Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pie Tally So Far

Janice, the producer/cameraperson on the shoot, was complaining this morning that she is gaining weight on this trip. First, I told her, "You really haven't had that much pie. You only had one bite of coconut cream and you didn't eat any apple yesteday." And then I said with a teasing grin, "Don't blame pie."

However, this did make me wonder, just how much pie have we consumed in the past 5 days?

Here's the tally so far:

Monday: Triple Berry (2 pieces -- small ones)
Tuesday: Coconut Cream (1 piece)
Wednesday: Sweet Potato and Pecan (1-1/2 pieces of each -- oh, the calories!)
Thursday: Apple a la mode with cinnamon sauce (1 piece)
Friday: Apple (1 piece for breakfast)

Day 4: TV Pilot -- Oak Glen, California

We debated whether or not we should cancel our scheduled visit to Oak Glen (elevation 2,800) as it had snowed the previous day. We didn't want to get stuck with the RV -- and even though I bought chains before leaving Portland, my goal was to never get myself into a situation where I would have to use them.
Alas, we motored up the mountain in the rain and, though it was COLD, MISERABLE and WET, we arrived safely. No snow!
I can't think of any better way to spend a cold, miserable, wet day than to sit inside a cozy diner with two lovely older women and talk about pie! Below you can see where we sat for four hours with Theresa Law (age 92) and her daughter Alison at Theresa's son's restaurant called Law's Oak Glen Coffee Shop. Living up to its name, the waitress poured non-stop coffee for us.
We learned about the history of Oak Glen -- how the Mormons settled the area in the 1800s and planted the apple orchards -- and the history of the Law family -- how Theresa lost her first husband in World War II, drove cross country in the 1940s from Maine all the way to Oak Glen with her second husband, first baked pies in her wood burning stove, and when she opened her diner sold out of pies the very first day. Her baking record is 657 pies in one day.
Meanwhile, Kent (Theresa's son) was busy baking 10 apple pies back in the restaurant's kitchen. We got to watch as he made and rolled the dough. But better yet, we got to sample the goods fresh from the oven. Below, Kent's mom looks approvingly at her son's work.
Pictures speak louder than words. Need I say this was a perfect day?!
After our pie eating orgy, Alison gave us a tour of her fruit stand, Mom's Country Orchards, where we had lessons in apple varieties. She showed us apples we'd never heard of like Black Twig, Bellflower, Arkansas Black, and too many others to remember without the help of her wall chart. Alison loaded up 4 cases of apples for us to use for National Pie Day (more on that in the next post) and couldn't resist throwing in a few more of her prized produce --avocados, oranges and blood oranges.

Next stop: Back to Santa Monica for a pie-baking marathon with some close friends who will help roll dough and peel apples. The goal is to make 50 pies to give away on National Pie Day, on Saturday, January 23.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 3: TV Pilot -- Mommie Helen's in Colton, CA

Day 3 took us in search of Shaq's favorite pie -- Sweet Potato -- in Colton, California. We spent the entire afternoon with Dorothy Pryor Rose, owner of Mommie Helen's Bakery and enjoyed not only hearing about her philanthropic efforts through pie -- she gives a lot of pie away to charity -- but we especially enjoyed tasting her sweeeeeet desserts.
She wouldn't give up any recipes and her "crust room" is off limits to everyone but her trusted crust-making delegates.
Janice had these great bumper stickers made for our shoot. The piece in the sticker looks just like the one Dorothy sent home with us.
The (rainy) day ended in a not-too-exciting RV park, but we were just happy to be safe, dry, and plugged into an electrical source so we could run the heater -- and the espresso maker.

Next up: Oak Glen, California -- if it's not snowing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 2: TV Pilot -- Malibu & Venice

Yesterday I got to bake pies in my old place of employment, Malibu Kitchen. They aren't set up for pie baking the way they used to be. I couldn't find anything, including the recipe for Coconut Cream Pie, which meant our "serious" documetary turned into a standup comedy routine as I scrambled -- with the camera rolling -- searching for a rolling pin, bowl, and spoons.
Here's Janice, producer and cameraperson. If not for her love of pie we wouldn't be doing this TV pilot. And so far we are having a blast. And eating some pretty good pie.
After dropping off a fresh-baked coconut cream pie at my mom's house in Playa del Rey -- for her 73rd birthday (I missed her birthday party because of our shoot) -- we headed to Venice to host a pie baking party for a group of 30-something singles. The premise was baking a pie for a man is a sure way to land a husband! I am living proof of this, I assured them, as my mom baked my dad a banana cream pie, nailed the marriage proposal, and is still married 50 years later!
Today we are headed east to Colton, California to Mommie Helen's Bakery, whose sweet potato pie is a favorite of NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Pie of the TV Shoot

A Triple Berry Pie makes its debut on"The World Needs More Pie" TV show. This beauty was created by four 9-year-old girls during a pie baking party in Venice, California.

Today, we are driving the RV in a torrential downpour up Pacific Coast Highway -- mudslides permitting -- to visit Malibu Kitchen, the place I baked pies for a year back in 2000.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action!

The shoot for the pie TV pilot begins tomorrow. In all the preparation I contacted many different pie shops for permission to film and to arrange interviews with their pie bakers. All that talk of pie made me hungry. So when the end of my conversation with the owner of Apple Pan, one of Los Angeles' oldest and most popular pie diners, coincided with my dad's call to ask if I wanted to meet for lunch, I knew just where to go.

"Dad, how does a piece of banana cream pie sound?"

"Mmmm! That sounds great, Boo," he replied. I could have predicted the answer as banana cream is his favorite pie. We met at Apple Pan, grabbed a stool around the horseshoe-shaped counter, and each ordered a piece of the banana cream pie. (According to the owner, Sunny, banana cream is their second most popular after the apple.) It was not only luscious looking, it was delish with a sweet and flaky thin crust generously filled with bananas and topped with fluffy whipped cream. We inhaled it in record time. Yum!

No matter what the outcome with our TV show, I am definitely going to enjoy the next 12 days of pie tasting