Friday, December 10, 2010

Pietopia is going National and New Website!

Hi all! If you have landed here by accident, no worries. Just click on:

and you will get to where you need to go! Pietopia is going national this year (2011), where three winners will be flown to Minneapolis/St.Paul for the event. Stay tuned and check back at the official site often for updates and how to enter!


Monday, August 17, 2009

The winners!

Come talk to the 2009 Pietopia winners and taste their lives via pie this Thursday, 330-630 at the Eastbank Farmer's Market at SE 20th and Salmon!

Our judges picked four winners this year out of many entrants--thank you to everyone who participated! The designs of the winning posters are spectacular this year too, I am so excited for them--they are beautiful. We hope to see you there!

(Designer: Tricia Martin of

Sabrina Miller--Unemployment may be {a} tart {cranberry,} but starting a new business is sweet {apple pie}

The ingredients in my pie are both tart and sweet . . . similar to the recent events in my life . . . and when combined, the result is unexpectedly sublime (and a force to be reckoned with, according to my husband)!

After completing a graduate degree in architecture two years ago, I found my first job in the field rather quickly. As the recession started to come on full steam this past winter, the design community was being hit hard and I began to wonder what I might do if I was laid off. I decided to pursue a long-time hobby, that of baking, and start a small business. In February I was laid off from a local architecture firm, due to a reduction in work, and I devoted my full attention to my new venture.

I have selected this cranberry apple pie as it resembles my life as I look to create something enjoyable from these rough times and move forward.

Cranberries can test a baker's skills when making dessert due to their tartness. They often pose a challenge and adjustments need to be made when they are incorporated. Unemployment can threaten one's stability and hopes for the future. It too causes a need for adjustment, but its incorporation may also make way for new beginnings.

Just as a baker may struggle to incorporate cranberries in their dish, I am taking my unemployment as a new beginning, a challenge I can and will face. As the cranberries gave me an opportunity to make my apple pie unique, my unemployment is giving me an opportunity to bring happiness to people through my baked goods.

I look forward to the sweet future in my baking business just as I hope others enjoy the sweetness in my pie!

Cranberry Butter Crust

2 ½ cups flour
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 cup (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter (very cold, small cubes, or frozen stick if grating)
3 ½ T solid vegetable shortening (cut into small pieces)
5-7 T cranberry juice concentrate (can substitute with water for a plain crust)

Apple + Cranberry Filling

4-4 ½ pounds (5 big or 6-7 small/medium size) pie apples
(honeycrisp would be great, but Granny Smith are also good!)
8 oz dried cranberries
1 cup + ¼ cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup flour
½ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t salt
lemon juice
3-4 T unsalted butter, cut into small pats

1. To make the crust, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Incorporate chilled butter either by (a) cutting into ½” pieces and blending into flour mixture with a pastry blender; or (b) freeze butter in one solid piece and grate using a box grater into the flour mixture, folding with a spatula to coat butter pieces with flour. Add shortening to flour mix, blend with fork or pastry blender until mix resembles coarse crumbs. Next, add cranberry juice concentrate and mix just until the crust begins to come together. You’ll want it just moist enough to make a ball with it in your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or as long as overnight). When ready, divide crust into two portions. Roll the first into a disc and place in the bottom of a 9” pie pan (deep dish works great), allowing some excess to overhang. Roll the second half of dough and cut into 1” strips for weaving the top crust.

2. Combine the dried cranberries, water and 1-cup sugar in small saucepot. On medium heat, warm mixture and dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until thick and syrupy; most of the water will be absorbed.

3. Peel, core and slice apples, toss lightly in lemon juice to prevent browning, then set aside. Combine ¼ cup sugar with the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and then sprinkle over apples, tossing until evenly distributed.

4. Gently combine apple mixture with cranberries and evenly distribute in your pie pan. Scatter butter pats on top. Finish pie by weaving the second crust and crimping the edges together with the base crust. (Weaved crust can also be substituted with a crunchy crumble topping.)

5. Bake pie at 375 degrees F for approx 1 hour (depending on oven, you may need to reduce temp to 350 or adjust cooking time). When finished, apples should be tender when pierced. To prevent crust from burning, cover edges with aluminum foil once golden brown.

6. Allow pie to set by cooling for about 30 minutes (hard to do, but it will allow liquid to thicken once it is a bit cooler).

(Designer: Derek Franklin)

Kristina Baesler
--White (wine) Rabbit Pie, “How crazy is life?! I’ve gone through the looking glass!”

Everything is a little upside down in my world. A little debt, a little regret, and a lot of wine. I should be baking pies all day instead of taking crap from people who are probably far worse at living life than I am. But, I followed a path that led down a rabbit hole of fake-smiles and endless passive-aggressive office banter...

So now I slap a grin on my face, raise my voice a couple octaves, and enter my office cubicle (represented via cubed potatoes) about 15 minutes late (I spend my mornings baking, one of the few things I have to keep the ol’ noodle slightly grounded in reality) every morning. I feel like I'm really late for a very important date with my true destiny. I continue each day on a seemingly endless journey to pay off my loans and begin my “real life” – outside of this freakish Wonderland. I feel bad for all my co-workers; mad as hatters and not helped in the least by the complete lack of passion I have for my job that leads to endless flakiness on my part – like so much puffy pastry.

The gold atop my White (wine) Rabbit Pie represents how good I make my life look from the outside. Shiny, polite and decadent on the surface, and deliciously politically incorrect on the in – I spend my day desperately wanting to scream what my pies say so naturally, “EAT ME.”

I'm ready for the next chapter!

* Puff Pastry in a square large enough that the corners are hanging well over the sides of the pie pan
* 1 lb. of rabbit meat (available at City Market, Zupans...)
* 1 bottle Chardonnay (or any white, drinkable wine)
* ¼ cup of chopped, fresh tarragon
* ¾ cup chopped celery
* ¼ cup chopped carrot
* 1 small potato (any variety), cubed
* 1 chicken bouillon cube
* 1 tsp of salt
* 1 egg (mixed with a Tbs. of water to brush pastry)
* 1 tsp pepper
* ½ tsp onion powder
* ¼ tsp garlic powder
* 3 Tbs flour
* 2 cups water (approx)
* 1 cup raw, fresh pasta (any variety)
* 1 Pinch of edible gold dust, flake or leaf

Pie Filling:
Add half bottle of Chardonnay, 2 cups water, bouillon cube and rabbit meat (cut into small pieces) to a medium sauce pan on medium heat and cover. Combine tarragon, celery, carrot, potato, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder in a mixing bowl. Sift flour over the top of the mixture and toss all ingredients, then add to the sauce pan. Bring sauce pan to a boil, then simmer partially covered on low heat for 30 to 40 minutes while stirring occasionally until the meat appears cooked through and the liquids boil down and thicken a bit (should still be slightly thinner than gravy). Add more salt and pepper to your liking and take mixture off the heat. Stir in raw, fresh pasta noodles immediately.

Refrigerate mixture for a minimum of an hour, so that it is at least room temperature or cooler.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Thaw puff pastry sheet to room temperature (or until pliable) and place over a pie tin/pan (I prefer making mini pies in muffin tins, but the method is the same). Be sure that the excess pastry is draped over the outside of the pan, the corners hanging well over the sides. Add the cooled pie filling starting in the center of the pastry and fill to just under the rim of the pan. Fold one corner of the pastry in toward the middle of the pie, continue with the opposite corner folding this one over the top of the first. Fold in the remaining corners and pinch together any holes, tuck excess crust gently into the pie pan and brush the top of the pie sparingly with an egg wash (1 egg stirred with 1 Tbs of water)
Bake for 1 hour. Top should be a light, golden brown.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Dust the crust gently with gold and stare in wonder and amazement at the edible art before you – then promptly devour while washing down with the remaining wine.

(Designer: Julia Perry)

Elizabeth Massa-MacLeod--Cities of Roses Filbert-Chocolate-Coffee Pie
As a graduate student, I’ve spent the last year somewhat impoverished in York, England- the city of the white rose- after living my adult life in Portland, the city of roses. Appropriate, but not enough to overcome some serious homesickness. Oddly, a good deal of this homesickness was focused on food; all jokes about British cuisine aside, I did miss the freshness and intensity of not just American foods but of the local tastes of my native Oregon. Every time I would drink cheap watery coffee, I would haughtily inform my friends that it was nowhere near as good as Northwest coffee. Every time I could only afford a bland, fried meal from the chip shop, I would think somewhat longingly of the taquerias and the farmer’s markets back home. However, I made it through the year with the help of that best of British staples, chocolate. This pie, which in itself is an American adaptation of British cuisine, incorporates two of the local flavors I’ve missed most- filberts and coffee- with the somewhat bitter, comforting taste of dark chocolate.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Crust:
1 c flour
8 T softened butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 t vanilla
2 T milk
3/4 c finely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 425. Combine flour, butter, brown sugar and chocolate in mixing bowl or food processor and mix until well blended. Add vanilla, milk and nuts and mix until dough is damp enough to be cohesive. Add droplets of milk if too dry. Press dough onto bottom and sides of pan, making sure that you distribute the dough evenly and cover the entire pan. Prick all over with fork and press a piece of heavy duty foil snugly into pie shell. Bake at 425 for 6 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for approx. 10 minutes, until dry and crisp. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350.

8 T butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
1 c sugar
4 T flour
1/4 t salt
2 t vanilla
Combine butter and chocolate and microwave carefully, stirring often and taking care not to scorch chocolate. When the chocolate is almost melted, remove, stir again, and allow to cool. When lukewarm, add 1/4 c Kahlua.

Beat eggs in mixing bowl until foamy. Add sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and blend well. Pour into the prepared pie shell at 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes. The center should seem gently set, giving a little to the touch, but not liquid.

Let the pie cool and serve with gently whipped cream and coffee crumbles.

Coffee Crumbles:
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c strong coffee
1/4 c light corn syrup
1 T baking soda, sifted after measuring
Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil, covering bottom and sides.
Combine the sugar, coffee and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan of at least 4 qt capacity. Bring to a boil and cook to the hard-crack stage, 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, add the baking soda and stir just enough to distribute baking soda. Quickly and carefully (mixture is very hot), pour mixture onto foil lined pan and allow to cool and harden.
When ready to use, tap the mixture with a heavy spoon, breaking it into irregular 1/4 to 1/2 in pieces. Store extra crumbles in airtight container for several weeks.
When ready to serve pie, top with whipped cream and sprinkle coffee crumbles on top.

(This pie is more of a ganache than a pudding, so it is very rich. Pip pip!)

(Designer: Chelsea Heffner)

Leela Cyd Ross
--For the love of a Mango

Nothing says celebration like mango dusted with chili powder – enrobed in a dove-soft bed of lime cream curd and atop a crisp cinnamon cookie crust – creating this dessert was a fitting Friday afternoon endeavor, as I had spent the morning putting the finishing touches on my last paper for graduate school (hooray!). This is a victory pie of sorts – the type of treat that has style, tang and an innate sense of PARTAY oozing through its nooks and crannies. Finally, after weekends dictated by homework and the stresses of becoming a special ed/art teacher, my life is this pie at this moment. It is achievement. It is happiness. It is very tangy. And I’ve even been called a mango by lovers and friends . . . oozing with sweetness, sexiness and lusciousness, I consider the nickname the highest of compliments.

You see mangos got me through my program – buying them bi-weekly; placing their soft little bodies on the windowsill to ripen, hurry hurry! They were my constant companion, greeting me when I got home, so smooth and soothing in shape . . . And, if I was lucky, one would give slightly to my gentle prodding, proving its ripeness and I’d dig out my sharp knife, a lime wedge, and some chili powder for a date with decadence (in the hammock, no less!) and a taste of my Southern California roots – when I was little, the Mexican community in my small town inspired my love of the sensuous snack – one taste and I was hooked for life.

Thus, upon completion of a major event-- a graduate degree, I knew a pie should be spun from these perfect flavor partners. It indeed satisfied the love of my mangos, my past as a California girl and my future – hopefully tinted yellow from all the mangos I’ll eat in everyday indulgence and celebrations of milestones.

PS. I’m going to India for a 2-month mango-festival that occurs every April and May in Mumbai – that should be a good thing for me, eh?

Chile Lime Mango Celebration Pie

2 ripe mangos, sliced in pretty half-moons
sprinkle of chili powder
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water

for lime cream:
2 c non-dairy milk (I like vanilla almond for this, but anything will work)
1/2 c flour
3/4 tsp corn starch
zest of two limes
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c lime juice
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c Agave nectar

for crust
1 c flour
1/2 c veg butter (Earth Balance is my preference)
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cold water

To assemble:
First, make the crust (I like to do this a day before the pie is served, much easier to get it out of the way) – cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, add flour, cinnamon and salt and gradually incorporate cold flour until rough pie dough forms. Stop mixing and gather barely holding together dough into large ball on top of plastic wrap. Shape into a large disc, wrap up in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours. After two hours, roll out on floured surface. Poke about 5 fork marks in the crust. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie or tart pan, place rolled dough into shell – folding over edges for double-thick sides. Wrap tightly in plastic and freeze until day of serving pie.

Meanwhile, make the lime cream – place non-dairy milk, sugar, and vanilla into a medium-sized pot and stir on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Place cornstarch into small bowl, mixed with a splash of milk or water, whisk until starch is dissolved. Mix this starch slurry into the milk/flour mixture and cook for 5 minutes more, whisking the entire time (or else clumps will form). Mixture will thicken into a pudding-like texture. Take off heat and mix in remaining ingredients – lime zest, juice, Agave nectar. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic, and chill until ready to assemble pie (about an hour, at least.)

Now, back to the crust. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove frozen crust from freezer and grease the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and tightly cover crust, pressing into the sides so that it is directly on the crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 3-4 minutes more. Set aside to cool.

Remove lime cream from fridge, whisk it up if it has set into something a little too firm. Pour almost all the lime cream into the crust. Spreading it into the edges with the back of a spoon.

Arrange mango slices into whatever pattern you like, trying to fit as many as possible into the pie. Heat 1/4 c sugar with 1/4 c water over low heat to make a simple syrup. When mango slices are all in place, drizzle syrup over entire tart. Finally, sprinkle a tiny dusting of chili powder over entire pie. Garnish with lime wedges or lime leaves, as I had on hand. Chill for at least an hour or so, and then serve. Perfect for celebrating anything.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pietopia? Here's what/how!

What does it taste like to be unemployed, starting a new job, just married, divorced, a new homeowner or desperately searching for housing? What kind of pie would describe the way you are feeling right now? Could you imagine your thoughts, concerns or joys transformed into the All-American Pie? If so, take part in the Pietopia Pie Contest!

To participate, please submit your pie recipe and written explanation, including why you chose the recipe and how the taste of it relates to the current state of your life in under 300 words by July 15th, 2009. The project will culminate with an exhibition of the winners at the Portland Farmer’s Market Eastbank between 20th and Salmon on Thursday August 20, 2009. Each winning pie will receive a limited edition screen print reflecting the ideas in the written statement. Pies will be judged upon the creativity and innovativeness in ideas reflecting the ingredients used in the recipe.

Get as creative or as traditional as you want with your pies! Savory, sweet, fruit, cream, custard, meat, or vegan, do it up! The winners will bring their pie's to the Eastbank Farmer's Market (20th and Salmon SE) August 20, 2009 for some good old fashioned tasting (yes, that's right, free pie tasting! yum!) and show off their baking skills. Come and taste what your community is feeling! Plus check out the amazing silk-screens that will be specially designed for each winning pie.

Please send statements and recipes to:

*note: if you'd like to read about last years winners, scroll down this blog. You can read their winning blurbs, see the unique silk-screened posters done by local artists, and even try their recipes!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pietopia= pies, people, community, connections

What flavor pie would describe your life and why?

The idea of Pietopia manifested from my deep love and interest in community, connection, communication, design, and the senses. Everybody eats, so how can this be translated as the common denominator and a way for people to communicate and connect through? I began searching out new ways to apply design-thinking and problem solving to my life passions and Pietopia was the brainchild.

I chose pies because of their timeless appeal to the seasons, cross generations, and the local culture. I am also interested in exploring the ancient correlation between taste and feeling. The goal of Pietopia is to incite communication, connection, and communing as the interweaving entities within the fabric of our daily lives; as well as how the sense of taste and smell and the feelings/memories they can evoke spearhead this process and open doors for understanding. Pietopia seeks to channel our connection with food as a way to communicate, ultimately discovering what the city’s quality of life truly is.

The winning contestants receive a unique, silk-screened print that an artist/designer has reinterpreted into a visual poster. These are on display along with explanations as to why/how they taste like the winners lives with the free tastings of each of the pies. By involving artists/designers from the community, it is another way to weave together creative forces, design, and different ways to communicate bye showcasing/making them accessible to the community at large.

What is really neat is this trend of using pie is catching on. Free Pie, a group started by several graphic designers on the east coast, hand out free pie in different cities. Their message is simple: sometimes life is bad, free pie isn’t. They go on to say that simple gestures, like giving away free pie, can unite communities and spread joy, which I couldn’t agree more with. But what if there was more to the pie? What if the pie was actually trying to tell you something and you could take away from the experience of free pie more than just a tasty morsel? These are precisely the intentions of Pietopia, bringing a way for people to communicate about things they may not have had the platform to talk about or connect through otherwise.

In a recent article in Fast Company, Pie Lab was featured. Pie Lab is a new space in Greensboro, Alabama created by an intensive design program for designers who want to do good, called Project M. Each year, a small group of creatives are selected every year by founder and graphic designer John Bielenberg to travel to locations ranging from Maine to Baltimore to Costa Rica, identify a problem, and solve it, sometimes in a matter of days. Project M has it’s headquarters (known as Project M Lab) down in Alabama and a space where short, intensive courses are taught to designers from around the world. This incubator is where Pie Lab was spawned and materialized. Brian Jones, Pie Lab’s creator and active member of Free Pie, says “Free Pie was designed to gather people together with pie in an effort to promote conversations with neighbors and strangers, and to bring humanity back into downtown areas.” Jones goes on to explain, "pie is something that everyone enjoys, so we've used that knowledge to create a place that everyone wants to visit," he says. "PieLab provides a neutral environment in a traditionally segregated town where people from every race and class are welcome to sit together and talk candidly about whatever is on their mind." (picture courtesy of Fast Company).

Pie really is a neutral ground for people to let down their guard a little, enjoy a treat, and open up or relax. Eating has this effect on people. The action of it gives people something to do, something to segue with into other realms or topics that can seem strange or uncomfortable when confronted face to face, like meeting new people, or discussion in general. It’s no wonder people and designers are starting to hone in on the powerful effects food, eating, and the senses have over our everyday lives. They are so intricately involved in everything we do, we forget that we use them at all.

Pietopia Pie Contest
August 20th, 2009, Thursday 330-7pm
Eastbank Farmers Market, Portland OR

All entries must be emailed to pietopiacontest at gmail dot com by July 15th for consideration. Please see contest details for more info! I look forward to hearing about the taste of your life!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

August 20th, 2009, 330-7pm @ Eastbank Farmers Market

We have a date!
I finally spoke with the Farmer's Market Coordinator, the lovely Ms. Anna Curtin, and the date is set!

August 20th, 2009
Eastbank Farmers Market (SE Salmon and 20th)

Get ready! I can't wait to see your entry!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pietopia 2009 is coming!

Get ready folks! It's back this year and looking for some more great entries. To participate, please submit your 300 word blurb and recipe, including why you chose the recipe and how the taste of it relates to the current state of your life by July 15th, 2009. Each winning pie will receive a limited edition screen print reflecting the ideas in the written statement. Pies will be judged upon the creativity and innovativeness in ideas reflecting the ingredients used in the recipe.

The event will be held in August at a Portland Farmer's Market location, exact date and place will be announced as soon as we find out, right here on this site!

Get as creative or as traditional as you want with your pies! Savory, sweet, fruit, cream, custard, meat, or vegan, do it up! The winners will bring their pie's to the farmer's market for some good old fashioned tasting and show off their baking skills. Come and taste what your community is feeling! Plus check out the amazing silk-screens that will be specially designed for each winning pie.

Email blurbs and recipes to: pietopiacontest at gmail dot com

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Pietopia Event 2008!

It finally happened and what a show it was! There was an A-MA-ZING array of pies, all of which were fabulous. I honestly can not pick one, or even two as my top favorites. I find it interesting that all the pies were equally as good. Not that I was expecting anything less than great from these talented folks, but still, not one mediocre pie? The winners were judged upon their statements in how creative they were in their statements correlating the taste of the pie with their life, not the actual taste of the pie. And yet, when the time came to sample the pies themselves, the flavor of each of them was fantastic. A combination of the mounting excitement of myself, friends, and the community around this event I believe made everything even that much sweeter.

Pies have a long-standing stigma attached to them. Like bread making, pie making has become something of an marvel in the American kitchen. Interestingly enough, pies were redefined by the American Kitchen dating back to colonial settlement. Pie had been around for centuries before the British started colonizing the Americas. However, because the pie was an easy vehicle for food preservation, early Americans embraced it. Pie is a part of our short but deep American heritage, and like cooking seasonally, we have seemingly lost touch with it.

I would like to alleviate some of this angst right now and tell you, pie making is not all that difficult. Carve out a few hours on a weekend afternoon, or some morning or evening, when you can be in your kitchen with you and you alone. Get out your flour, cut up your unsalted butter into little bits and toss them together in your favorite big mixing bowl. Now get your hands in it. That's right, feel the texture of the butter and the flour between your fingers, against your palms, and notice that you are creating something entirely different than what you started with. Put your new concoction of dough in the fridge and cut up your favorite seasonal fruit. Maybe you got the fresh plumbs because the vendor at the farmer's market gave you a try and they took you back to place you hadn't thought of since you were a kid. Maybe you picked the berries or apples yourself. Whatever it is you decided to use, it was because you intuitively knew this was how this pie had to be. Notice how the smell of the kitchen changes with each minute the pie is in the oven. When your olfactory senses have peaked with intensity of the sweet aroma, you know your pie is done. Take it out and savor it's steaming, buttery crust with the spicy, sweet juices of the fruit. Now that doesn't sound too torturous to try. I hope you can utilize this gold mine of recipes, tastes, and thoughts and maybe even take time to recognize the custom of pie making so that it will not become too lost of an art. Cheers!
Marlene Dopp, Pietopia winner, Chemo Therapy Pie (Vegan Apple Pie, so yum!!)

Thom Wheeler, Pietopia winner, Homesick for Miami Pie (Beef-Plantain Pie. Like whoa.)

Maryanne Capobianco, Pietopia winner, Red Door Rhubarb Pie (amazing!)