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Easy as π

March 14, 2011

It’s quite hard. Making pies, I mean. You wouldn’t think it, but there’s quite a lot to the process. Bread is easy. Soup is easy. Pudding is easy. But pie is complicated. It’s something you never realize until you try it for yourself.” – Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

I read these words about an hour before I started making two pies yesterday.  I had thought to take a quick break from cooking and dig into my new book. I bought Wise Man’s Fear a week ago and I’ve been dying to start it. Reading hasn’t made it high on the list of activities these days. Unless its reading recipes.

Today as you know is π Day (3.14) and I wanted to celebrate by making a pie. Mitch makes an offhand remark to coconut cream pies in the Damn Good Food so coconut cream it is. Of course he doesn’t think to provide  a recipe, but I checked with the department of searching-the-internet and they were happy to find one for me. Astonishingly enough I had everything I needed in the house to make a coconut cream pie except the crust and some coconut extract. I’m not sure why we had half a bag of shredded coconut lying around, but I’ve learned not to question these things. Kira was running out to buy crickets for Gex the Dragon and said she would get me the ingredients I needed. One of the items I asked her to get was a pre-made pie crust (I may be obsessed, but I’m not stupid. Do you know how hard those things are to make? Neither do I and I don’t want to find out.) At this point in the conversation Kira gently hinted, “You know those only come in packages of two, right?” I said we could freeze the second one. She said, “I guess I could use the other to make a pie to take in to school.” I clued in and responded that I thought we had bananas lying around too and I could make a coconut cream pie AND a banana cream pie.

Kira needed a pie to take into school because they celebrate π Day in a big way at her school and she sort of leads the charge. Anyone who wants to can bring in a pie and students who can recite 20 or more digits of π get a slice. They start the π day activities with a π reciting contest which begins at exactly 1:59 (3.14159). π Day is a big day in our house because our daughter Melanie has won the π reciting contest two years in a row. Last year she won with 513 digits and this year she set a goal of 1000 digits and made it with 5 to spare. If that sounds impressive it’s because it is. She was written up in the paper for her feats of π and no one at her school even came close. She will be the first to tell you that it is more of a memory accomplishment than a math accomplishment, but for those of us who love math it’s just really cool. It’s Melanie who is responsible for the banana cream pie because when forced to choose her favorite flavor that is what she picked.

Making the pies wasn’t too awful, but they did take considerably longer than I thought they would and the coconut cream required copious amounts of chilling in between steps which meant that it was not done until about 36 hours after I started it. I’ve put the recipes up on my Darn Good Recipes page if you want to see how they were made.

Damn Good π Day Quote from Melanie: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196
44288109756659334461284756482337867831652712019091456485669234603486104543266482133936072602491412737245870066063155881748815209209628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841469519415116094
33057270365759591953092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011949129833673362440656643086021394946395224737190702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132
00056812714526356082778577134275778960917363717872146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892354201995611212902196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999837297804995105973173281609631859
50244594553469083026425223082533446850352619311881710100031378387528865875332083814206171776691473035982534904287554687311595628638823537875937519577818577805321712268066130019278766111959092164201989
38095

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2011 2:05 pm

    Pie crust isn’t too hard but it does take some work. Just remember to use ice cold water for a flaky crust.

  2. Dillon permalink
    March 15, 2011 10:30 am

    I had a friend in middle school who memorized pi throughout the year. He and I sat next to a big poster with pi on it in algebra class, and I’d check him as he recited. He only added a few digits a day, but he got pretty far by the end. To this day I still remember through 3.14159265358979 just from listening to him, and if I read it out loud, I recognize much more of it, though I wouldn’t be able to recite it myself.

  3. March 15, 2011 6:49 am

    i find it hard to believe that, after all of the complicated and time-consuming recipes you have tackled and achieved, you were stopped by a mere pie crust.

    more than her feat of memory and math, i admire melanie for not cracking under pressure. well done!

    • March 15, 2011 6:52 am

      I’m pretty sure I could make a pie crust if I had too, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

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