The Pie Inside Us All


In awarding the prize for Best Savory Pie at the big Pie Contest in the Ninth Square last night, Matt Feiner of Devil’s Gear Bike Shop announced that he was physically ill from eating too much pie. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “I may throw up.” But this was because all the pies were so good, he was quick to add.

My family was as excited about the lead-in to the event as we were about the eating at it. We each baked a pie. None of our pies won a prize, but the beauty of the event is that we got to taste many of the winning entries. That’s a prize in itself.

Over 80 folks brought pies to “Pie On9” Pie Contest, which benefited CitySeed’s Food Stamp Double Value Program. Hundreds were there to eat them. Ashley’s provided ice cream to complement the slices.

This was one of those full-blown “On9” affairs with events at multiple Ninth Square storefronts as well as outdoors. We couldn’t drag ourselves away from the pie, however. Few could. This felt like a smalltown Midwestern summer pie social, only it was happening in a good-sized Eastern hipster city. At least three mayoral candidates (Harp, Fernandez and Elicker, naturally) showed up, which suggested that this was THE place to be.

Three of my family’s four pies were completely devoured. The fourth had a few slices untouched, probably because it contained the single most popular fruit of the evening, blueberries, which are ubiquitous at farmers’ markets right now.

Here’s the recipe for what I brought. My parents came from the United Kingdom, so I grew up eating a lot of kidney pie. When I became a vegetarian 20 years ago, I needed to find an alternative. I now have this pie (or some variation of it) every year on my birthday. I’m sometimes the only one in the family eating it, but that’s mainly because nobody else is as crazy about mushrooms as I am.

Savory Mushroom/Tofu (Fake Kidney) Pie

One pound extra-firm Tofu

One pound Mushrooms

One tablespoon chopped fresh Basil

One yellow onion, or two shallots

One medium-size green pepper

One small tomato

Pinch of chili powder

Two cubes bouillon dissolved in one cup broth (or one cup salty homemade broth)

Olive oil

Simple Pie Crust (with top and bottom crust): water, margarine and whole-wheat flour

Cut tofu into cubes. Fry with a little olive oil in a large frying pan until the tofu is even firmer. Remove from frying pan and place in large bowl.

Fry onions in frying pan.

Chop mushrooms and pepper and add to onions in pan. Add basil and chili powder. Cook a little, then add the cup of broth to the pan. Simmer and stir until nearly all the water has boiled away and a thick gravy is left.

Add vegetable/gravy to tofu in bowl and mix thoroughly. Chop up the tomato and add that too.

Pour contents of bowl into prepared pie crust in average-sized pie plate. Add top crust.

Bake in a 400 degree oven long enough for the crust to brown. Bring to Pie Contest.