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Community and a Pie for Mikey

When I started blogging two and a half years ago I really had no idea what I was getting into. I had a few friends who were bloggers and went on a roaming adventure through Atlanta with two of them before tipping my hat into the ring with them. It started here in Atlanta getting to know folks in the food industry and went full tilt when I traveled out to San Francisco for the first BlogHer food conference, that in 2009, was the first large scale blogger conference devoted to food. It brought many of the folks I’ve admired from afar all together in one big room. There was a lot of love in that room, and some of the folks I met there have become lifelong friends – people who I “talk” to daily on Twitter, and plan trips around to see them again. I experienced it again this year when so many people in Atlanta joined forces and raised thousands of dollars to fight childhood hunger with Share Our Strength.

Jennifer Perillo was there at that conference, although I didn’t meet her. The downside of such a large conference is that you may not get a chance meet everyone that you’d like to. I certainly know of her and her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen where she shares recipes and stories of her life in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. A tweet went out last week that stopped folks in our food community in our tracks and we later learned that Jennifer’s husband died of a sudden heart attack. Jennifer’s wish was for us to bake a peanut butter pie, Mikey’s favorite, and share it with loved ones.

I’m not much of a baker, but I did enjoy a slice of peanut butter pie baked by my friend Tami and enjoyed with another friend of ours, Tony.  We discussed blogging, food photography and the food community itself. It was incredibly delicious, and after reading the outpouring and support and love from my fellow bloggers, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try my hand at the pie myself. I love peanut butter and chocolate and if I had a kid they’d probably be named Reese. As you can see above, I enlisted the help of the Keebler Elves to do the heavy lifting.

I picked up the items for the pie yesterday, save for a few ingredients like butter, and the bottle you see above you. I love everything Penzeys, and this bottle was purchased at the Penzeys Spices store in Birmingham. Thankfully, we now have our own Penzeys store in Sandy Springs and I couldn’t be happier. I followed the recipe on Tami’s beautiful post dedicated to Jennifer & Mikey. There isn’t any baking involved aside from the crust, so I figured it’d be a piece of cake.

 

Although I’ve got to tell you, I could be a little bit better at following directions. Apparently there’s a difference between heavy cream and whipped cream. I don’t have the fancy Kitchenaid mixers, or even an electric mixer that most food bloggers have. Thankfully I do have this odd looking whisk that I picked up at one of the aforementioned conferences, and after a bit of time, it did the trick. To the legions of baking blogs out there, I’ll never be your competition!

Glorious peanut butter and calories. Looks good, eh? I wish I could take credit for the crust, however I’ll be getting lessons shortly and hopefully I’ll be better at following directions. Stay tuned. As I mentioned earlier, Jennifer wanted us to create a pie to share. I shared this pie with my roommate, who apparently had relatives that made peanut butter pie. No pressure, right? It turns out that my pie was ‘fantastic’ and brought back memories. That’s what life is all about right? There’s no doubt that Jennifer will be sharing memories for their daughters when they grow older, including this precious video that Jennifer shared with all of us of Mikey & one of their daughters. There are a number of roundups around the web, including Food Network & Tastespotting with a number of variations on peanut butter recipes. If you’d like to make a pie of your own, I’ve included the recipe below.

Almost No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie – serves 8-10 – from a recipe found on AllRecipes.com/Running with Tweezers

  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Extra whipped cream and chopped peanuts, for garnish, optional

Directions

– Combine 1 1/4 cup cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup butter or margarine; press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Cool. Alternatively, a ready made 9 inch pie crust can be used.

– In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Whip the cream, and fold into the peanut butter mixture.

-  Gently spoon filing into crust. Refrigerate. Top with whipped cream and chopped peanuts for garnish. Serve immediately.