Monday, March 1, 2010

Sisterhood, Olympics and Pie

Last month Southwest Virginia was blanketed by snow. That's the last time I want to see "snow" and "blanketed" in the same sentence. First of all, it's a cliche and second of all, blankets are warm and soft and cozy. Snow is cold, hard and keeps you trapped in the house with your husband and kids. All of whom expect you to cook 24/7. Oh yeah - it's fun for you, but for women it's like this:

My Facebook community was divided into two camps: Those who just love the snow and think it's so pretty, and normal people who felt trapped like rats. I de-friended the first group and planned a party with the second. One of us (the one with the most brain cells left-her kids are away at college) suggested that we get together for a potluck dinner and watch the Olympics - specifically the women's figure skating final. None of us is from South Korea and therefore had no dog in this race, but it seemed like a good excuse to celebrate the escape from our families who by this time were making us nuts.

After making us all promise that we would not under any circumstances open any closed doors in her house, Dana volunteered to serve as hostess. Actually, that should be a standard rule among women who hate to clean. If you walk into our houses and there is one sparkling room, you can guarandamntee that behind a closed door somewhere is all the crap that used to be in said room.

So what should we all bring? Something Canadian, of course. I immediately volunteer for dessert because, well because that's what I do. Also, I do not want to get stuck with a Canadian main dish that may very well begin with these instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Bone a moose

Dana attempts to organize the menu and is thwarted by my attempts to butt in. In my defense, I am a professional and if there isn't a protein, starch, veg, salad, bread and dessert my head will explode. Karen, a nurse, has to work late and so I suggest she bring a cordial. I'm not even really sure what a "cordial" is, but it sounds welcoming and drinky. I snarkily tell Dana she can get out her "cordial glasses". It turns out she actually has some and has moved up a notch on my "impressive friends" list. If we had met at my house, the cordial would have been served in Dixie bathroom cups. Karen brings limoncello and is my new best friend.

Here's what we finally wound up with:

A Canadian meat pie (my best instincts had me avoid asking what kind of meat)
Scalloped potatoes
Penne rigate with spicy sausage
Broccoli in a lemon butter sauce
Some kind of cheese dip that no cardiac patient should have been eating - but I did.
Salad with a yummy homemade dill ranch dressing
A large round of freshly-baked garlicky bread from our favorite local bakery
Lindt candies and Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies
Large iced cookies in the shape of shamrocks
Maple oatmeal pie
Lemon chess pie
Three kinds of wine and the limoncello*

*This last is why we never did get around to watching figure skating.

We laughed. We cried. (Okay - I cried, but I'm very emotional). We sistered. It was wonderful.

The Maple Oatmeal Pie is something I developed for my son - an oatmeal fanatic. I thought I was being extremely clever and wonderfully motherly, but it turns out there are lots of recipes for this same kind of pie. It could also be called a Breakfast Pie because that's what it tastes like. I baked it for this party because of the maple part. Canada? Maple leaves? I started out with a basic pecan pie-type filling and went from there. It is an amazing pie. Served warm with vanilla ice cream makes this a weird breakfast - but a good one.


Make a pie crust. You can use the recipe from this site, or buy those Pillsbury pie crusts which are actually quite good.

Put crust in a standard pie pan and flute the edges.

For the filling:

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff preferably)
1/4 c (1/2 stick) melted butter
3 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coconut
1 cup very finely ground walnuts or pecans*

In a large mixing bowl, mix well the first 4 ingredients. Add everything else and stir until combined thoroughly. Pour into the pie crust and bake for about 50 minutes at 350 or until it sets up. (Should not jiggle in the middle. I shouldn't either, but I do).

*Be careful when grinding nuts. A minute too much and you have butter.

This pie will feed your tummy. If you want to feed your soul, get together with your women friends and eat 'til you groan. One thing you will discover: You're not in this alone.