I didn't grow up eating pies...we were more of a cake family. Cake mixes, to be exact. I grew up with five older brothers, so Mom was a little busy. So when I started baking a few years ago, I thought...hmmm, what about pie? Who doesn't love pie? Pie sounds good. Let's make pie.
I started with a simple pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie (my fave) and then I got into strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb completely fascinates me...it's both beautiful and tart and is the perfect companion to sweet things like fresh local strawberries in the springtime. Last year, I planted rhubarb in my back yard and I can't wait for it to start sprouting!
I tend to make pies based on what's in season and fresh at the market, but usually use pre-made crusts from the grocery store and they've always served me well. Those food engineers really know what they're doing!
Then, I finally decided to make a crust from scratch with the help of Smitten Kitchen (thanks, Lesley!) I followed the Cooks Illustrated recipe using part butter, part shortening and...vodka. Who would ever imagine vodka in a pie...not this novice baker! It turned out well and I shared it with some friends. They all raved, but they had also said they loved the ones I made with crusts I'd purchased.
Then...I had a bake-off in my tiny little Hampden kitchen. I made two blueberry pies - one with a homemade crust and one with a Pillsbury crust. I used blueberries simply because Whole Foods had tweeted about a buy-one-get-one-free dealio a few days prior.