September 23, 2011

Kick Off the Season Right: Pot Pies

Even in the heat of summer, nothing gets our taste buds craving cozy comfort food like the start of football season! The first kick-off is also our first sign that fall is just around the corner. As the weeks go by, the fans will trade in their t-shirts and baseball caps for sweaters and scarves. The warm, thick air will turn cool and crisp. Leaves will fall and color the ground all shades of scarlet and gold.

Yes indeed, autumn is upon us. Soon enough, you’ll be coming home to pumpkins on the doorstep, fires blazing in the hearth and – if you’re lucky – a steaming, rich pot pie just out of the oven.

Just the sight of pot pie is enough to warm a person up on a cold fall evening. Talk about aromatherapy. The warm scent of thyme is all we need to take that red out of our frozen noses. Tender chicken or beef coated in velvety gravy is the perfect combination to heat us up from the inside out.  And hearty chunks of seasonal veggies like carrots and peas will give us just the boost of energy we need to get back out there in the cold…perhaps for our own game of backyard football!

Just do us a favor and leave the grocery store pot pies on the shelf. It’s easy to make your own, and Simply Pies is always here to lend a helping hand. Try cooking your pot pie filling in a slow cooker all day, using your favorite combination of local, organic vegetables and proteins. You can swing by the Pie Cottage and pick up a couple of our homemade crusts, then just pour in the filling, top with a second crust and bake until the crust is golden and smells like heaven. (If you want to make it even easier, but still get all the taste and nutritional benefits of a locavore’s pot pie, you can buy the whole thing ready-made at the Pie Cottage too.)

Now let’s get cooking! Hut! Hut! Hut!


August 19, 2011

Make Room for Pie!

We know something special is happening when a kid picks pie for his birthday party instead of the standard frosting-covered cake shaped like Sponge Bob Square Pants. We’ve taken note that order after order has come in from brides forgoing traditional wedding cake for pies. We get more excited each time a customer asks for a pie JUST BECAUSE…not for Thanksgiving or any other holiday, but because it’s just the perfect treat to satisfy their sweet tooth.

So move over, cake (and the oh-so-trendy cupcakes, for that matter)! Pie is making a comeback!

Even the Los Angeles Times has taken notice, predicting in one article that pie will be “the top food trend for 2011.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/15/business/la-fi-pie-20110115) In the January 2011 story, the writer notes that pie sales increased by 12 million slices over 2009, while cake consumption has dropped.

We think the secret to the recent success of the pie is that it’s a tried and true oldie but goodie! Take one of Julia Child’s cook books, for example.  People may have needed a blockbuster movie to remind them to crack open their dusty old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking; but once done, they were sure to find the same delicious recipes that existed decades before.

And as our society and community have really begun to rediscover and appreciate the benefits of local produce, it’s no surprise to see our beautiful crops utilized in every way possible, including dessert! In fact, perhaps the pie’s fall from popularity in years past coincides with the emergence of big box supermarkets and mass grown, tasteless fruit trucked in from the far reaches of the country and world. Maybe this reemergence of pie has something to do with the fact that we’ve put the flavor back in the fruit, using the highest quality ingredients from local farmers!

Of course, with all the unique and amazing creations we’re finding at restaurants these days, some people are still looking for something new and different in their desserts as well. During the cupcake trend, there were cupcakes in every flavor under the rainbow, like chai latte and ginger lemon. We see it in ice cream nowadays too, with flavors like salted caramel and maple bacon. The opportunities for creativity in pie making are seemingly endless! (Simply Pies has experimented with new flavor and texture combinations with offerings such as our American Dream, which tops a layer of lemon cream cheese with berries tossed in strawberry glaze…yum!)

Finally, the newest desserts have something else in common: an awareness of the growing diagnoses of food allergies and vegan lifestyles. Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills offers Vegan and gluten-free options every day of the week. BabyCakes (in New York, California and Florida) is a bakery devoted entirely to those with special dietary requirements and offers cupcakes, cookies, brownies and pie! (If you’re into this, come check out Simply Pies’ vegan, gluten free and sugar free options!) These options are bringing in a whole new stream of clientele.

Regardless of current trends, you can certainly continue to enjoy ice cream, cupcakes and sweet treats galore…just save plenty of room for pie.


June 20, 2011

Loving Locavores

Anyone who has ever picked a tomato fresh from the vine in a backyard garden, sampled sweet, dark wild berries just plucked from the side of a country road, or crunched on a juicy apple from the local farmer’s market knows the benefits of sourcing fresh, local ingredients.

That’s why we’re “locavores,” aka passionate foodies and bakers that chow down as much and as often as possible on food produced close to home. It’s a philosophy that’s been instilled in us since childhood. Nancy was home-grown among the farms of Ohio, by a family of pie makers, no less. The surrounding gardens and farms were her grocery store, providing her family eggs, meat, fruit and veggies. Hana’s mom, a brilliant home cook, taught her that the two secret ingredients to any good recipe are quality and freshness...an idea reflected in the name of our company, Simply Pies.

Our quiches wouldn’t be nearly as rich and creamy without our cage-free California eggs. Our meaty pot pies get their richness and depth of flavor from the beef at Dey Dey’s. And our fruit pies burst with the intense flavor that only Chuy Berries, Lane Farms and Fairview Gardens can provide. (If you’re curious about other farmers that we love in the area, see our list!)

But being a locavore doesn’t just taste good, it feels good. It feels good to help the local farmers that produce these amazing ingredients to stay in business and thrive. Preserving these small businesses means preserving Santa Barbara’s supply of delicious, nutritious, unprocessed food and stimulating the economy!

And since many of the products that these farmers offer are organic, there’s no need to worry about the array of health risks associated with pesticides, including birth defects and cancer.* There is comfort in the knowledge that we’re feeding ourselves and our children wholesome, fresh, unadulterated, good ol’ clean food.

What’s MORE, local farms help to reduce the community’s carbon footprint by cutting down on the transportation and middlemen required to get all that amazing produce from the farm stand to the kitchen. That means cleaner air and less pollution in the long term, preserving this beautiful seaside haven we’re lucky to call home.

Everyone wins.

If you haven’t tried…get out there and do it! The beauty of being a locavore is that it’s easy -- you needn’t go further than your own backyard…or around the corner to Simply Pies!

*According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/food/risks.htm


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