Friday, March 13, 2009

Pi Day

Pi, as in the oft remembered 3.14. Tomorrow is Pi day 3.14.09. It is also Albert Einstein's birthday as I'm reminded by the due any day now, redheaded Amy Anne.

Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. :::yawn::: There goes my readership of two. But it's pretty useful stuff if you're an engineer. Growing up in a 2nd generation Boeing family, with Dad and my brother, as well as my career being predominately at Boeing, I've never let the fact that I personally wasn't an engineer, ever rain on my parade. I adore engineers. Especially Boeing engineers. Hey Seattle!

So let's all celebrate Pi day. Why let the engineers have all the fun? ::Shout out to my aeronautical and electric engineering friends at Boeing!:::

You could do the homeschooling option of "Hey, let's measure the circumference of everything circular and discover it's radius." But my homeschooler nixed that one, thankyouverymuch.

How about bake a pie? It has a circumference, and kiddo#2 said he'd be glad to eat a piece of pie, which involved cutting a radius across it, of course.

It's also Albert Einstein's birthday tomorrow. I feel almost morally obligated to put a birthday candle in that pie and sing.. but I'll resist. In case you cannot, you may still have a slice of pie in his honor. Since I was raised mostly in Washington state and now reside in the other apple state, New York, only apple pie will do for Pi Day.

Use your favorite apple variety and add sugar according to its sweetness. If you're new to baking apple pies, then add 1/2 cup of sugar, taste the filling, and go up from there to 1 cup if your apples are granny smith apple tart.

It's Pi day Apple Pie
a variation by KelliSue Kolz

1½ hours 35 min prep
SERVES 6 -8
7 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar or Splenda Sweetener for diabetics -see directions below
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest, just the yellow, finely zested
2 tablespoons butter or vegan margarine

Pastry for double crust pie
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup lard or butter or vegan shortening - very very cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ice cold water (you'll not need more than 1/2 cup depending on the flour's humidity)

Pastry for double crust pie-------------.
Combine flour, lard and salt with a pastry blender or fork until balls are the size of a large pea.
Add cold water by the tablespoonful and blend until the bowl starts to clean itself as you work the dough. Pat into two nice round discs about as big as your hand, then wrap in plastic wrap or put in a zipper plastic bag, and put in the refrigerator while you mix the filling.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine sliced apples with 1/2 cup of sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon rind. Taste, and see if you desire more sugar, up to an additional 1/2 cup more. Less is better, really. When you're happy with the sweetening, remove the pastry discs from the refrigerator.

On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust about 1/2 larger than the circumference of the pie. It's pie day after all, so remember, that's 3.14 x the radius of the pie plate.

Line pie plate with unbaked pie crust, trim pastry, crimp (or press with a fork) to edge of pie plate. Trim excess. Repeat rolling directions for the top crust, cut out a cute little apple shape in the middle, saving the apple insert for a treat for the children or your room-mate and cover with a towel briefly while you fill the pie. The little apple bit can be baked on a little cake pan, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. This is what memories are made of, on Pi day.

Fill pie crust with apple mixture and dot with softened butter.

Brush crust edge with water and place pie crust top on top of pie, crimp to the bottom crust.

Make some slits in the top crust for steam to escape. Bake for 55 minutes. Cooking time may be vary somewhat according to how thick you sliced your apples, as well as what variety they are.

If you find your pie crust edges are turning shockingly brown at minute 30, please feel free to cover them with a piece of aluminum foil hastily fastened around the perimeter of the pie pan. There's no shame in that. Be careful, that's when you might accidentally knock of the edge of some crust, so proceed with caution.

When your pie is presumed to be finished baking, very carefully, with a sharp knife, pierce through that apple shaped cutout, and test an apple slice with the tip of the knife. You're looking for little to no resistance, you want tender apples, not crunchy ones.

Let cool a little bit, then serve warm with either a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, or a scoop of icecream. That will be soydelicious frozen dessert for my lactose intolerant Andy.