My girlfriend and I like to live our lives like a magazine chat show. Each week has a heavy focus on celebrity gossip, uplifting real life stories and a topical live performance every once in a while.
With this in mind, and half inspired by the chill of an October afternoon, we committed ourselves to a new weekly lifestyle feature: Pie of the Week. PIE OF THE WEEK! I like to think it would have been sponsored by Pieminister, if it were a real TV show. Or maybe Jus-Rol, depending on whether the audience figures were high enough.
Every Sunday since October 2014, my girlfriend and I have donned aprons, dusted off our Le Creuset and baked pie. Savoury pies, sweet pies even the sorts of pies with breadcrumbs or mashed potato on top ... you name it, we baked it and rated it out of 10.
It is only now, though, with the taste of pies in the double figures still lingering on my lips, that I realise I have learned an awful lot from those crusted parcels of perfection.
So here is a comprehensive list of the most pivotal, life-changing lessons imparted to me by pastry. Not endorsed by Paul Hollywood.
1. Size matters
It needs to be big and it needs to be deep. A flimsy constitution, with pie as in life, is wholly unsatisfactory.
Higgidy ham and gruyere pie, 9 out of 10
2. It IS what’s on the inside that counts
Never judge a pie by its crust. A pie with a second rate puff can still pack a punch if its filling is perfection. Ugly ducklings take note, and chin up!
Pieminister chicken, leek and cider pie, 7 out of 10
3. Sometimes you need to let off steam
This little blackbird, named Freddie, played his part in keeping our pies from puffing up. So don’t be afraid to blow your top from time to time.
Pieminister beef and stilton pie, 9 out of 10
4. Keep it colourful
A plate of pie can be terribly beige. Just as a dash of colour can lift even the blandest of outfits before a night on the tiles, so a side portion of stewed red cabbage or beetroot salad can make your pie-eating experience a truly memorable one.
Pieminister pork, chorizo and prawn pie, 9 out of 10
5. Cheat a little
Some tasks in life are too much like hard work. Vacuuming or remembering everyone’s birthday for instance. Making pastry from scratch is one of those things. You’d be happy to let someone else do your cleaning for you ... So why not let someone else make your pastry?! Don’t turn your nose up at Jus-Rol.
Man’s best friend ... the rolling pin
6. The way to a man’s heart IS through his stomach
I’m not usually one to conform to stereotypes, but once the smell of steaming hot pie hits my nostrils there’s very little I wouldn’t do to get a taste of it. I’ve been known to give foot rubs, sit through a whole football game (shudders), and I’ve even travelled as far as Lancaster just to get a taste of a really good pie!
Paul and Nicola’s apple tarte tatin, 8 out of 10
7. Variety IS the spice of life
We Brits are very proud of our beautiful island, and rightly so! Give me the gently rolling Bedfordshire hills over some sunburnt Tuscan vista any day! But some of the tastiest pie fillings to tempt my tongue were from as far afield as Africa and Thailand. So I’ll be exploring the ‘World Foods’ section from now on.
Pieminister jerk chicken pie, 7 out of 10
8. Sugar is better than spice
Simple really. Why would you want your tongue assaulted by violently spicy chicken when you could enjoy the gentle massage of warm, sweet cherries sliding down your throat?!
Paul and Nicola’s cherry pie, 10 out of 10
9. Sexism is alive and well
Perhaps the most saddening of all my life lessons. Facebook thinks I’m a woman. Yes, something about my Google history of frequent searches for pie recipes, cookware and beautiful serving plates has led Facebook to believe that I’m interested in ads for weight loss regimes and expensive beauty treatments. Hmmm ...
Why use a tupperware when you could use a gingham lined basket?!
10. And finally, the most important life lesson of all. We now know who ate all the pies!
My next blog post will be titled ‘Losing all that pie weight’