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January 31, 2018

Maine Food Insider: It's January in Maine, and everyone's talking pie

Photo / Marti Mayne
Photo / Marti Mayne
Pies at Rockland's LimeRock Inn await the annual Pies on Parade Tour in Rockland Sunday. The event was expected to raise $25,000 this year for the Area Interfaith Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program.

What is it about winter that makes pie seem so right?

Maybe it's because National Pie Day is Jan. 23. Or maybe it's because pie is one of the most comfortable of all comfort foods and people need something to make them feel good when the glow of the holiday season has worn off but winter's cold and snowy misery still unfolds ahead of us with no end in sight.

In any case, there's plenty of Maine pie news to go around.

Last Sunday, Rockland, for the 14th year, held its Pies on Parade tour to raise money for the Area Interfaith Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program. The event was expected to raise more than $25,000 and help feed 60 Midcoast families this year, according to organizers

More than 650 pie-eaters, who bought tickets well in advance, took to the streets, sampling more than 50 varieties of pie.

The organizers, Historic Inns of Rockland, are "reasonably sure" the fundraising goal was reached, though the official total won't be announced until Feb. 5.

The event not only includes the expected pies — i.e, apple in all its various styles — but also shepherd's pie, pizza pie, seafood pies, egg pies, whoopie pies and the LimeRock Inn's signature Key LimeRock pie.

More than 20 businesses took part, including in Camden, which took advantage of the 60th anniversary of the filming of the "Peyton Place" movie in town to hold a "Pie-town Place" scavenger hunt and trivia contest, as well as a screening of the movie, the day before the pie tour. Also on Saturday, Trackside Station restaurant in Rockland held a silent auction in support of the food pantry and fuel program.

Businesses besides inns and restaurants took part, including the Maine Lighthouse Museum, Maine Audubon Project Puffin Visitor Center and Bartlett Woods Retirement Community.

There were also oil can collection jars throughout Rockland and Maritime Energy has pledged to match up to $2000 in money collected through those.

Missed it this year? Next year's event is already being planned. It will be Jan. 27 and tickets can be ordered at piesonparade.com.

Making the perfect pie

More interested in making pie than eating it?

The Maine Grain Alliance is sponsoring The Perfect Pie, a session with Tara Jensen, a North Carolina baker who's touring the country holding pie workshops to promote her book "A Baker's Year."

The Portland stop on the Bake Your Heart Out 2018 book tour will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at O'Maine Studios & Media Kitchen, 54 Danforth St., Portland.

"Anyone who has tried making an apple pie knows that it's not actually that easy," the Maine Grain Alliance said in a news release. "Come spend the afternoon with us and learn some tips for working with local flour, properly rolling a crust and the best way to prepare your filling."

Bakers will even learn how to create artful crust designs and as the pies cook, there will be snacks, a cocktail and a pie FAQ.

Maine Grain Alliance also supported local pie-making (and other baking and grain-related businesses) with its recent round of grants.

Night Moves Bread & Pie was awarded $800 toward owner Kerry Hanney's effort to purchase a larger, more efficient oven, a mixer and a stone mill for milling small lots of grain bought directly from farmers.

Hanney's "one-woman bakery" is a community-oriented effort committed to baking exclusively with stone-ground, sustainably grown regional grain and natural leaving, she said.

Hanney, based in Portland, but who teaches workshops throughout the state, hopes to expand production, hire employees and hold more workshops, which she does in partnership with the grain alliance.

The alliance also awarded grants to:

  • Bigelow Brewing Co., Skowhegan, $650 to help develop label branding for new cans.
  • Biscuits & Company, Biddeford, $650 to build its brand.
  • McLaughlin Farms, $1,000 to buy a used grain dryer.
  • Rusted Rooster Farm, Parkman, $1,000 to build small-scale grain bins with drying and outdoor storing capacity.
  • Wild Folk Farm in Benton and the Maine Rice Project, $850 to improve on a prototype rice huller and build a second one for use and sharing on the farm.

Everyone wants a piece of the pie

And in pop culture pie news, a 2012 Dysart's commercial blooper reel of Sonya and Jack Palmer of Hermon squabbling over each other's inability to say "buttery flakey crust," was spoofed on Saturday Night Live over the weekend. The topic was Bangor-Dysart's chicken pot pie.

The video original went viral on YouTube a few years ago, and is now having a second round.

In other Bangor pie-related news, Mayor Ben Sprague has put whoopie pies and blueberry pie on the line, betting on the New England Patriots to win Sunday's Super Bowl. Brooke Kerzner, the mayor of Bangor, Pa., in support of the Philadelphia Eagles, has bet something called quoits, which is not edible, but has something to do with a lawn game similar to horseshoes.

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