Half Baked Retirement

A blog about pies.

My retirement goal is to bake a pie everyday and give it away.

Read more about my project!

Recent Tweets @Vickie1225

Yesterday I was honored to receive the City of Salem Mayor’s Merit Award at the annual volunteer recognition celebration. I have been to this event every year for almost twenty years. What a thrill to get such recognition. Thank you, Mayor Anna Peterson and Salem City Council!

Two second place ribbons, three first place ribbons, Best in Division and Best in Show. I guess a year of practice pays off.






The kitchen is a disaster area.

And so am I.

But not my granddaughter, Abby Larsen, who helped decorate.

The pies look pretty good.

Dutch Apple.




Brown Butter Hazelnut.

And now I’m off to deliver to the Oregon State Fair

Tomorrow is submittal day for the Oregon State Fair pie competition. I started work on my pie crusts early this morning.

This crust was the best. The others, not so much.

I’m a little nervous about tomorrow.

Today I baked five practice pies for the state fair; apple, walnut, rhubarb, blueberry and blackberry.

Then I set up a taste test complete with score sheets.

Willing friends helped out.

The conclusion was: I need prettier crusts; dump the walnut and concentrate on the blueberry and rhubarb.

Only two more days until it’s time to submit pies. I better get cooking.

I’m off on my next adventure to win a ribbon at the state fair. So far, I’m thinking of two entires.

Brown Butter Hazelnut

Dutch Apple

Pie got delivered in all kinds of weather and situations during my year of pies.

We were snowed in for four days at the top of our hill in Salem. I headed out with my pie carrier and snow gear to deliver pie to neighbors. I got to meet several new neighbors.

But it just kept snowing. And I just kept delivering pie.

This pie got delivered by train. I took the train (and the pie) from Salem to Portland to meet my grandkids, who were being delivered by their other grandmother, Margie Anderson. The pie went to Margie and the grandkids came with me on the train to Olympia, Washington. The pie was a big hit in the train station as I sat and waited for Margie Anderson to arrive with my gang of kids.

And then there were the hand pies,

carried in my day pack.

and delivered to other hikers on the trail to Jefferson Park in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.

Finally, there was the beach walk pie, carried one half mile down the beach to the very nice volunteers at Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon.


you’re amazing! found you through Cakespy.com. congratulations on your retirement but ALSO your commitment to pie baking and building community! take care! 

One of the many things I learned in my year long pie extraganza was how to make a great crust. Many people told me that making crust was the most intimidating part of baking pie. I experimented with lots of crust recipes and didn’t find my favorite until the very end. Here it is with some techniques I picked up along the way.

The recipe is a slight modification to the Cook’s Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust Recipe.

First, I like a combination of butter and shortening. The butter gives it flavor, but the shortening makes the dough easier to work with.

Second, make sure the fat (butter and shortening) and the liquid (water and vodka) are cold.

Third, I found the best way to blend the butter in to the flour mixture is to grate it. You can keep rolling the butter cube in the flour so it doesn’t melt in your hand.

I use a pastry blender to mix in the shortening.

When the butter and shortening are blended in it should look like this.

After that add the liquid.

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, grated
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Blend flour and salt. Grate in butter. Mix in shortening using pastry blender. Add vodka and water. Roll dough in to three balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out to fit pie pans.