Desperate or delicious? Pioneer and WWII favorite vinegar pie
Let's face it, when it comes to pies, modern-day Americans are spoiled. Our choices are endless from simple, but classically delicious apple pies to over-the-top creations like cookie dough cheesecake brownie pie. When you think about those culinary choices, eating something called vinegar pie sounds a little ... ummm ... interesting.
But this week, I've been thinking about throwback recipes, most likely because I've had a really cool WDAY Honor Flight event on my mind.
On Aug. 27, the F-M RedHawks are holding WDAY Honor Flight Jersey Day to celebrate 10 years of our community's efforts to take World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. free of charge to see their war memorials.
Throughout the past 10 years, I've learned so much about this wonderful generation of men and women and the historical events surrounding the war years. But I've also learned a lot about life on the homefront and the hardships faced because of the rationing of food products including meat, lard, shortening, cheese, butter and many other processed foods. Americans were even encouraged to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs in Victory Gardens as a way to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Even so, housewives needed to find substitutes for products they couldn't get their hands on. Enter: vinegar pie.
Vinegar pie was not invented during WW II. Rather, it's a throwback to the pioneer days when settlers were looking for a way to enjoy the tart flavors of a fruit pie in the middle of winter when fruit was unavailable. It's in a category of pies called "desperation pies" or "make-do pies" where bakers — during lean times, including the frontier days, The Great Depression and WWII — used the ingredients they had on hand. During those hard times most kitchens had the ingredients found in a vinegar pie.
I've seen many recipes for vinegar pie — some use plain white vinegar and others call for apple cider vinegar. I'm opting for the apple cider vinegar because of the added flavor it provides. (Watch the video for a step-by-step tutorial.)
Take my word for it, the pie does not taste like salad dressing. It's more like a tart, yet slightly sweet custard pie. It even had lemon flavor despite the fact it contains no lemons or lemon extract.
Better yet, don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself. If you don't like it, remember you have the luxury of trying that cookie dough cheesecake brownie pie — just one more reason to thank our veterans.
Store-bought pie dough (or make your own)
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Cinnamon for dusting
Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Pie weights or raw rice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line pie pan with raw pie dough. Crimp the edges to make crust. Line shell with foil and add pie weights which enables the pie crust to bake, but not rise. If you don't own pie weights, raw rice or raw navy beans work well too. Bake in middle of oven until edge is pale golden and sides are set — about 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until bottom is golden — 8 to 10 minutes more.
Make filling while shell bakes. Whisk together eggs and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl until blended well. Whisk together flour and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then whisk in water and vinegar. Bring to a boil, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
Add egg to mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour filling into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until filling coats back of spoon and registers 175 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer — 12 to 15 minutes. (Do not boil.)
Immediately pour filling into pie shell. If the pie shell is still baking, just cover the filling with wax paper. After filling is poured into crust, cover the rim of crust with a pie shield or foil (to prevent over browning).
Bake pie until filling is set — approximately 15 to 20 minutes — then cool completely in pan on a rack. Dust evenly with cinnamon. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
Recipe altered from Epicurious.com.
If You Go
What: WDAY Honor Flight Jersey Day at the RedHawks
When: 1 p.m. Aug. 27
Where: Newman Outdoor Field, 1515 15th Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102
Info: Tickets available at Etix.com (Search: "Newman Outdoor Field: Aug. 27") A portion of the ticket sales will go to WDAY Honor Flight.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are celebrating 10 years of the WDAY Honor Flight by wearing special Honor Flight jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game. Hats, T-shirts and the new 10th anniversary book "In Their Honor: WDAY Honor Flight 2007-2017" will be for sale. Silent auction items include a Matt Cullen autographed jersey and much more. A WWII veteran will throw out the first pitch and a very special announcement will be made during the 7th inning stretch.