Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Pi," or, "That One Time When I Read the Communist Manifesto with my Hand Stuck in a Freezer."

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148, etc...
otherwise known as
is one of the coolest pieces of truth this world has been blessed with. Now, I am no mathematician, but I believe in pi.  This mathematical constant--in all its irrational, transcendent glory--is used in many formulae in subjects such as math (surprise), the sciences, and engineering. Its strong presence across so many parts of life makes it one of the most important constants that we know of. So important, in fact, that it has its own holiday. A couple, actually, if you count Pi Approximation Day (I don't know of anyone who does, though).  How many math and science facts can boast their own holiday?  I mean, there's Mole Day, but the only people who really care about that are the chemists. All kinds of people care about Pi Day.  Probably, because we celebrate it by eating pie.

I love Pi Day, mostly because I celebrate it by MAKING pie. 

My friend, Nathan, throws a Pi Day party every year.  I was invited this year. I helped throw the party last year, and between the party and his request to make pies for his office (anyone who spends their life in the Talmage Building deserves pie) I made a dozen pies. This year, then, it only made sense to make 13 pies. 
Fabulous ones. 
(There were other, more important reasons for making the pies--I promise I'm not crazy--but they don't really matter to the general public and I want to cut to the chase and show you the pictures now, eh)

pi Day 2012

This one is my masterpiece--Italian Meringue Blueberry.

 Pretty much every part of this pie went wrong. However, We got it--blueberry-rum compote, under lemon curd, under lemon cream, under meringue, browned with a blowtorch and topped with fresh blueberries and candied lemon peel. 

  Apple-Caramel Pie.  Probably the tastiest pie I've made. Flavored it with cardamom and some other spices, plus decided to actually make a caramel syrup instead of just coat the apples in sugar.  ^_^

Pretty classic banana cream. I did use real banana pudding and whipped cream, though, so it was super tasty. Sam marbled it really well, didn't she?

Brown-Sugar-Pop-Tart Pie.  Imade this one up, sort-of on accident (some of my best recipes come from something like that, eh)  Not actually made with Pop Tarts, but that's what it tasted like. Basically brown sugar streusel soaked into a molasses-corn syrup-brown sugar syrup, baked, coated in dark brown sugar/molasses syrup, piled with brown sugar cheesecake, topped with brown sugar....


Classic Cherry-Almond pie. After and before pictures--it cracked when it baked, but it had a great color.   I cut the honeycomb pattern out with a test tube one of my chemistry-student roommates gave me back in the day. I thought it was appropriate for the day.

Chocolate-Orange Mousse Pie.  This one was my own recipe!  I was a little nervous it would be gross--it was a total experiment--but it was Nate's favorite, and Milly's, so I guess it's a keeper. It has a marmalade sauce on the bottom with candied orange peel, marmalade, and sugar; I topped that with a dark-chocolate marshmallow mousse (I seeped the milk for it with orange peel and added orange extract), folded in some whipped cream--real stuff, not Cool Whip, I beg you--and then made it pretty. Yummy. 

Toasted Coconut Cream Pie. Pretty straight-forward.  I cooked up some coconut pudding (with some vanilla), poured it in a graham crust, and topped it with coconut whipped cream (Did you know you can whip coconut cream? Delish) and toasted coconut (I toasted it on the stove top in a non-stick pan for ease and control).
Dutch-Apple Pie. No, there are no Dutchmen in the pie (shout-out to Sweeny Todd!), though it does kind of look like a mounded grave.  It's just apple pie with a crumble topping. .

                     A delicious apple pie.
               With delicious crumble topping.
     One of my favorite things to do with dessert     crumbles is to add vanilla powder. I discovered it by accident while making dinner with my band director's wife.  But what a fantastic discovery!

Hot Fudge Pie.  Kind of a lava cake, kind of a brownie, mostly pie. Topped with toasted marshmallows and various chocolate chips. 

I think next year I'll add some toasted nut to it, for a Rocky Road pie....or maybe some grahams for a S'mores Pie....oh, the possibilities!
This pie is pretty enough for two pictures.  Also, I burned my hand pretty solidly while making the Key Lime Pie this year, so I think it should count twice (I actually made 3 key lime pies--I burned my hand making the other 2-- but the other two are not pictured. So this pie is technically innocent, but I count it as guilty for association).  But it is probably the prettiest pie I made.  Shout out to my mandolin, to Jessica, and to Kitto for making this pie possible, even while I was stuck attempting home burn-care for 5 hours or so (=running water, still water, ice, medicine, topical antibacterial cream, a blessing, hand in the freezer for over an hour while reading for class [see title of post], sleep for two hours, get up to make pie.)

This pie was the first one gone-- it's a frozen Peanut Butter Chocolate pie.  Also my recipe, though on accident. I was going to do Peanut Butter Crack pie, but this seemed like a better idea.  It's a super-dense, creamy peanut butter filling on a chocolate crust, topped with dark chocolate whipped cream, hot fudge, peanut sauce, and mini chocolate chips.

                  It didn't last long.  :-)

These were the Pi Crusts.  The one on the left starts with pi and goes through the first 8 or so digits of pi; the one on the right does the same thing in Roman Numerals (allowing the crust to fit more digits of pi, and providing a reminder for the next day's Ides of March)
Then I filled them with pumpkin custard.

And baked them into pumkin pie. The top one got a little dark.

I actually had extra pie innards--it's a common problem when I make pumpkin pie--but with some creative additions of buttermilk, eggs, baking powder, and flour, (and some leftover pecans, melted butter, and brown sugar), I had some pretty delicious pumpkin pancakes on my hands.  Top them with some of the leftover brown sugar cheesecake, and my friends got some tasty din-din.

So, there we have it, folks.  Only a few more years til Pi Day 2015 (3.14.15), which, by order of kairos and and the dictates of nerdiness everywhere, must be the most epic Pi Day of our lifetimes thus far.  That means only a few years to gather the most fantastic pie recipes--both sweet and savory, both simple and spectacular, both small and sizeable--and practice them to perfection.

Can't wait. ^_^

PS I have a personal goal of memorizing 314 digits of pi. There is no rationality to this desire, as Nate pointed out, as one needs only 30-something digits to approximate the size of anything in the known universe. However, I stick to my original goal, on the logic that pi itself is irrational. (haha I'm so punny  funny!)  This year, I made it to 116 digits.  198 more to go!

To read more about the wonder and general magical-ness that is pi, I highly suggest the well-renowned Wikipedia.

No comments: