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21 Days of Cookbooks – Southern Pies

Hello. My name is Kim and I am a cookbook-aholic. I’ve flagged more cookbook recipes than would be humanly possible to make in a single lifetime. Yet my obsession with acquiring new and old cookbooks persists unabated. This month I share my compulsive tendencies via the “21 Days” series, featuring some of my favorite cookbooks from local authors and publishers. Please feel free to join me in finding new cookbooks to feed our passion at any of my favorite Triangle indie book sellers: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf BooksQuail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.


If you’re going to be a baker in the South, you need to know how to make pie from the crust up. If you want just one pie cookbook, that covers everything you need to know about pie making, such as equipment, differing techniques for making pie crust, and tips like how to overcome “Meringue Anxiety”, then you need to procure a copy of Nancie McDermott‘s “Southern Pies“.

I should mention one potential drawback to owning this cookbook – you’ll want to bake every pie in the book. That’s over 60 different types of pie. If you made just one pie a week it would take more than a year to bake your way through this cookbook. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing and fortunately I have a pie-loving family who assists in eating the pies, but you decide for yourself if there’s such as thing as too much pie. 

Should you decide to risk it and bake your way through the cookbook, you could “pace” your pie making, start with the “Antiques and Heirlooms” section, recipes that feature year-round favorites like Coconut Cream Pie, a New Orleans Lemon Pie and a rich Butterscotch Pie. I do love that McDermott’s recipes allow for use of store-bought pie crust. That flexibility allowed me to build up the courage to attempt making pie crust from scratch. As it turned out, I had nothing to fear. The Butter Piecrust Recipe (page 140) was easy-peasy to make in the food processor and uses common pantry ingredients. When I make piecrust now, I usually make a double batch and freeze the unused portions for future pies.

When I first purchased the cookbook, I started with the Chess Pies towards the center of the book, then skipped right to the last chapter, all about chocolate pies (there’s a Chocolate Chess Pie recipe in that section that’s just like my mom’s). I’m holding out on the next pie making session until September, when I make a trip to the North Carolina Mountains to procure apple supplies for the Double Apple Pie (page 81). Although just browsing through the cookbook (again) and I think I’ve picked out a pie I might be able to squeeze in before the apple picking trip, a Black Walnut Pie made with dark brown sugar and sorghum. Ah yes, so many pies – so little pie-making time! But that’s not a bad thing now, is it?




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