Trifling Concerns

I bake pies.  I’m slightly, locally, famous for them, especially among the men who live in my house. And the friends and neighbors who have had a piece of my pies. And the co-worker who heard about my Thanksgiving frangipani pear pie from her friend who was present at the right Thanksgiving feast. And the guy dating a friend who pronounced my apple pie “the best pie” he’d ever eaten. You get the picture. I make fruit pies, mostly, with seasonal fresh fruit, or the occasional cranberry tart from frozen cranberries, if there are enough people to gnaw on it, as even my son can’t wolf down more than a couple pieces of that intensely-flavored tart in a day.  I do occasionally make a glamorous pecan pie to share, or the low-brow treat of peanut butter pie, for domestic consumption only. My staple, apple pie with a streusel topping, has evolved over time to include pears, nuts, raisins, and lemon zest. And with fresh Granny Smith apples always available, it’s the pie of choice for most of the year. My pie crusts have improved, over the years, from having the consistency and flavor of turtle shells to a creation both sturdy and delicate, delicious and functional.

None of which explains all the photos showing construction of a trifle, though it does explain why I took the photos. We used to have a block party in the neighborhood every Labor Day, and my contribution, always anticipated, was a labor-intensive trifle. Then the parties faded away, and I had no reason to do so much work when I could make a perfect pie for a fraction of the labor and dirty dishes. So when our next-door neighbor sent out invitations for a semi block-party/wine-tasting bash, it was the perfect opportunity to build another trifle; also, she begged me to make one. I had to borrow the cake pan from one friend, and a double boiler from the neighbor, who had to loan me the trifle cheat sheet I’d given her all those years ago. So this time, I wanted to record what I had done, for bragging rights as well as some visual instruction in case another neighbor decides to have a block party. Though, after seeing all the fiddly, fussy details, I might opt to make a couple pies instead. But give it a try yourself. The Joy of Cooking has some good recipes for sponge cake and creme anglaise, and you can use the photos for a little guidance.