Denver Delights

20160814_170446.jpg

Friends in pie, Aaron and I spent the last week in Denver scoping out potential pie neighborhoods, searching for the ultimate green chile, and imagining a life lived in Denver. Needless to say it was delightful. We began the week in the vibrant neighborhood of Sunnyside. It’s just north of the insanely expensive hugely popular Highlands and seems to hold it’s own with a multitude of adorable houses, interesting shops, and delicious restaurants. It’s a neighborhood with major pie shop potential.

Before I really get into the details of our city visit, please allow me a moment of indulgence to wax poetic about green chile. Green chile is one of those delicious, magical things that I didn’t understand and therefore never took advantage of while I lived a whole life in Colorado and I consider it to be one of the more terrible and ridiculous mistakes of my youth because it’s SO GOOD. Unless I make it myself there’s zero chance of my getting decent green chile anywhere in the east/midwest so I pine for it when I’m not in the west and tend to go a bit crazy when I am. It’s the perfect combination of savory gravy and spicy salsa. If made correctly it has immense depth of flavor and a slow burn that hooks you right in the soul part of your heart and I can’t believe I wasted eighteen years of my life not eating it. I am the worst kind of fool. But back to Sunnyside where my gargantuan breakfast consisting of mostly green chile did not disappoint.

We brunched at Sunny’s where both Aaron and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of breakfast. Their ‘made-in-house’ green chile was the perfect start to our Sunday. After we ate we walked through the neighborhood, admired the surrounding shops, supported the local farmer’s market with a purchase of Palisade peaches and spent the remainder of the afternoon posted up at a lively beer garden (Recess) in the Highlands with friends and family.

Our second morning in Sunnyside was a workday so naturally we checked out two separate coffee shops to suss out whether the neighborhood could support our delicious coffee requirements. Both Huckleberry Coffee and Common Grounds passed with flying colors, although it should be noted that Common Grounds had pie in their display case and therefore must be seen as the competition.

Later in the day we moved to our new neighborhood, appropriately named Baker and situated ourselves at a killer happy hour to assess what we had discovered so far. First, two out of two green chile experiences had been altogether excellent. Second, while we weren’t quite hip enough to be hipsters in either of our potential neighborhoods we also weren’t quite overly fit and sporty to fit in either, so we came to the conclusion that we might have to start lifting bro in order to find our place in the Denver vibe. Third, Baker was just as nice a neighborhood as Sunnyside with a slightly livelier vibe. Whereas in Sunnyside the shops and the residential parts of the neighborhood blended nicely together, in Baker all of the shops, restaurants, and stores were all on one main thoroughfare. Broadway is a major street that runs north to south through the city and the eclectic and hip retail of Baker line either side. The houses to the East and West of Broadway are gorgeous and rather whimsical, single storey victorians, interspersed with nice but efficient duplexes and connected houses.

20160817_104618.jpg

Our two days in Baker were lovely. We found our favorite coffee shop of the week (Metropolis Coffee), had a phenomenal anniversary dinner worthy enough to kick off our third year of marriage (Cho77), and we were close enough to the train tracks to hear the idyllic blast of the train horn from our breezy front porch.

The rest of the week was spent with friends and family, driving to different Denver neighborhoods, discussing the merits of moving there, and searching out enough green chille to tide me over until our next trip. On our last day in town we put on our wigs, dusted off our fake accents, and scoped out the one, true competitor, Humble Pie. They have a beautiful shop just off of West Colfax and their  menu is extensive as well as seasonal. They share a building with both a budding brewery and a trendy restaurant that both offer Humble pies on their menus. It seems to be a super smart and thriving business and to top it all off, they serve delicious pie and coffee. If we do choose denver the competition will be fierce.

Now is the time to ruminate and make the choice that’s best for the three of us (even though Ladybird wasn’t able to visit Denver we took plenty of pictures of various parks and sticks that she was able to peruse upon our arrival home). I still owe you all a Cincy post, so keep an eye out for that and I’ll definitely keep you posted as we let all these potential decisions churn through our brains over the next few weeks. Life is quite the adventure and it’s been entirely lovely spending the summer weighing our choices. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to show off their cities, we really appreciate you making this decision super tough. More to come.

IMG_20160816_155331

Happy Homecoming

IMG_20150713_102850

My baby brother was in town this weekend and I knew I had no choice but to bake him a sour cherry pie. We grew up in a pie household. Every holiday, major accomplishment, summertime picnic, and birthday was celebrated with a delicious, homemade pie baked by our mom. She was the one who helped me roll out my first crust, gifted me my first rolling pin and taught me the secret to making the best pie in the world. Since we were kids my brother and I have both been obsessed with one pie and one pie only; sour cherry. I make a lot of pie and I care very deeply about creating and successfully executing wonderful and whimsical flavors, but nothing holds my heart quite like the tart yet sweet deliciousness that is sour cherry pie. Knowing it was a family favorite, my mom grew her very own sour cherries on large bushes in the backyard, bribing my brother and I into being her own personal pickers and pitters with promises of bright cherries suspended in their own vibrant juice and tucked into an impossibly flaky crust. I’ve spent my lady-baker life chasing the perfection of that pie and having my brother come to town meant that it was time to start baking.

We’re too far south for locally grown sour cherries, despite my hopeful scouring of the sweet produce at our local farmer’s market this past weekend, and I’d already used up my personal stash that I’d thoughtfully frozen last summer earlier this year, so I had to settle for canned cherries, which should have made me sad but somehow didn’t because at the end of the day I still got to make my favorite pie. I pulled the secret family recipe together from memory and in no time I had the perfect pie with which to welcome my brother to Kentucky.

Yesterday we all feasted on decadent slices of pie and slowly sipped pipping hot coffee. My brother and I grinned at each other after the first bite; it tasted like home.

This weekend Aaron and I are headed to Colorado to check out the next potential city on our list. We’ve a few specific neighborhoods on our list to check out (Baker is one of the said neighborhoods, which feels entirely appropriate), fun restaurants to eat at, meetings to take, pie competition to scope out, and family to do it all with. I can’t wait. If you have any Denver recommendations to make I would love to hear them or if you know any ridiculously wealthy pie-lovers who are looking to invest in the best darn pie shop that will ever be, feel free to make an introduction. I’m super excited for my happy homecoming!

 

Proud to be a Lady

Last night we, as a country, made history. That’s right, HISTORY. It happened right in front of our eyes and regardless of how you vote or what feelings you have toward our country right now, I think we should all step back for just a moment jump up and down, fist pump, shout with unbridled joy, bust out the bubbly, shotgun a beer, or do whatever feels large enough to celebrate this huge and historical moment. A major political party just nominated a woman to be the presidential candidate. Please excuse me while I go high five everyone on the street for several hours.

I love being a lady. I love that I was raised by an insanely strong and unwavering lady who in turn helped shape me into the strongest, happiest, pie-making, future-dreaming, lady baker I could be. I love that my pursuit of pie led me across the United States and into the lives of smart and accomplished women who would help me shape my future in their likeness. I love that I get letters from little girls who have read my book and have started down their own path of becoming lady bakers and I love that by simply working my ass off and following a dream I am able to be a lady business owner.

My reality is due entirely to the women who came before me and fought the incredible fight to be seen as equals. I am able to follow my whimsical pie-making dreams because 96 years ago ladies much stronger than me fought for their rights and won. And last night an incredible woman was the very first lady to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Millions of little girls will be able to look to this woman and see their own potential reflected back at them. They will have just one more reason to imagine they can do anything. Like I said, HISTORY. I am super proud to be a lady today and will do my very best to push onwards and upwards toward a future where having a woman elected as the presidential nominee is no big deal. In the meantime, though, HIGH FIVES FOR EVERYONE. HISTORY.

Teeny Pies in Kentucky-TP-0011

(photo by an incredible LADY business owner: Leah Putkammer of Gray Kammera Photography)

Pokemon Pie

The Pokemon Go phenomenon happened last week and in addition to catching countless Pidgeys and taking the dog for extra long walks to hatch my Poke eggs, I’ve been lamenting the fact that I don’t currently have a storefront because the marketing possibilities are endless.

The game is rather exciting in the way it’s getting people out of their houses and into their neighborhoods. Strangers are meeting strangers, when they choose to acknowledge that they’re all trying to catch ’em all. Aaron spent half an hour in McDonalds/PokeStop yesterday hanging out with a random group of teenagers while they talked favorite teams, reveled in rare pokemon snags, and shared fries.

Happy Pokemon Catchers are out and about which brings me to marketing possibilities!             (This shelter has the right idea for taking advantage of your aimless wandering)

First of all, PokeBalls are round … as are pies, which makes the following SUPER easy to accomplish!!

IMG_20160713_164311 (1)

If you are excited to walk around catching imaginary pokemon on your phone, imagine how excited you would be to eat a pie that looks exactly like a PokeBall.

Second, I’ve totally stocked up on my People Pokemon Lures and I would utilize their exotic scent to bring the pokemon to my shop while the tantalizing smell of fresh baked pies would lure the humans into staying and snacking while they threw PokeBalls with abandon.

Third, I would offer limited deals to Pokemon Go players who showed loyalty to my team, the Blue Barracudas blue Mystic team, led by the indefatigable Blanche. A dollar off your cup of coffee or teeny pie if you prove you’re a member of Mystic. It’ll cost you a dollar extra if you’re a venomous Valor or an insipid Instinct. Nah, just kidding, all teams would be welcome and you would get a dollar off if you catch a Pokemon on the premises!

Finally, I would totally redesign my entire menu to reflect different Pokemon … Peachachu, Venonapple, Jugglypuffpastry, Cherryfairy, Razzzata, etc. and encourage my customers to CATCH ‘EM ALL.

If I had my own storefront I would be crushing the Pokemon Go game. I guess I’ll just have to cry a few tears, eat this Pokemon pie, and take Ladybird for another walk. Happy Catching Pokemon Professors.

Pittsburgh Pie

20160704_115036

Happy July, I hope you all had a stellar holiday!

It must have seemed like I fell off of the pie planet but in fact I was scoping out potential pie cities, starting with Pittsburgh. And it was lovely! Pittsburgh is fantastically gritty, full of city pride and delicious food. We started our city visit in Lawrenceville, which seems to be coming up pretty quickly. As we wound our way down Butler Street we encountered effortlessly cool tattoo parlors, the diveiest dive bars, coffee filled cafes, adorable shops and fun sounding food. We ended up BYOBing our very own twelve pack (because you can’t buy cold six packs…) and having a fantastic meal at Pusadee’s Garden. Other neighborhood favorites included Umami, Franktuary, Round Corner Cantina, Constellation Coffee and Arsenal Park, where Ladybird had her daily romps. 

The city was a great size, by the end of the trip we felt like we already knew our way around. It seems like a fun combination of history and friends in food making a name for themselves. In addition to staying in Lawrenceville we checked out Garfield and East Liberty for potential neighborhoods. We also swung down to the Strip District to wander around for an afternoon. I loved all of the open air fruit stands and the incredible number of awesome looking asian markets, not to mention the crepe pancakes at Pamela’s and the unbelievable steak sandwiches at Gaucho Parilla Argentina. Other notable moments were any and all of the homemade perogies I consumed and going to banjo night at the Elk’s Lodge where the whiskey was $4.00 a glass and the banjo tunes were on point! 

20160622_125008

(how ridiculous does this steak sandwich look)

I also had an opportunity to do a little Pittsburgh baking as well! I went back to the Strip District to snag the freshest fruits and went to work in my tiny Air B and B kitchen. I soon realized that other than an outstanding oven the kitchen had very little to offer by way of pie baking. I had been smart enough to bring my own rolling pin so rolling out my crusts was a breeze, but from then on things got a bit weird. I had no cutting board and only a butter knife with which to do any cutting. I fashioned a cutting board out of the bottom of my fruit box and thankfully the peaches and the strawberries were ripe enough to yield easily to my butter knife of doom. The trickiest bit was sawing open a can of sweetened condensed milk with the smallest serrated knife found on the end of a corkscrew bottle opener. Despite the strange kitchen the pies came out great and it made me think that I’d do really well on that cooking show where they make you use absurd utensils and with only one hand or whatever. I am a lady baker, hear me roar! 

Pittsburgh was a success and it was wonderful to visit a city with the express purpose of envisioning a life there. We’ve not made a choice yet because we haven’t visited all of our cities but Pittsburgh is still on the list! I’ve a few meetings to take in Cincinnati and we’re headed to Denver mid August so if you all have any advice, city tips, or people I could meet with in either of those places, please let me know. The pie adventure continues. 

THANK YOU + Pittsburgh

Well, it was a whirlwind few weeks and I just wanted to give a huge, shouty (but in a nice way), exuberant THANK YOU to everyone that voted for Teeny Pies in the FedEx Small Business Competition. I am so entirely grateful for the lovely show of support and can  only hope that my eye-roll-worthy daily reminders weren’t too overwhelming. I won’t find out if I made the top 100 until the 20th, so keep yer fingers crossed. Regardless, you all rock and I won’t soon forget it. Thanks for the pie love

In other news, our first city trip is next week and we’re headed to Pittsburgh! I’m super excited and it promises to be a pretty excellent trip. I’m especially pleased that we were able to find a dog friendly air b and b which means Ladybird gets to come along and offer her pup-opinions about our potential new city. 

We’re focusing on the Lawrenceville, East Liberty, and maybe Friendship/Garfield neighborhoods for where we would be looking to live. We’ll also check out the Strip District and Shadyside, but I’ve been told that those neighborhoods are already fairly pricey. We’re going to search out great coffee and as much spicy thai food as we can stomach in seven days as both of those things are basically no-existent in our current Kentucky-living lives. There are countless breweries to check out, sour beer flights to sip, pup-friendly tap rooms to support, and dog parks to discover. I’m also very interested in checking out the small business side of things and have set up a meeting through the local SBA and SCORE office to talk about what the Pittsburgh scene looks like and what businessy opportunities I could take advantage of if we decided to make our home there. 

As this is my very first trip to Pittsburgh, I’m relying fairly heavily on the recommendations of friends and the internets SO if you have any got-to-go-hot-spot suggestions please, PLEASE let me know in the comments section! I’ll also be accepting any and all advice on how to reconcile my heart to the thought of having to interact with Steelers fans on the regular … yikes! Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wonderful week! 

IMG_20160608_105313

 

Frame-Worthy Pie

IMG_20160608_105313

Monday morning, I stepped into my new office kitchen with the overwhelming desire to make a gorgeous pie. Truthfully, I think all pies are inherently pretty, particularly the teeny pies which are sometimes so adorable it hurts. I also think that over the past three years I’ve done a pretty admirable job of blending bulk baking with beauty, all the while maintaining a fierce dedication to seasonal and local ingredients. Hand-rolling and hand-crimping each and every pie crust is an unbelievable amount of work, but in the end it means each and every Teeny Pie is as beautiful as it is delicious and that is something I am very proud of. 

But, during our busy months when we make upwards of three hundred pies a week, crust crimping and crumble crumbling was just about as far as I can go toward the making of pretty pies. Any other fancy business was cast aside for being too time consuming or too difficult within the confines of our dreadfully warm communal kitchen. Sometimes I would be seized by a moment of inspiration during a slow afternoon and end up with a delightfully wacky Halloween mummy pie or a few delicately latticed fruit pies, but overall I contented myself with simple and sweet looking pies.

IMG_20151030_164005

Don’t get me wrong, I was contented but insanely jealous of those pie bakers working in the world who were only making a select few pies a week and able to spend their time and energy on making stunning pies. Those magnificent bakers who were able to use pastry as their canvas and from their fingers created magical, whimsical, frame-worthy pies. Like I said, INSANELY jealous. 

Which is why, when I was finally thunderstruck with the realization that I have both the time and energy to try my hand at making gorgeous pies, I wondered what had taken me so long. So, it was with great excitement and determination that I stepped into my kitchen Monday morning and set out to make my very own frame-worthy pie. I decided to keep the first attempt simple and settled on hearts after surveying my current “small cookie cutter” stash. After rolling out my bottom crust, heaping it with luscious, local rhubarb and putting on the top crust I put everything back in the fridge to cool while I rolled out leftover dough and stamped out a bunch of tiny crust hearts. I stuck my hearts on with a bit of egg wash and then realizing I didn’t have a pastry brush of any kind, I went to work spreading an even layer of egg goo over the top of my pie with the tips of my fingers. 

Once all of the tiny cracks and crevices were awash with egg I put the pie into a hot oven and waited anxiously for it to bake to a golden brown. When I pulled it out it was perfect. Not necessarily frame-worthy yet, but I’ve got six months to work on it. I have a feeling I’m going to need to stock up on my tiny, adorably shaped cookie cutters and should probably invest in a pastry brush but I would say I’m well on my way to making gorgeous pies just because I can. 

(P.S. Don’t forget to VOTE for Teeny Pies in the FedEx Small Business Grant Competition!! Here’s the LINK)

IMG_20160607_141414

Let the Games Begin!

IMG_20160602_104012

Friends in pie, the time has come! I’ve entered my first grant competition and I need your help to get to the top 100 by the 13th of June. It may seem daunting, but I know you are all up to the task AND you get to vote once a day… so getting to the top should be a pie-walk.

I’m super excited to be entered into the FedEx Small Business Grant Competition this year! There are very few grant opportunities for small business like Teeny Pies and so my plan is to take advantage of each and every one as they happen throughout the year and FedEx is up first. I happen to think that business competitions are altogether awesome. I like to imagine my teeny pies marching out on the field to fight for their right to live in a storefront. They probably fight a little dirty… slinging their delicious and decadent fillings into the eyes of their opponents while the judges have their back turned and muttering things like, “My crust is flakier than yours!” and “You call that local?!” under their fiercely competitive breaths.

My pies and I are ready to fight to the end and we’d be endlessly thrilled to have your help. I hope that since you’ve already invested time and energy into reading my blog and have hopefully enjoyed following me on my ongoing pie journey that you’re jazzed to help a lady pie baker out and get me to the top in the next two weeks! 

HERE’S HOW

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

You, as a fierce and loyal supporter of Teeny Pies, have the opportunity to vote once every single day until June 13th and never fear, I’ll make it my beeswax to remind you of your dedication to all things teeny every single day. If that sounds overwhelming, GOOD! No, just kidding, I don’t want you all to hate me by the end of this whole shebang, but I am going to be pretty persistent on the ol’ social media so get excited! 

SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE!

In order to be successful in this endeavor I’m going to need a little help from your friends. I’ve accumulated a fair number of friends in pie, both near and far, but my reach only extends so far. If you love Teeny Pies, please please share once you’ve voted. Talk about pie, tag us in your pie pictures, have your friends tell their friends, shout your undying love of all things teeny from the rooftops and help us get the word out that Teeny Pies is the small business of your heart. 

SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! SAY HI! 

I’m about to post the heck out of this on all types of social media so if you happen to catch a glimpse of pie on facebook, instagram or twitter, leave us a little love. You know how the algorithm works, the bigger the buzz I can generate on this mysterious thing we call the internet, the more likely I am to be seen. So give us all the heart eyed emojis you can muster because we’re dreaming BIG and when we’ve reached the top together we can celebrate with pie!! 

HERE’S THE LINK TO VOTE:

http://smallbusinessgrant.fedex.com/Gallery/Detail/5cb86d43-24ee-4e41-9b7f-29a49f965fa6

For the love of pie!

20160523_161249

In the last two and a half years, since I started Teeny Pies, I’d estimate that I’ve made roughly 60,000 pies, give or take a few, and needless to say in order to retain some semblance of my sanity the process has become a bit routine. Mondays and Tuesdays were for rolling out crusts and gathering any ingredients that I hadn’t picked up at the Saturday farmer’s market. Wednesdays were for peeling or chopping fruit and mixing together copious amounts of savory pot pie filling. Thursdays and Fridays were building and baking days, where previously rolled pie shells were filled with delectable fruit fillings or succulent savory fillings and then baked to a beautiful golden brown. Once they’d cooled they were packaged, stickered, and stored for the following day’s market. Fridays and Saturdays were market days, where friends and strangers alike laughed, ate, danced, sipped their morning coffee and supported small businesses.

Holidays, weddings, family reunions and other various special events meant extra pies but the basic weekly routine stayed the same. Every so often, I would work up the energy to bake at home but more often than not I would simply bring any unsold farmer’s market pies to dinner parties, picnics, or friend gatherings rather than spending any outside work time even thinking about pies. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still love making pie (thank goodness) and consider myself insanely lucky that I managed to finagle a professional pie making life out of the universe BUT it’s been rather a long time since I’ve baked for pleasure rather than to make a living.  

Which is why getting to spend the next six months in  Danville, Kentucky is so magical! I get to bake pies for the pure joy of it again. I get to try new recipes that I’ve been dying to try for the last two years but haven’t had the time or energy to attempt. I get to experiment with farm fresh, seasonal produce obtained from the side of the middle-of-nowhere-country road. I don’t have an apoplectic fit if something goes wrong or a new flavor combination tastes decidedly funny, because I’m only making one rather than one hundred. I get to dream in pie again and it’s going to be an e-pie-cally insane summer of baking. 

Here’s the working list to flavors to experiment with: 

strawberry rye      blueberry oatmeal      pepperoni pizza     brisket pot pie    clementine cream     butter chicken curry      veggie curry w/ potato and peas      lamb & lentil      apricot & ricotta     brulee banana cream      dark chocolate & roasted almond      white bean & rosemary galette  

What do you think? Pretty stellar start, if I do say so myself. I can’t wait to throw professionalism out the window and dive into my flour bin headfirst. Strawberry rye and blueberry oatmeal have both been resounding successes and while I’m sure there will be a few duds here and there, I’m pretty thrilled to once again be able to bake for the love of it. There’s always an extra apron in the kitchen if you’re in the neighborhood and feeling up to the challenge of dreaming in pie!  

20160523_161303

blueberry oatmeal

Sneaky Researchers, Inc.

I’ve recently reached the market analysis portion of my business plan and it’s a bit of a doozey — mostly because we’re trying to choose between three different cities. The bits detailing our products from our customer’s perspective, our ideal market and my personal favorite, general marketing strategies to prove pie is essentially a food group, are fairly easy and straightforward to write. I’m lucky to have spent the last three years learning the answers to those questions firsthand from real life, Teeny Pies customers. 

But, it started to get a little tricksy when I realized I needed some very specific information about the competition in three different cities … none of which I live in yet!

Of course, some of those necessary numbers were found with borrowed library cards and a quick call to a couple of rockstar research librarians. I had no idea that it was in their job description to be a huge help to people trying to start a business. Libraries are the best. I’ve also been able to garner a lot of information from online reviews, because people love to internet. All this, plus a few online databases, have helped to paint a fairly clear picture of the competition but there have also been a few holes simply because a lot of the businesses that I’m looking to compare myself to have been smaller and privately owned, making those numbers a little harder to come by.

All of my “How to Write a Business Plan” manuals have suggested subterfuge, i.e. spying by pretending to be a customer, which I am all for. I love checking out the vibe of a place while hoping to catch a glimpse of what helps make it successful, and subtly writing down how much everything costs. Eventually, when we visit our three perspective cities, we will get to check out these bakeries firsthand and I’m definitely going to wear a wig and speak in an accent. I’m a killer spy. But, our city visits are a little further down the road and I’m writing the plan right now.

So, I’ve been thinking… what if, in addition to starting my own pie shop, I also started a consulting business that specifically helped other small businesses with this issue. Sneaky Researchers, Inc. A consulting business dedicated to scoping out the competition through thorough and inventive retail reconnaissance. What a mission statement!

The small business owner or entrepreneur would give us the names of their top three key competitors they were planning on using in their business plan and we would go do the subtle snooping; surreptitiously snapping pics of menu boards or craft coffee offerings, quietly counting customers on a busy, brunchy Saturday, and of course taste testing all of the doughnuts on the menu. My rather loud and suspiciously casual, “So, how much do you think they make annually?”, may need some work but I definitely think we’re on the right track with the wigs. 

Sounds excellent, right?! I think it’s gonna be my money maker while I fundraise for my pie shop. In the meantime, who wants to pop into the newly opened Humble Pie in Colorado and tell me how much their pies cost?

Sneaky Researchers, Inc. 

IMG_20160511_112859

this post brought to you by borrowed library cards