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Oct 21, 2013
06:55 PM
The Connecticut Table

It's Pie Season; Sweet Delights to Get Dished Up at New Haven Event With 'United States of Pie' Author

It's Pie Season; Sweet Delights to Get Dished Up at New Haven Event With 'United States of Pie' Author

We are entering the season of pies, but baking these delights—with flavors ranging from classic apple to pumpkin and even Concord grape—can be intimidating, apparently, with American astrophysicist Carl Sagan once declaring, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

Food writer and New Haven resident Adrienne Kane understands the intimidating aspect but thinks it’s an unfair perception. She’s out to change that both in her book, United States of Pie (Ecco, 2012), and in a pie-centric fundraising event Wednesday (Oct. 23) at Gateway Community College in New Haven.

In a Chefs of Our Kitchen event (about 20 tickets remain for the 6 p.m. event, at $60, and may be purchased online), Kane will “share her remarkable journey from college student to culinary commentator to ‘pie pundit,’” according to Gateway, talk about her food blog,, and preview her next cookbook, “The United States of Bread,” scheduled to be published in the fall of 2014.

“As guests enjoy a delicious wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, they can watch her create a pie featured in The United States of Pie, a signed copy of which everyone will receive. And everybody will take home their very own pie, prepared by Gateway’s Culinary Arts students from one of Adrienne’s signature recipes,” the college says in a release. That will amount to about 40 pies in all.

On her blog, Kane says, “The event supports Gateway’s Culinary Arts program. Last year, I started working at Gateway, teaching a small-batch baking course. It’s a wonderful place to be, with so many students eager to learn; so I was thrilled to be a part of this fundraiser.”

On the phone Monday, she described how the book about pies evolved, and its genesis can be traced to Kane’s move to Connecticut (she’s originally from the California Bay Area) when her husband, Brian, became a professor at Yale.

“When we moved to New Haven,” Kane said, “I began wandering through the stacks of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale.” Already in possession of an “idiosyncratic cookbook collection,” she found at Sterling a trove of vintage cookbooks, and, according to Gateway’s post on Wednesday’s event, she started making pies from the recipes she unearthed.

“Recipes were different in the 1800s and early 1900s,” Kane said on the phone. “They assumed much more from the cook.”

Inspired by the recipes she found for pies, and by the process of reworking and modernizing them, Kane ended up with The United States of Pie. It contains about 60 pie recipes and a dozen or so crust recipes.

Asked about unusual or standout regional pie recipes she found, Kane cited a Concord grape pie from upstate New York, saying, “That was pretty unusual for a native of California.” She also cited Black Bottom Pie and chiffon pies and a “Dutch Apple Stack Pie,” which is a single crusted pie with a streusel top that gets baked in brown paper bag for most of the baking process.

“There was a lot of innovation, and a lot of pies that were from women who were sort of making due,” Kane said of what she found in her research.

Wednesday event will definitely have a pie focus, and a holiday pie focus, and Kane said she personally will be making apple pie and cranberry streusel pie—as well as discussing what savory things you can do with pie crusts.

“I will be making a few pies from my book, and will be answering any questions about the pie-making process that audience members may have,” Kane elaborated on her blog. “All ticket-holders will go home with a signed copy of my book, and a pie baked for them especially by Gateway students. Oh! and of course there will be pie to samples throughout the course of the evening.”

See Gateway’s website for more information and for tickets. “It’ll be a good time,” Kane said. “There will be lots of Q&A."

In addition to United States of Pie, Kane is also the author of a food memoir, Cooking and Screaming (Simon Spotlight, 2009). According bio on her blog, her writings have also been featured on iVillage Food, where she wrote a weekly column entitled “In Season.” She also contributes regularly to the New Haven Advocate, writing about local food culture.

About Cooking and Screaming: Finding My Own Recipe for Recovery, Gateway said it “catalogues the role cooking played in Adrienne’s rehabilitation following a stroke that left the right side of her body paralyzed, just a few weeks before the 21-year-old was to graduate from Berkeley. It was then she turned to cooking as a source of solace, pride and, ultimately, rehabilitation.

“While Adrienne had never been particularly interested in cooking before, she remembered her family’s kitchen being a source of ‘warmth, comfort and accomplishment,’ especially as she reminisced about her grandmother’s ‘stellar baking skills,’” Gateway said. “She started using kitchen tools to chop, dice, mince, blend and roll, working to regain mobility and strength. It was a solitary pursuit – ‘just me and my pans’ as she puts it – but her therapy ultimately became her calling and her career.”

It's Pie Season; Sweet Delights to Get Dished Up at New Haven Event With 'United States of Pie' Author

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