Photos by Kurt A. Keeler
Easy as Pie Party
No matter how you 'slice' it, an old-fashioned pie party is a simple way to gather friends and savor the waning days of summer.
Text by Karen Blanc
Photographs by Kurt A. Keeler
As a young girl growing up in a small farming community, the highlight of summer was the Westside Methodist Church Lawn Social. I went every year with my Grandpa Ed and Grandma Ellen. It was exciting because the event drew a crowd to the little white church with the tall spire just outside of town.
We arrived at about dusk, just as the heat faded from the day and the sun's long shadows danced across the church grounds. I looked forward to the carefully sliced triangles of every imaginable kind of pie sitting atop wooden folding tables draped with simple cloths. I remember the excitement I felt when making my choice, and then savoring every bite while sitting on a wooden folding chair on the lawn.
Earlier this summer, I drew on those sweet memories for a pie and ice cream lawn social that doubled as a high school graduation party. We started the party with 33 homemade pies, and by the end of the day, we had served more than 250 slices.
My daughter, Hannah, single-handedly prepped and baked 25 pies in one week from a single oven with a 9-month-old at her side. Daughter Evian contributed four family favorites, while Aunt Melinda prepared four pies from recipes popular at the Burt County Fair's 4-H Kitchen.
1. Pick Your Pies
Choose your pie flavors by the fruit that is in season, and use premade crusts. For fun, add year-round family favorites like pecan, sweet potato or chocolate silk pie. The hit of the day: Sawdust Pie (recipe follows).
2. Forgo Matchy-Matchy
Serve guests from vintage china, glassware and silverware collected from family members, flea markets and resale shops. Bake pies in plates borrowed from friends and scored at resale shops.
3. Create a Photo Booth & the Trimmings
Spray-paint a large wooden frame and suspend it from a tree branch using hardware store hooks and chain. A “photo booth” sign tells guests what to do.
4. Decorate With Banners
Pennant banners shout “Party Happening Here!” Fabric versions can be wiped clean and reused.
1. Pick 4 colorful fabrics that play well together. Purchase 1 yard of each, and 4 yards of lightweight iron-on interfacing. You also will need 10 packs (or about 40 yards) of single-fold bias tape. 2. Iron interfacing to the wrong side of each yard of fabric.
3. Google "pennant banner" and download a free template. On the wrong side of the fabric, trace 36 triangle designs and cut out the pennants. 4. Sew together the triangles by catching the top edges inside the folded bias tape. Allow at least 2 inches between pennants. 5. Hang banners in long sections. Note: Four yards of fabric will yield about 10 yards of finished banner.
Pennant banners shout “Party Happening Here!”
5. Dress Up Your Tables
Drape tables with vintage quilts in coordinating colors or patterns. Decorate tabletops with simple centerpieces. We filled mason jars with apple blossoms from neighbors' yards.
6. Share Your Recipes
Create recipe cards for each pie flavor for the table decorations. Invite guests to take home a recipe by snapping a photo of the card with their smartphone. This is a fun party mixer, too!
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place 7 egg whites in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, combine 1½ cups sugar, 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs, 1½ cups finely chopped pecans and 1½ cups coconut.
4. Mix sawdust-like ingredients into unbeaten egg whites.
5. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie shell.
6. Bake 45 minutes.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.
About the author: Karen Blanc joins Inspired Home Omaha as a regular contributor. A native Nebraskan, she is a busy wife, mother and grandmother, and blogs on those topics at motherrabbitsays.blogspot.com.
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