February of each year is the Great American Pie Month. Look it up. It's true. As websites like Gone-ta-pott.com tell us, February is the month whereby we celebrate the tradition of sharing pies as a way to also celebrate the abundance of farmland production in America. But even so, something has been overlooked. With 28 days (and every four years, an additional day, but let's not quibble), there happens to be only one day set aside for an American pie -- February 20, National Cherry Pie Day. What a travesty. So what gives? Since there's no shortage of original American pie recipes out there and it is the Great American Pie Month, why aren't there at least a couple dozen more days in February set aside for the celebration of particular Great American Pies?
Now, some might think that, since every day is basically a food holiday, if you set aside each day of February for a particular American pie, it would crowd the calendar. Really? Like the calendar isn't already covered with national and international days of celebrations and commemorations. (And let's not forget the frivolous nods: Thank a Mailman Day, Toothache Day, Groundhog Day, Singles Awareness Day, Do A Grouch A Favor Day, No Brainer Day, and Public Sleeping Day -- I mean, are you kidding me?) Like you can't celebrate a National Key Lime Pie Day in February? (Officially, National Key Lime Pie Day is in October, but that's not the point. National Apple Pie Day is celebrated twice a year -- May and December -- and the Apple Pie isn't even of American invention, just the focus of a time-honored cliche). That's a lame excuse and the American Pie Council should be ashamed of itself.
Why pick on the APC? Why not? They've taken on the burden of encompassing the nation and pies all in one inclusive title, as if they are some sort of governing or advisory board (or council) or something overseeing the state and welfare of the American Pie, so they should take some responsibility for this celebratory oversight. And here's something to chew on: There is a Great American Pie Festival each year in Florida -- but it is in April, no less. April. That's almost two months after the Great American Pie Month (because the festival is held at the end of April) with its sole celebration of the lonely Cherry Pie. What kind of nonsense made for such a scheduling mistake? Whose idea was all this anyway? The U. S. Congress?
At least the Cherry Pie is of American origin.
And America is pie rich. According to The History Kitchen, "one could tell the story of our nation through pie." They list American pies like the New Orleans-based Pecan Pie, the Massachusetts-born Boston Cream Pie, the aforementioned Floridian Key Lime Pie, and the Pennsylvania Dutch treat "Shoofly Pie," which is a molasses pie.
So why only one national American-style pie day in the whole month? Who knows? But it does seem a bit presumptuous to take up an entire month, name it The Great American Pie Month, and then only set aside one day for a particular American-originated pie.
Of course, since February is also National Cherry Month, one could spread the wealth, so to speak, and have Cherry Pie all month. And since there are various types of cherries, one could actually make a variety.
And yet, it seems like such a waste of American culinary ingenuity. Pie days are scattered across the calendar, but there's no National Cranberry Pie Day or Huckleberry Pie Day or even a Shoofly Pie Day (cranberries and huckleberries being indigenous to North America and the Shoofly Pie being an original concoction of German settlers, the Pennsylvania Dutch).
So come on, American Pie Council! Do something with the entire month of February. You're letting 27 days go to waste. Put some more pie days in there to celebrate. Yeah, it's the Great American Pie Month but it could be Great-er.
But while we're all waiting, we can can bake and enjoy a bit of Cherry Pie (listening to the hit song by Warrant during is optional) while the month is upon us. Check out the various ways to construct the fruit-filled treat on FoodNetwork.com.
For those into no frills, here's a simple Cherry Pie recipe from Peter Sterk:
4 cups Cherries (tart, fresh or frozen)
1 to 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
4 Tsp Cornstarch
1/8 Tsp Almond Extract (optional)
1 1/2 Tsp Butter
1 Tsp Granulated Sugar (for sprinkling)
Favorite Pie Crust or Pie Dough recipe (enough for a two-crust pie)
Directions: Place cherries in saucepan to simmer, allowing berries to lose juice. After several minutes, remove from heat. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and sugar, then add the mixture to the cherries. Return saucepan to heating source and cook until mixture thickens. (Note: if mixture is too thick, add water to thin; if too thin, add cornstarch to thicken.)
Pre-heat over to 375 degrees.
For pie crust, one's favorite pie dough recipe should suffice. Roll out and cut in half, allowing for each half to contain enough dough to fit a 8 or 9-inch pie pan. Place one section of dough in pie pan and pour in cooled cherry mixture. Dot mixture with butter and moisten edges of pie crust. Place second section of dough on top of pie, fluting edges together at pie pan edge. Cut slit in top crust to allow for steam to escape.
Place in oven. Bake 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Enjoy the Great American Pie Month. And do your patriotic duty by writing/emailing the American Pie Council and insist they fill up the remaining 27 days of February with more Great American Pie days!
(photo credit: Bruin, Creative Commons)