Mission Im-pie-sible

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love2bake
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/01 19:50:07 (permalink)
In San Antonio I visited a friend from cooking school, and he took me all over the city, sharing so much history and culture--he was a fantastic ambassador.  However, not once did we go to any of the famous BBQ places in that city, and I didn't want to be impolite and insist on it.   
 
One place we visited was the new Culinary Institute of America there, and we toured, chatted with students, and stopped by their little cafe.  Check out some of the cool architectural details here.  Look closely at this ceiling fixture!

 
Here's another one:

 
And a door handle:

 
At the cafe, the students are making beautiful pastries.  How's this for a banana cream tart?

 
This alfajores was delicious:

 
Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of this beauty:

 
Heading west, a hotel in Ft. Stockton, TX had the cutest waffles I'd ever seen.  Might not be new to seasoned Road fooders but it was to me!

 
The next great food stop I made was Nellie's in Las Cruces, NM.  http://roadfood.com/Resta..t/Overview/4041/nellies
I got the steak dish they recommended as everyone's favorite:

 
As I was leaving, a customer outside asked if I liked sweets.  Seriously!!!  (Did I give that away?)  She recommended a bakery that was on my way back to I-10, and that turned into a fun find.
 
The best clue that there's a bakery in this shopping area is this truck parked at the edge of the lot next to the street:

 
The place was just packed with goodies, and I struggled to make decisions.  (Okay--that happens at most bakeries!)  Here's what I got:
 
A very fresh doughnut:

 
A guava empanada:

 
Polvorones and biscochitos:

 
And a chocolate croissant that was actually deep chocolate ganache wrapped in doughnut dough, and glazed:

 
All in all, this was a very fun stop, and I hope this place survives!
 
Next stop will be Tucson, AZ and more points west.
 
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/03 16:33:44
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/03 08:44:26 (permalink)
Almost home from the 2011 trip, I stopped at Gus Balon's in Tucson, AZ.  http://roadfood.com/Resta...verview/592/gus-balons
 
While I was drawn in by their highly acclaimed cinnamon rolls, it was their breakfast burger that blew me away.

 
It's a large sausage patty topped with an egg, cheese, and crispy bacon, on a delicious house-made roll, and it is outstanding!  I also loved the home fries that came with it--simple and potato-y.  If there was anything like this in my neighborhood, I'd go there often.
 
Also known for their pies, I tried two.  Raisin:

 
And raspberry:

 
While both of these pies had more thickening in them than I prefer, it wouldn't stop me from going back and trying some of their other pies!
 
After another shameless stop at the Donut Man in Glendora, CA, my 2011 trip came to a close.
 
Here's one of their cream cheese frosted doughnuts:

 
A freshly filled blueberry "shortcake":

 
And a chocolate bar:

I should be embarrassed, but I'm not.
This concludes the 2011 trip!  Next up, 2012--another 7,500 miles via I-40 and I-80, and way more pies.
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/03 16:37:41
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CCinNJ
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/03 10:21:25 (permalink)
Don't be embarassed about your chocolate bar. It's impressive!

Excellent report L2B!!

Donuts are my favorite!
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/03 15:15:32 (permalink)
Embarrassed... Hell! 
 
Loved your trip, pictures and commentary.  Writing down the Las Cruces stops, but I always seem to be there at the wrong time of day.
 
The Texas waffle is cute, but I'd feel cheated unless it was huge.  The corners are missing!
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/03 23:14:19 (permalink)
The table full of pies from Tippin's reminds me of the good old days. Tippins started out as a restaurant and pie pantry in Overland Park, KS in 79-80. My older sister got a job working the pie case three nights a week. They started out with about 20 different pies and got up to between 35 and 40 before they scaled back. They used no preservatives so the pies only had a 2 day sale date. After closing the employees got to take home all the expired pies that they wanted for .25 cents each. My sister had instructions to bring home one fruit pie and one other. My dad is a fruit pie guy whose motto is, "there is always room for pie", so the fruit pie was for him. My mom had a weakness for French Silk; my sister Lemon Meringue; my brother Chocolate Peanut Butter; and mine was Butterscotch Meringue. My sister worked one school night and the weekend. She would get home around midnight on the school night and would yell, "pie" as she came in the door. Everyone would get out of bed and enjoy a piece of pie and a tall glass of cold milk. I hated it when she went off the college!
 
They grew to 10 or 15 locations but went bankrupt in the mid 90's. The recipes were bought by a local grocer and a limited variety are sold all over the Greater Kansas City area.
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love2bake
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/03 23:51:44 (permalink)
Wow CNW - thank you for sharing those stories and family memories! That's awesome.    It must've been so much fun to get to try all those pies!!  Apparently the people who took over Tippin's competed in the 2011 National Pie Championships and won some first place ribbons!  (I found them on Facebook.)  They also participated in the Never Ending Pie Buffet at the Great American Pie Festival held that same weekend.  I'll look for them at this year's competition and try to taste their pies.
 
Mar - The corners of Texas are missing???  Yikes!  Maybe they defected to Louisiana.  Or Oklahoma? " />  Anyway, the waffles were "free" at the hotel, which made me happy. 
 
CC - Fortunately (or not), this year I will fly to Florida and completely miss the Donut Man.  Sigh...
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/04 03:10:04 (permalink)
Very impressive report! Thanks so much for sharing it all...........
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/05 10:49:43 (permalink)
Thank you!!!  That was the 2011 trip, so now let's fast forward to 2012.
 
Taking I-40 east, there was no Donut Man (sigh...), so my first food stop was in Barstow, CA, at Tom's Burgers.  It looked like a local, "quick-casual" place, and apparently is also a stop for tour buses, as there's a McDonald's next door, too.  There were two big buses in the lot when I arrived, but I hustled to get out of my car before they got out of the bus, so didn't have to stand in a huge line.  They have many stations, but even at that, the lines were crazy.  This place is efficient, and I ordered a breakfast steak sandwich (they asked how I wanted it cooked), and my order was up quickly.

 
I have nothing to report from my next stop in Flagstaff, AZ, because I got chills and shaky, and honestly thought I was coming down with the flu, and almost turned around and came home.  Fortunately, I was a lot better the next morning--no accounting for what happened...
 
So I stopped in Gallup, NM, and found Glenn's Bakery.  http://glennsbakery.com/

 

 
Most of the things I got wouldn't make for good pictures, but I can easily recommend this delicious little tidbit:

 And this:


The Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque, NM, is a popular destination on this site, so I stopped there. 
http://www.roadfood.com/R...iew/305/frontier  First impressions included a crazy, cobbled-together parking situation, a cool back door entrance, and then a funny little rabbit warren of dining areas, which you have to wander through to ultimately find the front counter where you order.  Back door entrance:

 
What I loved about Frontier was the opportunity to try a lot of their specialties for a small amount of money ($2.50 +/- for a small cup)--probably due to its location across from the college campus.  I was able to sample their renowned green chili stew (very spicy on my wimpy scale, but probably not others):

 
Posole (my favorite):

 
Accompanied by their freshly made tortillas (and guacamole not pictured):

 
And a cinnamon bun:

 
The thing to know about this cinnamon roll is that it is absolutely meant to be eaten warm.  It's not your typical frosting, and when you heat it it melts; if not, it's totally greasy.  The above pic is in the pre-warmed state.
 
More from the 2012 journey to come!
 
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/16 14:22:00
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the grillman
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/05 16:39:05 (permalink)
Pie is the best dessert in the world.  bar none.
 

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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/05 17:35:54 (permalink)
Can't argue with that.
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/05 20:21:17 (permalink)
We stopped at the Frontier several years ago.  I also ordered several tiny sized offerings so that I could experience different tastes.
 
We had the cinnamon roll in its cold state so maybe that is why we would never recommend it.
 
I found Frontier a place to try once.  It's different but there are so many other places to try.
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/05 23:22:56 (permalink)
Amen, grillman.
 
Mar - we think a lot alike!!!
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/06 23:38:10 (permalink)
Yee haw, my next major stop was in Amarillo, TX, at the Stockyard Cafe. 
http://www.roadfood.com/R...iew/264/stockyard-cafe
It's kind of hard to find, but soooo worth it for the CFS and outstanding cream gravy, real mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, and mega-sized sweet tea.  I took the photo before smothering the steak with the gravy.  It's different--I think they use a flattop griddle, rather than cooking it in a skillet or as some do--deep frying.

 
On Tuesdays when the auction house is running at full tilt, they have a shoe/boot shine service that can clean anything except man-made materials:

 
One other thing I appreciated about the Stockyard Cafe was that they brought out some water for my puppy while we waited outside the door to the restaurant.
 
Apparently zipping right through Oklahoma with no significant food stops, I headed for what's by far the most unusual pie experience I've ever had, thanks to Michael Stern and this Web site:  the Family Pie Shop in DeValls, Arkansas. 
http://www.roadfood.com/R...16-316/family-pie-shop
My GPS failed to provide accurate directions (in fact, was miles short), but it got me close enough to call and find out the specific location.  Since the building is behind a house, it's easy to miss!  I'm sure some of you are familiar with it:

 
This was a leap of faith, as the building is time worn, and the interior more like my grandmother's old farm house in Tennessee with an eclectic mix of furnishings in a sitting room in front of the kitchen where all the pie action is.
 
It was so hot the day I was there, and here were these dear, old women baking their pies with heart, soul, and love.  The selection of pies varies, and most were sold out by the time I got there in late afternoon.  Still, I got to try the delicious chocolate cream pie and their flaky and wonderfully spiced apricot fried pie.

 

 
I did not take any photos of the owner/baker or anything else there, as that was her preference.  I'm glad others before me have taken some, though!
 
After this, I headed to Memphis, TN, with ribs on the brain.  I had bookmarked a few places already, but when I got to the hotel I asked them where they recommended that would not be too hard to get to (the roads were a huge mess from construction).  They sent me to Corky's.

 
This order was half dry, half wet--the dry being a new thing for me, which I loved.  I'm not a connoisseur of ribs, but I definitely enjoyed these.  They were flavorful and tender, and I ate them until I thought I would pop.  I did not take up belly space on the side dishes, even though they were fine and included house-made potato chips.  I so want to try some of the other places in town, too, but have no idea when that might be.  This was a nice way to start for a rib newbie. 
 
The next couple of days I spent with kinfolk in Chattanooga, TN, and we went back to the area where my grandma and grandpa had their farm near Chickamauga Lake.  The power plant is there now, just a short distance from where their farm was--it was the Tennessee Valley Authority that bought up all the land in that area.

 
What I would give to be back in that time, and on that farm, and sitting at the dining table with my grandparents and cousins, eating their home-made sausage and hams and vegetables, helping pat home-churned butter into beautiful wooden molds, and outside shucking corn, feeding the chickens and pigs, and visiting with the cows, mules, and yard dogs.  Good times.
 
Taking a break.  Back soon!
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/06 23:44:52
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 13:37:47 (permalink)
Your last picture makes me want huge, mega-giant marshmallows.
 
Without a map I'm trying to figure your route through Oklahoma.
 
On your word alone the next time we're driving through Amarillo we'll try The Stockyard.  The Big Texan has been crossed off our list but we would still eat there, time permitting.
 
Now for those ribs... Outstanding photograph!  Looks like a mountains of ribs next to a river of sauce.  I'd be happy to camp out there when in Memphis which might happen the next time we go to Texas.
 
You are my new food guide, love2bake!
 
PS..  sorry, but pies usually don't excite me... unless it's banana cream or lemon chess with a candied walnut topping which I can't find anywhere.
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 13:44:29 (permalink)
Curiosity got the best of me and I just checked a map.
I don't know your timing on I40, but the next time you drive through El Reno, Oklahoma try to stop for an onion burger.. if you like burgers... and onions.  Sid's has outdoor seating and was happy to fix a plain hamburger patty for the dogs. 
Poverty Pete
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 13:59:29 (permalink)
The Pie Shop in DeValls Bluff uses an old Karo syrup recipe for the pecan pie.  It tastes just like the ones we had on the farm while we were growing up.
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 14:39:43 (permalink)
Last year we called ahead (the day before) to order three pies for pickup as we passed thru Devalls Bluff. Those same ladies had them ready to go for us when we arrived at 5:30 AM the next mornng...in the dark.   Great breakfast...Coconut Meringue , Lemon Meringue, and Chocolate cream !
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 18:53:54 (permalink)
mayor al - I'm envious!  You were smart and planned.  I was flying by the seat of my pants.
Poverty Pete - did you grow up on a farm in Tennessee?  If not, where else?
Mar - LOL on the marshmallows!  I got an onion burger at Sid's in 2011, and was on a schedule in 2012 so didn't make a major food stop.  I've also started being more careful about how many "significant" food stops I make in a day, so I can still fit in my clothes when I get home, but sometimes I'll try a lot of things at those places.  As far as the Memphis ribs are concerned--there are lots of real experts on this site, and you'll definitely want to read what they say about where to get the best, too.  I know several people who don't care much for pie--I can respect it.   I'm not much of a cake person.  Lemon chess with candied walnuts sounds fabulous, btw.  Where did you have that?
 
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/07 20:19:13 (permalink)
There used to be a cafeteria in Pasadena named Beadles.  Friends and I would eat there every Sunday night.  I always had the lemon chess with the walnut topping.  I wish I could figure out the topping.  It may have just been walnuts and browned sugar but I don't know when it was applied to the chess pie.  The sweet and the tart worked so well together.
 
Beadles is gone but not the memory of their fabulous Lemon Chess Pie.
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/08 20:05:05 (permalink)
love2bake,  Just wonderful pictures and reporting! Thanks for sharing with all of us!
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/08 20:15:21 (permalink)
love2bake, you're pretty darned good. I am not a pie eater -- sure pumpkin pie with turkey dinners, and I had banana cream pie a bunch of years ago, plus lleechef's wonderful apple pie once -- but your report is a winner. Thanks.
love2bake
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/09 21:40:29 (permalink)
Thanks, Michael.  I'm glad to have something to contribute--I never intended to write anything about these trips!  I've been inspired by so many people here.    In a couple more "stops" I'm going to show pics of the 2012 National Pie Championships, though, so feel free to avert your eyes.
 
Mar - I looked online to see if there was any copycat recipe, too, and found zip.  Did the walnut topping cover the whole pie?  Was it crunchy?
 
Thanks, Agnes!  It's nice to share, especially because a lot of my stops came from this site and the Sterns's book about 500 places, etc.
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/09 22:31:04 (permalink)
After Chattanooga, TN, I headed again to Mexico Beach, FL (this is the 2012 trip), and stopped in Birmingham, AL, for lunch at Niki's West, another fun find from this site:  http://www.roadfood.com/R...verview/222/nikis-west
 
I hadn't seen a cafeteria like this in AGES, and it was mind-boggling to see all of those sides just steaming away.  So yes--I got a 3-vegetable plate with a corn muffin and two slices of pie.

 
It should've been a no-brainer, but fried okra is not a good candidate for a steam table!
The egg custard pie had quite a bit of nutmeg in it. (I think there's some underneath the custard as well as on top of the pie.)

 
The lemon ice box pie was classic!!!

 
Then, down in Mexico Beach, my friends and I went on a "3-hour tour" by boat out of Apalachicola.  Here are a few pics.
The tour operates out of the Maritime Museum there.  If you're into boating, this is a fun stop.

 
On the tour we saw gators...

 
and osprey nests...

 
and shipwrecks:

 
Apparently, Apalachicola is also a great place to eat oysters.  As for me, I just had beer.
 
On the way to Orlando for the pie gig, I stopped at Pouncey's in Perry, FL.

 
This sign was in front of the ordering counter.  Ooooh baby! " />

 
Here's their BBQ pork sandwich with sweet potato fries.  It came with your choice of sauces, and I picked the mild.  It was a mustard-based sauce, and since the pork was so lightly smoked and delicious, it kind of overwhelmed it.  Glad I didn't put sauce on the whole thing.

 
Next day, at the National Pie Championships, I volunteered to help the commercial pie competitors check in their pies.  Why else would I get up at this hour but for the love of pie?

 
As in the previous year, Willard Scott did his Today Show Smucker's 100-year birthday segment from the event.  They broadcast it during the 8:30 - 9:00 portion of the show.

 
I continued to help check in commercial pie entries for a few hours, then floated around to help wherever needed.  The reward, of course, was being able to taste all the commercial pies we wanted to after the judging for that day was done.  Below is one I REALLY wanted to try.  It was a raisin sour cream pie from Norske Nook, that had everyone talking, for obvious reasons:

 
I'll stop here and pick up when my judging starts on Day 2 of the pie gig.  Bye for now!
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/09 22:36:27
CCinNJ
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/09 22:48:35 (permalink)
The lemon ice box pie looks very sleek!

The raisin sour cream pie looks like it's to scale for the dessert case of Harold's Deli in Edison NJ.
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/10 01:32:26 (permalink)
Love2bake:  When you did your searching for the walnut topped lemon chess pie did you see my name attached to all the queries?'
 
The walnut topping was crunch, covered the entire top and was almost like a candy topping.  Not hard enough where you couldn't put your for through it without a problem.  Just perfect.
 
Love your boat tour pictures.  Imagine... an alligator and a ship wreck!
 
Those pies!  One of these days I'll have to order a raisin sour cream pie.  I'll also have to order something I know I like along with it.
 
Maybe a lemon ice box pie.
 
Thanks. 
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/11 10:52:11 (permalink)
Ha--CC--I had to look up Harold's to see what you were talking about.  Holy mackerel!!!  Perfect fit.
 
Mar - I sure did see your name attached!  I'll try to figure out the topping for you.  Surely there must be a similar topping on another pie that would transfer to this one.  My next post will have a lot of pie pics--still, only a few of the 2012 amateur entries will be represented.
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/11 23:55:07 (permalink)
YES!!! 

 
This is what I'm here for!  It's got to be one of the most fun things you can do that's also legal.
 
Below I'm posting a small selection of the pies submitted by amateur competitors.  They show a range of creativity, skill, effort and vision.

What kind of pie category was this one entered in?

 
If you guessed apple (there are a couple of clues), you'd be right!  This wasn't the only pie that blurred the category lines.
 
Here's a trend we saw this year:  bling! 

 
Yep--that's edible glitter on there. Here's what the whole pie looked like:

 
A lot of work went into this nut pie with chocolate decorations:

 
Here are a couple of unique entries in the "open" category:

 

 
A beautiful entry in the citrus category--it had lemon, orange, and lime mousse-like layers inside.

 
Another luscious looking pie:

 
Pecan pie!  (Sorry if some of these are a little blurry.)

 

 
And the Best of Show winner - a banana cream pie:
The recipe for the above pie can be found here:  http://www.piecouncil.org/2012entry?entry=1107
 
Bakers from the competition and attendees at the Great American Pie Festival await the announcements of the winners:

 
John Sunvold won several awards, including Best of Show.  Next to him is Linda Hoskins from the American Pie Council, and behind him are more 2012 first place winners.

 
More pies to come on my next post, which will be about the professional and junior chef pie divisions.  Back soon!
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/11 23:59:36
mar52
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/12 00:34:36 (permalink)
That brings back so many memories.  I used to do cooking contests, but never pies.
 
Of all of those I'd like to try the citrus pie... and I'm not fond of mousse.
 
I like the look of the strawberry lattice topping.
 
What fun you have!
CCinNJ
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/12 00:36:19 (permalink)
Gorgeous entries!

When it comes to trends in a contest like this...do you think they start from one or a few new things unveiled in a previous year...or started from outside research of new bedazzling products...techniques...creations discovered on blogs or by popular Pastry Chef featured in the media?

Once a pie has won an award in the amateur category...is the recipe retired (it's out there) or can it be submitted again for a future contest?
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Re:Mission Im-pie-sible 2013/03/12 10:27:01 (permalink)
Mar - it's big fun for a pie lover.  I hope to see some Roadfood pie fans there in the future!  Here's the recipe for the citrus category winner:  http://www.piecouncil.org/2012entry?entry=1116
 
CC - Yep, you're right!  Often a trend comes from a previous year's winner in either amateur, professional or commercial divisions.  That explains the bling in 2012, but I don't know for certain whether it caused the braided pie crust trend we saw in 2011, because that was my first year there.  All the winning recipes from the past few years are available on the American Pie Council's Web site and cannot be submitted in the future, as all entries must be original.  (Of course, there are probably a lot of adaptations!)
http://www.piecouncil.org/recipes
post edited by love2bake - 2013/03/12 10:40:36
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