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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

What Our Pies Tell Us About Ourselves

Sure, we’ve all heard of apple pie and pumpkin pie… but what about Marlborough pie, and Osgood pie? Have you ever tried grape pie, or Chess pie? These were all common sweet pie recipes back when our great grandmas were baking pies. At that time, it was not uncommon for women to bake a pie or two a day.

We learn all about the history of sweet pies, and get a few recipes with Anne-Haynie Collins. Her new book Vintage Pies: Classic American Pies for Today’s Home Baker.

Credit The Countryman Press
The Countryman Press

Also on the show, we get an update on what this election season brings across the border in New Hampshire, with Valley News political editor John Gregg.

Broadcast live on Tuesday, October 28 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

The Bob Andy Pie and the Coconut Cream Pie are a couple of the pies featured in Anne-Haynie Collins' new book: Vintage Pies: Classic American Pies for Today’s Home Baker (The Countryman Press)

Recipe: Bob Andy Pie

This pie has its roots in the Amish communities of the Midwest. The common story behind the name: an Amish farmer after tasting this pie said it was “as good as Bob and Andy,” his two prize plow horses. As the custard bakes, some of the cinnamon sinks to the bottom, giving this pie a layered look when sliced.


1    unbaked piecrust

3    large eggs

2    cups whole milk

1    cup granulated sugar

2    tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2    teaspoons ground cinnamon

½    teaspoon salt


Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until they are light in color. Whisk in the milk.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, the flour,
the cinnamon, and the salt, then whisk the ingredients into the egg mixture. Pour the filling into the

Place the pie in the oven, and bake it until the filling is set in the middle, about 40 minutes.

Coconut Cream Pie

In 1895, Franklin Baker, a Philadelphia flour miller, received a cargo of coconuts from Cuba in payment for a consignment of flour. When he was unable to sell them, he set up a factory for shredding and drying the coconut meat. Soon, coconut desserts were all the rage. You’ll find coconut spelled “cocoanut” in old recipe books.


1    prebaked piecrust (see page 18)

3    large eggs

¾    cup plus 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

½    cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼    teaspoon plus ¹?8 teaspoon salt, divided

2½    cups whole milk

1    tablespoon salted butter

1    teaspoon vanilla extract

½    cup plus ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided


Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a 2-cup glass measure, and the whites in a large mixing bowl.

In a large saucepan, combine ¾ cup of the sugar, the flour, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt.

In a separate pan, scald the milk, and then pour it over the dry ingredients, stirring them constantly until everything is well mixed. Place the large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the milk mixture, stirring it constantly, until it is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove it from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks well, then stir about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into them. Stir the yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Return the saucepan to medium heat and, stirring the filling constantly, bring it to
a boil, then cook it for 1 minute.

To avoid a runny filling, this additional minute of cooking is important. If it’s not done, amylase, an enzyme in the egg yolk, will react with the starch in the flour and thin out the filling.

Remove the filling from the heat, and stir in the
butter and the vanilla, then ½ cup of the coconut.

Pour the warm filling into the piecrust, and allow it to cool while you make your meringue.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Using a clean whisk, whisk the egg whites with the remaining ¹/8 teaspoon of salt until the mixture is stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar until the mixture is glossy, and the sugar is dissolved. To determine whether the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of the meringue between your fingers. If it feels gritty, beat it for a minute longer, then test it again.

Spread the meringue evenly over the pie filling,
and seal it to the crust. Sprinkle the meringue with the remaining ¼ cup of coconut. Place the pie in the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes, or until the meringue is delicately browned.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Sage Van Wing was a Vermont Edition producer.
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