Holiday meals are often full of nostalgia and tradition, but in the dessert category, holidays can be an excuse to depart from the routine. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners seem to bring a sense of freedom to try a few new ideas or revisit old recipes, but those recipes don’t have to be overly complicated or time consuming. After all, cooking a turkey and dressing is a huge undertaking. Who’s got time for an intricate cake or huge batches of cookies?
This holiday season, dive into the diverse world of pies. While pumpkin and pecan immediately come to mind during late fall, there are many other options that please just about any palate. Many recipes don’t require baking, and with multiple varieties of prepared crusts, pies can be ready in a snap.
No one knows the benefits of quick, crowd-pleasing pies as well as Karen Hill of Cullman County, who taught family consumer sciences for 28 years and now spends most of her time running a chicken and cattle farm with husband Mike. The last 10 years of her career, Hill taught culinary arts at a vocational school that emphasized real-world skills. She and her students ran a full-service restaurant every Thursday.
“We researched and tested so many recipes,” Hill said. “We’d try them in class and if they were good, we’d keep them and make them for the restaurant.”
Quick pies were a favorite among her students and their customers, she said.
In addition to making meals with her students, Hill grew up in a family that cooked almost every night — out of necessity and principle.
“Living way out in the country, it’s a hassle to drive into town, so even though you’re tired, you really don’t just run and get a pizza,” she said. “You either eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or you cook dinner. Plus, it was always important that my family end each day by sharing a meal at the dinner table. We have passed that on to our children as well.”