling pies in the first place.  Thanks to Peter and Sue for letting me know that my rhubarb was crunchy and offering the suggestion to marinate it before baking it in the oven.  Thank you Dawn for helping me develop a more reliable vegan crust as well as a killer custard that works well with any complimentary fruit like blueberry, raspberry, huckleberry or rhubarb.  Thanks to Fred "The Machine Gun" Dealaman, Jr. for helping me with crazy wedding catering jobs and for selling pies/slices on an as-needed basis.

Thanks to Brendan Stewart for letting me use his kitchen to the tune of well over 1,000 pies baked since 2009.  I'm sure it will falter soon - in fact you've probably already replaced it by now - but who knew Kenmore's were so damn durable?

Thanks to all my friends and family who've encouraged me, the assistants who have helped me over the years - from my parents to my brother Mike to Shea and Tim.  Most of all, thank you the customers, even though you were customers I am happy that so many of you have become my friends over the years.  Thank you Derek and Julie for almost single handedly underwriting my production with their own consumption.  As well as to David and all the others who have turned out to my stand nearly every Saturday for four plus years.  I truly wish I could still offer you guys gluten-free pie that is surely lacking in that town now in my absence.

Before I left, I could hardly envision what life would feel like now that I don't have the Clark Fork Market to hang out at.  I'm getting a better understanding now.  It's more than ok, but I do miss Missoula specifically and Montana in general because it is full of so many real, down-to-earth, salt-of-the-earth, warm, genuine, unique, caring and community-minded individuals that made it so sad and difficult for me to leave.

Yet there are more opportunities that I simply could not pass up.  Bigger and better things to strive for, more pies in the sky that I must chase down knowing full well that no matter where exactly I end up, I will always treasure and cherish the journey, the good times, the life-affirming moments along with the heartaches and the heartbreaks, but particularly I will treasure and cherish all the of the diverse, amazing and wonderful people I've had the good fortune to encounter and befriend.

Lastly, I must thank Miss Betty Lou Vilnius for without her none of this would've been possible.  As crazy as that may sound, those who know me know this to be true.  As always, it's all for you, Lou.

Thanks again for everything, Missoula, I'll never meet a town just like you and for that I will always hold you near and dear to my heart and perhaps one day down the road I may seek shelter again on the banks of the gorgeous flowing river that they say "runs through it".

With all of my love, respect and utmost appreciation,


09 May 2013

stop the violence, bro

Thoughts on domestic violence from Baltimore to the U.S. Military to Cleveland and back to Baltimore

So we've come to this.

They say that pyromania and cruelty to animals are the two telltale signs of serial killers.  I'll say something even more obvious - violence against women denigrates the society we live in and our inability (or unwillingness) to protect them is tearing right at the fabric of our society.  We're teaching our kids from their earliest days that not only is violence against women normal, it is also accepted and permissible...and this shit has got to stop.

Where to begin?

RIP Katie Hadel (1979-2013)
Let's start in my homeland of Baltimore County.  Sadly and tragically, three months months ago a girl I went to high school with; was friends with; hung out most weekends with; Katie Hadel, was murdered by some loser who unsuccessfully tried to date her since the 7th grade.  I also knew this guy back then and I could always tell he was up to no good.  This was no great insight of mine, all of my friends who knew him always kept him at arms length as well.  I didn't and don't know any particulars about his family, his upbringing or his circumstances but he was always trouble.  Yet despite Katie obtaining several restraining orders against him over the years and receiving various threats from him while he was still incarcerated, she was ultimately unable to stop him from physically entering her house and murdering her in front of her children.

Read more on the story on the preventable murder of Katie Hadel

I bring this up because this week has been a particularly bad one for domestic violence, abuse and torture of women across the United States.

For starters, there's a new report which shows more than 7,000 estimated cases of sexual assault in the US military from 2011 to 2012 (26,000 in 2012 vs 19,000 in 2011).  Should we be surprised?

Read more on the sexual assault crisis in the U.S. military

From there we get to Cleveland, Ohio where Ariel Castro illegally abducted and imprisoned three girls over the past ten years.

Read more here on the long and sordid history of kidnapper Ariel Castro

Among all of the sundry and godawful details and storylines that came out of the heroic rescue by Charles Ramsay and Angel Cordero one thing stood out to me.  It's this quote by Ramsay:

"So, you know, I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute" - Charles Ramsay

This statement reveals so much of what we already know and/or assume - and it goes along with black on black crime - that American society expects domestic violence so therefore when it occurs it doesn't really shock us into thoughtful or meaningful action.  Let me say that again, as a society we have come to expect domestic violence therefore we become inured to it and fail to act proactively to help prevent it or in the case of anti-Charles Ramsay's out there, there are those who will not get in the middle of neighbor's domestic dispute because it's not any of their business.  Well, I'm saying that that attitude has to cease.

Look, we have t-shirts affectionately named wife beaters (of which I will be the first to accept having used in daily vernacular in the past but no longer) and then we, as men, consume all of this bullshit that somehow women ask for it or even worse that these damn women make the shit up.  Of course women consume this bullshit too, which is why in the aforementioned case of the rise of sexual assaults in the U.S. military we have staggering numbers of estimated assaults but much smaller actual reported cases.  In fact, as that article states we have 6% of those 26,000 cases that are actually reported (or 3,374 out of the approximate 26,000).

Why are women afraid in the military (and in all of society) to report said crimes?  It's because most believe people will not take them seriously - and can we blame them for that?  Of course there are fabricated sexual assaults (see 2006 Duke University lacrosse scandal) but the very fact that a small percentage of abuse claims could be, and are, warrantless does not dismiss the overwhelming and abundant evidence of gross violence perpetrated on women by men.  I mean are 26,000 U.S. military servicewomen just making shit up?  Of course not.

Back to Cleveland and quoting from the above cited article above from the Cleveland Scene magazine: "Castro broke his ex-wife’s nose and ribs, dislocated her shoulders, knocked out one of her teeth and battered her so hard that a blood clot formed on her brain, according to filings in court. In an interview with investigators after the fact, Castro denied ever being abusive toward her".  Naturally, rather than being arrested for assault and battery much less attempted murder, he was charged with disorderly conduct.  I mean what is wrong with the American justice system?

Why doesn't our justice system take life-threatening domestic violence seriously?  Treating domestic violence as the crime it is on the books could have protected this man's wife, his daughters, and the three young women he eventually kidnapped.

When we allow women to be beaten in any situation, we are allowing more violence against women in every situation.  Look no further than my friend Katie Hadel.

How was Ariel Castro never thrown in jail?  

Luckily, at least those three women are still alive.  Going forward - how do we as a society protect women?  Clearly there is a disconnect between the justice system and the prevention of violence.  Is the Cleveland PD negligent?  Were Castro's neighbors negligent?  Maybe laws need to be written and judges need to sign more court orders so that the cops that never got an answer at Castro's door after fifteen or twenty knocks could actually go in and investigate?

At some point the cops and the legal system saying that our hands are tied is not enough for the victims (female and male) of all this violence. 

How will Katie's (and the hundreds or thousands of other children who lose their mothers to this type of violence) kids grow up under such trauma?  

Sadly, there's more.

Yesterday in Baltimore, an off-duty Baltimore police killed his fiance and mother of his child.  Read some the depressing details here: Baltimore Police Officer Murders Girlfriend

What do I take away from the article?  It's this:

James Smith and Kendra Diggs in happier times
"The minute he fired at that young lady and our police officers — he was treated as a suspect," Guglielmi said.

Does anybody else see the faulty logic recurring here?  How do we proactively deal with men who are threatening women?  Why does it take a fucking gunshot to the head until they treat the man as a suspect?  I know in this case the "suspect" is a police officer but let's not pretend that corrupt cops only exist in comic books, movies and Noir crime fiction.  

We need to start teaching kids that is never okay to lay your hands on a woman.  I know the NRA would say we need more guns to defend "our" women but I'm of the opinion that de-escalation is key to preventing homicidal situations but what do I know...

It seems to me that we need to change the way laws are written so that men who are threatening women cannot lay their hands on them.  In the case of my old friend Katie Hadel, all the cops can say is "hey, we couldn't do anything more".   Did they not know he was writing threatening letters from the bowels of their own institutions?  We spy on our own innocent citizens, can we not spy on our inmates?  I think its high time we start to proactively address domestic violence instead of the typical American reactionary (i.e. too late to save a life) bullshit.

Thank you NRA for affirming our manly priorities
If anyone has any good ideas how to make this a reality please let me know and maybe we can start something.  All I know is I am sick to my stomach losing women when the perpetrators have already been accused and yet cops have no legal recourse to act preemptively or just straight up fail to do so.  

Lastly, what cannot be overcome physically and materially we must battle philosophically and ideologically.  By this I mean, and am referring to the ex-girlfriend shooting dummy unveiled at an NRA convention in Houston last week.

Read more on the NRA vendor's 'Ex' shooting target

It is precisely this type of haywire masculinity and its ultimately destructive thought processes that feed into an American culture of domestic violence.  It's time to take steps to revolt against this backwards male dominated culture and let the "men" out there that perpetrate such hate face some accountability for their violent at worst, careless and juvenile at best, behavior.

Thanks for reading.


03 May 2013

Blast off Missoula - Market Menu for Saturday, May 4th

It's been a long time, I know. Now don't be mad it's just that I've been busy steeling myself for the forthcoming farmer's market season here in Missoula at the #1 market in town - The Clark Fork Market. (you can follow the goings-on all year long at the CFM right here: http://www.clarkforkmarket.com/)

Throughout the market season I'll mostly be providing weekly menus along with a few choice blogs that I have time for with topics that I really want to talk about. Starting this week, I lose most of my free time (i.e. reading and writing time) so there will be much less blogging and much more baking. But rest assured I do have some stuff in the que - like my take on Jason Collins' (gasp) coming out party, resource extraction and public (un)health and corporate/capitalist indifference tied in with money's corrupting influence on American "democracy". But hey until then, you don't start a pie guy website exclusively to write...

So without further adieu and to set the mood, here's a track from the Talib Kweli's upcoming Prisoner of Conscious album due out next Tuesday, May 7th. My main man The Rza lays the track and Busta Rhymes shows up to help them both out. So with all apologies to Jay-Z, this track is hip hop at its finest.

Having said all that, here at PPG Industries we're moving at the speed of the fast approaching warm weather. Last night as I picked the first fresh rhubarb of the season, Fizzy laid out in the middle of street while Betty followed her nose down a block or two. In other words, a typical early Spring evening at the Church as the oven preheated. What is not typical however, is that all the pies listed below are all baked and cooling as we speak. So here goes, Market Menu for Saturday, May 4th:

2 Betty Lou-Berry (blueberries and raspberries - one gluten-free)
2 The Darryl (strawberry-rhubarb - one gluten free)
1 Violet (blueberry)
1 Fizzyberry (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)

Looking forward to seeing y'all tomorrow for the first farmer's market of 2013. I'm excited for what should be a banner weekend in Missoula: starting with tonite's First Friday, tomorrow's opening of the market season, tomorrow afternoon's 21st Missoula Brewfest at Caras Park from 12 to 8 pm and Cinco de Mayo on Sunday with lots of sunshine and temps in the 70s to go around the whole time.

Time to blast off Missoula.


06 April 2013

The Magic is Back - Chris Davis and the 2013 Baltimore Orioles

"You put him in the Grand Canyon, he'll hit it out" - Adam Jones

As the spring sun shines and temperatures reach the 60s, sure enough Major League Baseball is upon us once more.  This season, the Baltimore Orioles are tasked with living up to the expectations that result from last year's magical playoff run.

Show 'em your badge!  You can call him one-pitch Chris or just The Deputy
Their start has been nothing short of historically prolific.  The Birds are 3-1, perched atop the American League East and while baseball is a team game, they have gotten there largely on the strength of first baseman Chris Davis.

Davis was brought to Baltimore two seasons ago, along with Tommy Hunter, in the midseason Koji Uehara deal.  His expectations have been minimal yet his production at the plate increased greatly last year as he split time in right field, the designated hitter role and first base.  Hitting 33 home runs in 515 at bats helped earn Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter's trust in not picking up the club option on first baseman Mark Reynolds' (known as the Sheriff) contract or seeking out a high priced free agent to come into town and claim the job.

As such, Davis was offered the first base job by Manager Buck Showalter in spring training.  Davis ended last season hitting seven home runs in the final seven games, then earned the first base job after a strong spring and has continued his upward trend in a major way to begin 2013.

His eighth-inning grand slam yesterday put the O's up for good, 9-5.  Thus far, Davis has 9 hits in 15 at bats and an exclamatory 4 home runs and 16 RBI overall.  He ties Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz for hitting four home runs in each of the first four games of a new season.  His 16 RBI breaks the old record of 12 for most in any four game stretch (since stats like these have been recorded since 1920).  While all paces are ridiculous, Davis' current one reaches the height of absurdity: After four games, he projects to finish with 162 home runs and 648 RBI in 2013.

No player has ever hit five home runs in five games to open the season and that is the history Davis chases tonight as the Orioles take on the Minnesota Twins for the second game of a three game set in Baltimore.  Until then, here's video from Davis' heroics yesterday at Camden Yards:

Here's some more cool stats on Davis' start, courtesy of ESPN's great Stats & Info blog:


'Til next time, Go Birds!

29 March 2013

Peter the Pie Guy Pie Academy

You too, can craft delectable pie art with the help of Yours Truly

Opening Sunday, April 7, 2013 and running until Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's Friday, March 29th which means it's almost that time of year again for High Pie Season at the Clark Fork River Market here in Missoula, MT.

The Clark Fork River Market begins five weeks from tomorrow, Saturday, May 4th.

In the meantime, beginning next week I will be offering Peter the Pie Guy Pie Academy classes in my kitchen on every Saturday and Sunday beginning April 7th and then switching to Sundays ONLY from May 4th running up until Sunday, June 16th.  So if you have any desire to learn the art of baking pies from Missoula's #1 Pie Artist, you'll have to take advantage of this academy for this limited three-month window only.

Here are the Pie Academy parameters:

  • I will be teaching as many as/no more than three classes per day.  
  • These classes will run for two hours.  
  • Academy attendance will cost $50 for the class for one person 
  • Groups will be limited to three people.  
  • The two additional people in a given group can attend for an extra $25.  
  • So for a group of two and/or three people you'd be looking at $75 or $100 respectively.  

What your payment entails:

  • PPG Perfect Pie Crust instruction & construction
  • The Original PPG Perfect Pie Crust Recipe in one of my three varieties: Traditional, Gluten-Free or Vegan
  • One PPG original recipe of your choosing that we (you) will practice and work (bake) with.

I will provide all requisite baking ingredients and materials.  Therefore, you just show up ready to bake and I will be sure to send you home with a concoction of your own preference.

So to summarize, for one person you pay $50 and you get two recipes and two hours of pie crust/pie instruction and one pie (9") to take home.

To book a Pie Academy class, please contact me through this website's contact tab, or here by blog posting, or through Facebook per usual.


Scenes from the Pie Guy's Rhubarb Patch (March 28, 2013)
Lastly, please bear in mind the first Sunday, April 7th the Academy Kitchen/Pie Lab is already fully booked but there are plenty of open spots going forward.

Otherwise, my rhubarb patch is sprouting and I am beginning to warm up the pie machine...

Spring Greetings to all my pie peeps!