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Big Library Read - The Art of the Pie; An Experience


A review by Robin Gallagher, Librarian.

In my mother’s kitchen, pie-making was a full sensory experience: the feel of the dough (floury, sticky, cold), the taste of the fruit (covertly shoved into mouths while my mother batted our hands away), the sight of my mother (and her kitchen and her children) covered in flour, the sound of the oven heating up (I can still hear the clicking of our old oven trying desperately to get to temperature), and of course the smell of baking pie. Store bought pies were unheard of in our house. How unimaginable to receive the final product without the experience of pie-baking!

Pies were a special occasion, always, whether it was the marathon of late-summer summer pie-baking or a pie pulled out of the freezer in the dead of winter, and they were always devoured with gusto. Kate McDermott’s book is similarly delicious. The photos are mouth-watering, the recipes are easy to follow, and the instructions are interspersed with McDermott’s own family memories and personal insights. Curling up with this book is the equivalent of sitting in a warm kitchen and hearing stories from your mother while you wait for a pie to cook and cool.

In fact, McDermott’s humour and sensibility reminds me very much of my own mother – she writes earnestly but with humour about the tactile experience of pie-making, about her own childhood, about raising her children and – my favourite – about the “Clean the Oven Pie” (p 203) that everybody makes at one time. These little interludes are entertaining, but short, and you can ignore them and simply follow the recipes if you wish. But they are a delight to happen upon while you wait for your dough to chill, or your pie to bake or cool.


I dove into this book and made seven pies this weekend: a chilled chai pie, two blueberry pies, a blackberry and cherry pie, a strawberry pie, a pumpkin pie, and a Shaker blood orange pie. And, of course, the little cinnamon dough roll-ups that are such a delicious way to use leftover pastry.

You can dive into this book, too! Or convince a friend to do so with the hopes of gleaning some pie profits. Overdrive is offering Ottawa Public Library members free unlimited access to Kate McDermott’s Art of the Pie: a practical guide to homemade crusts, fillings, and life from March 16 to 30, 2017. The Big Library Reads pick will be available in eBook format for anyone to read instantly, without holds or waitlist!

And, while you’re in a food frame of mind, don’t forget to check out the OPL’s à la carte for special programming, book lists, and food tips.



Other recommended recipe, food, and pie-related items available at OPL:

Oh She Glows Every Day.

Pushing Daisies

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.