Sometimes a pie is more than a pie

…especially when it’s a delicious teachable moment

It's pie season, and if anyone knows pie, it's my kid.

It started a few months ago when she was a little bored and therefore reading over my shoulder and driving me just a little crazy, because apparently this is what 11-year-olds do.

I happened to be reading an article about someone who was making all kinds of pies.

“I think I'd like to do that,” she said. “I want to make a whole bunch of pies.”

I was surprised, and intrigued at her interest in the idea. However, since the unveiling of NewDad(tm) – a.k.a. “he who does not eat pie or junk food or ocelots” – I knew that wherever the pie idea was going, I would not be partaking. The mental image of standing around looking at pies was kind of depressing, and I felt my enthusiasm for the project fading. But then, inspiration struck.

“You can do that,” I told her. “But you need to write about it. I want you to summarize the whole experience, from deciding what to make to finding ingredients to taste-testing.”

She suggested she make it a blog, and suddenly we were off. The idea evolved into baking as many pies as possible – she set a goal of 20 – and then writing all about it on her soon-to-be constructed blog.

I thought the number of pies was a little optimistic, but that wasn't really the point. She thought it would be all about baking pies and getting to eat them. What I thought, on the other hand, is that she'd learn how to map out a project, come up with a plan of action, execute her plan, and then assess it. Plus she'd be writing for an audience, which certainly didn't hurt. I felt a little like an evil genius: She'd be learning only she wouldn't even realize it. I even “mu-ha-ha'd” a bit in my head.

The first step would be to plan out what kind of pie she'd make. The ideas started flying: boiled spaghetti pie, macaroni and cheese pie, ham pie – they were actually kind of weird. I tried to bring it back to reality by suggesting she start with a classic apple pie.

Anything that involved an implement that could remove fingers, be stabby or involve fire would fall on me. Everything else was her responsibility. She would come up with the recipe, shop for everything and put it all together. I cut the apples while she prepped everything else.

A few hours after the idea was voiced, we were sitting in front of a steaming hot apple pie created entirely by my daughter. She looked proud, and she didn't even seem to mind that the crust was mangled. It was ugly, but it was delicious. Out of nowhere, my inner Mike Brady started imparting bon mots of wisdom: even though something may not look attractive, it could have something great inside.

Or maybe the pie was just a pie.

Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife – neither of whom eat ocelots – and (attention Food Network executives) his 11-year-old daughter who can cook a mean pie and then tell you all about it. To read her blog, go to

Categories: Dad on Board