Every year, my mom hosts something she calls a “Pie Hike”.
A looked-forward to event by many family friends, it kicks off the holiday season at the beginning of November every year. Mom got a little behind this year, and apparently a friend ended up asking if they had missed the invitation – seriously, they wait for it.
And honestly, for great reasons!
This year, 27 people packed into their dining room, kids and adults alike. Since it’s the perfect way to kick off the cozy season that’s packed with amazing food and fellowship, I felt like it would be a disservice to my readers to not describe how they could also do a fun event that takes very little planning – we all need things like that in our life, let’s be honest.
Essentially, it’s a pie potluck. Friends bring over a beloved family pie (or in my case, a Pinterest attempt), and it quickly turns into a pie buffet!
But first, before the pie is sliced, my stepfather leads the lantern and flashlight-armed group on a crisp walk in the woods behind their house. The distance and route vary every year, and he usually just makes it up as he goes. This year we saw a sudden drop in temperature that we haven’t gotten used to yet, so it was a short walk. It’s actually fun, because people move at different speeds, so chatting groups are constantly changing members – plus, since it’s dark, there’s usually mystery in who you’re talking to…great for us introverts. 😉 Non-country hosts could easily lead a walk around the neighborhood, as many people love to look at porch decor, landscaping, and home layouts. Those who don’t, have plenty of talking options.
Usually, there are a couple of people who are unable to walk the distance or uneven terrain who stay behind to “guard the pies”. You know, just in case of pie bandits, because we can’t have that.
When the group returns, coffee is brewed, hot chocolate is set out, and pies are loaded onto the diningroom table. The variety is always so fun to discover!
Honestly, I am not a pie person. I much prefer chocolate something to fruit filled or topped anything, and pie crust is very boring and dry to me. But an event like this is still very fun, as it’s okay if I don’t try everything, or even if I skip pie altogether. For us introverts, the pie gives an easy in for conversation too, as we can simply ask someone with a different slice how it rates, or comment on our similar slivers.
This year, I took inspiration from Comfortably Domestic and tried Kirsten’s Rose Apple Pie. It was one of the talks of the table, but so simple! Definitely worth a try, it looks much more complicated than it actually is! I ended up doing mine with a graham cracker crust, and did a layer of apples under the rosette pattern to really bump it up and give eaters a nice bulky slice. I should have softened my apple slices a bit more, so they didn’t nestle perfectly, but that also made it so six apples was still perfect after adding the apple under-layer. It was such a hit, I will be bringing it back in the future! I later joked with a few people that I should have added a little powdered sugar on top, to emulate our current weather with the sudden frost.
My strategy – since I don’t really like pie, it’s not a strong suit. My mom can crank out multiples at a time that get raved about, while I admit defeat in this area. So, I go very simple but put the bang in presentation, usually trying different crust designs. Also, I figured there would be several apple pies on the table, and wanted to do something different since I don’t have an amazing time-tested recipe (it ended up being the only apple pie this year!).
This year, a few savory pies actually made a debut too! One of my mom’s contributions was a hearty beef pot-pie, while two other couples brought a Mushroom Leek and an African meat custard. Honestly, it was a great accidental addition, as those who didn’t eat a proper supper beforehand got the chance, and it cut the constant sweetness of the dessert pies. I have no doubt this idea will make a comeback in the future.
I actually came up with an idea I want to bring up to my mom about her future pie hikes. After listening to several people ask who brought what pie and if they could get the recipe – wouldn’t it be a great idea to have a recipe card sitting under each pie? That way, pie-eaters can easily approach the maker and comment on the flavors, as well as jot down the recipe at their leisure. Or, maybe bakers could bring several copies of their recipe, so someone can easily grab one!
Really, you could spin this event into anything. It takes very little planning while it brings so much to friends and family – warmth, socialization, recipe ideas, good food, and a great kickoff to the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Add in a beer potluck, a craft night, or a baby shower. It’s a great stand alone event, but can also be great bones to another event!
Your turn: What is your favorite dessert? Do you have a favorite tradition this time of year?
Stay warm out there,
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