The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Friends in pie, I know we’ve been very elusive this summer as we try and decide where we were moving this fall and I just wanted to thank you for your patience and support. It’s been an outstanding and necessary summer of weighing the potentials of Denver, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati against each other but it’s high time to finally announce (through pie, of course) our city pick!!

IMG_20160928_111532.jpgWE’RE MOVING TO CINCINNATI!

I have to say I’m beyond excited to have finally made a choice AND such a stellar choice at that. For obvious reasons (like family, hometown pride, mountains) it didn’t always feel like an easy decision, but it is without a doubt the right move for us. What I have planned for Teeny Pies doesn’t actually exist in Cincy yet, which means I get to build the very first pie empire that the city has ever seen. It doesn’t get much better than that and I cannot wait to leap onto the small business scene and knock everyone’s socks off!

Because of Cincinnati’s proximity to our current Kentucky life we plan on taking our time moving north but once there I have every intention of diving right in! The idea is to develop a few strong wholesale partnerships straight off the bat in order to get the Teeny Pies brand out there while we search for the right space and gather an unbeatable team of bakers, baristas, and pie lovers. There are sure to be a lot of changes in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back regularly as we move forward. Again, thank you to everyone who made this choice impossibly hard and decidedly wonderful! Cincinnati, here we come!!

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Six years of Septembers

Friends in pie, it’s mid-September; the leaves are at the very beginning of their glorious reveal, the evenings have a distinct chill, and in the wee hours of the morning I can hear wild turkeys clucking and calling their way toward breakfast. Fall is a wonderfully nostalgic season for me as I’ve come to realize that as the days get shorter I have a tendency to make large life choices… as though I can’t bear to let the season have all the fun.

Six years ago I peered into a magical CSA veggie box and gazed unwittingly onto my future. The world’s most perfect pie pumpkin gazed back with a knowing tilt to its stem and an unabashed wink in its eye. I fell in love that fall. Roasting pumpkins, swirling honey, whipping endless clouds of whipped cream, warming frozen hands with mugs full of spiced cider and whiskey laced hot toddies, dancing in the kitchen in my stocking feet with a boy I was falling head over heels for, and dreaming and scheming my way toward a pie filled adventure.

Five years ago I pushed my way through a set of doors that said ‘Bakers Only Please’ for the very first time. I spent a year earning my place among fierce, loyal and endlessly inspiring lady bakers and at the end of that year found my life entirely full. I accumulated mentors who were also friends, callouses that only a well worn rolling pin could make, the ability to deadlift a fifty pound bag of flour with ease, and a notebook full of recipes that I’d dreamed up.

Four years ago I published a book. In all of my dreaming and scheming I had never once thought about the possibility of someone recognizing that this pursuit of passion was worthy of being shared, shouted about, and enveloped within the extraordinary pages of an actual book. All my life I have consumed books because they are as essential to my well being as breathing, so the fact that there is a book out there with my name on it still leaves me giddy with boundless amazement.

Three years ago I was ‘pee-your-pants-and-then-hyperventilate’ scared out of my mind as I signed the lease to my shared kitchen space and experienced my very first week of owning and operating Teeny Pies. Rather than having to earn a place, I found myself on equal footing with other founders, fellow makers and dream followers. I was a boss, able to commiserate with crappy weather, slow markets, and confounding customers as well as celebrate the absolute exhilaration of selling out, signing on a new wholesale account, and hiring help for the first time. I honed my craft, created a brand, made hundreds upon hundreds of pies and then sold them to people who loved them, who had opinions about them, who anticipated them, who made space in their budgets (and stomachs) for them. I may have made them with my own two hands, but those pie loving people were the first people who made Teeny Pies a business in real life.

So, here we are. Six years of saying yes, of working endlessly hard, of taking huge and intimidating leaps of faith, and I can’t help but revel in the wonderful adventure of it all. It’s September again, which means it’s time to make some changes.

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Pop-Culture Pies

Hi pie friends! Remember when I posted a picture of this crazy, excellent pie?

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Well, you weren’t the only ones to notice the awesomeness of my pie mind! FYI, which is a network within A&E, (not the acronym for For Your Information … although it is… just not this time) loved the pie so much that they hired me straightaway to do a pop-culture pie series. So, I wracked my brain for the most pop-cultureish things I could think of, I visited the website People.com for the very first time, got the most recent copy of Entertainment Magazine, and then I asked my friends, because let’s face it … I’m not, nor have I ever really been exactly up to speed on all things POP and my friends are way cooler than I am.

I developed six stellar pop-culture concepts and recipe tested my tushy off before I flew to NYC to film just outside of the city at this absolutely stunning house in New Paltz, New York. Any pictures I could have taken of Stone House would have paled in comparison to the pictures on their website, so click on that link and definitely check out the space! They do both events and vacation rentals. The kitchen was gorgeous and by gorgeous I mean my DREAM KITCHEN. They had a huge farmhouse sink and a rather epic gas range with stunning stonework, straight out of a move. And let me tell you if I could have soaked in that tub upstairs for four days straight I would have been one happy baker. Pruney, but oh so happy.

However, I had to bake!! My flight into New York was delayed all day long due to weather which meant that any and all prep time was slowly disappearing as I twiddled my thumbs at the airport. Thankfully, I had an awesome baker, Ashley Holt, from Sugar Monster, crushing the prep long before I arrived. Earlier in the week, I had sent along a list of ingredients, plus all the recipes and an outline of what all of the mise en place trays should look like and she make short work of a hugely extensive job.

The shoot itself took twenty hours!! Because we only had one day to shoot six different pies we started at 7am and didn’t finish until 3am. It was a bit slow at first as the team and I tried to feel each other out. After the first two pies we finally found our rhythm and sailed through the last 4 … and when I say sailed, I definitely mean that they didn’t take quite as long, because filming the creation of pop-culture pies is no joke. I was up to my elbows in flour for twenty hours straight and I just kept thanking my lucky stars that I came from a theatre background and am used to standing for hours, doing the same thing over and over (tech, anyone). Not to mention that I am essentially able make pie with my eyes closed at this point.Basically, what I’m trying to say is, I’m a pie genius. A very humble, beautiful, smart, funny, (and don’t forget hip) pie genius.

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So, head on over to FYI and watch my pie series, POP CULTURE PIES .. by genius pie baker, TEENY PIES!!

 

Change is in the air

This past weekend we went to the magical wedding of our two dear friends, Adria and Amy. Their love is a love that I admire so completely; it’s a love that reminds me to love harder, fiercer, and better every single day. It was a dreamy wedding. The ceremony was warm and romantic and so utterly them that we couldn’t help but be swept up in that lovely glowy feeling that was radiating from the happiest two people in the room. The food was wildly delicious and, in true Pennington Lee fashion, we were given the recipes for everything on the table. Dessert and dancing, a lot of dancing, capped off an altogether spectacular wedding and catapulted our friends into their first day of being Mrs. and Mrs.

I love weddings, and weddings with both old friends and new acquaintances are particularly nice.  We get to hear of old friends strating grand new adventures, we get to commiserate and compliment, break bread together, raise a glass, and at the end of the night we get to dance like crazy together. It was fun to see everyone’s shining faces and rather startling to realize that everyone seems to be going through a certain amount of transition right now. The weekend was filled with tales of starting new ventures, saying goodbye to old loves, falling head over heels for the first time, finding a new pace to life, and feeling stuck and dreaming up grand plans for how to fix it. It was altogether wonderful to realize that Aaron and I aren’t alone with our large and looming life changes.

Maybe it’s just what happens as you wind your way into your thirties; the inevitable growing pains as we figure out what the heck we want our lives to look like. Maybe after years of summer vacation and back to school Septembers, fall feels as though it’s full of potential. The air gets crisp enough to pull us out of our summer stupors, the days begin to shorten  which in turn prompts us to wake up earlier and finish faster, our languid pace quickens, and it really does feel as though change is in the air. Our madcap lives continue, the next adventure is upon us and we will be all the better for it.

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(Photo by: Kristen Magee)

Cincy City Livin’

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As promised, I’m going to tell you the tale of our time spent in Cincinnati. Unlike Pittsburgh and Denver, we’ve not spent an entire week in Cincy but instead have had several separate weekends there over the past few months because it’s only a few hours drive from our Kentucky life.

The two neighborhoods that seem to have caught our fancy are Northside and Findlay Market. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t a couple of other neighborhood options we would consider if Cincy were our choice (I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about Covington, for example, which is just over the river in KY), but so far those are the two spots that feel the most like us in terms of size and energy.

Northside has the quintessential main street; several blocks of bustling commerce, surrounded on either side by an ever growing and invested neighborhood community. After wandering up and down the shop lined streets one Saturday afternoon we decided we simply had to check out the local diner, Blue Jay, to determine if it was authentic and dinery enough for us.

You may not know this, but I have a thing for diners. Let me clarify. I have this deep, endless, pulse quickening, mouth watering, all-encompassing love for diners. And I’m not talking about Jonny Rockets or IHOP (though I mean no offense to those upstanding establishments) I’m talking about true-blue, cheap-eats, knows how long to cook an over-medium egg, quirky long standing staff, DINER. When I moved to my very first apartment in Chicago I was down the street from such a diner called Jerri’s (where they are open 24/7 except for one week a year when they all take a vacation together, they only accept cash, and you can get a patty melt for $4.00) and since I moved away I’ve been searching for that perfection. And let me tell you, Blue Jay is real. Not only did they know just how long to cook my over medium eggs, their hashbrowns were the perfect combination of crispy and homefry flavorful, and best of all their homemade Cincinnati chili (that you can smother atop those delicious hash browns) was on point! My love for Cincinnati chili isn’t quite so deep as my love for Colorado green chili, but it comes close and Blue Jay does it right. If we moved to Northside I would never be sad to breakfast there.

With full stomachs we wandered the neighborhood, which seems to be a fun mix of families and young professionals. The houses are exceptionally cute and the neighborhood itself seems to be going through a bit of a slow transition. It was a little sleepy for a Saturday, but quiet can be nice.

Our other favorite area is the Findlay Market area, which is growing and changing very quickly in comparison to other parts of the city. The market itself is wonderful; like a typical farmer’s market times ten. Every time I’ve gone there’s been live music, delicious smells of BBQ wafting on the air, endless bounty from local farmers and the best gosh darn Pho and Banh Mi in the city. They’ve just built out a kitchen and incubator space, so food producers could potentially rent both kitchen and retail space all within the same stellar market and with Rhinegeist Brewery right down the street the neighborhood is hopping! After a delicious meal of pork and lemongrass banh mi, it’s only right to hop, skip, or jump over to Rhinegeist and toast a successful weekend atop their stunning roofdeck with delicious sour cherry beer … right? It would be truly wrong not to, so without question it’s what we do every time and I have yet to be disappointed in myself.

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Like I said, there are a few other neighborhoods that we could consider, but Northside and Findlay Market are the two whose fanciest fancies we find ourselves fancying the most. Compared to the sprawling vastness of Denver, both Cincy and Pittsburgh feel compact but we’ve definitely found places in all three where we not only feel like ourselves, but also are able to catch an exciting glimpse of what the future might look like in any of these wonderful cities. Boy oh boy do we have some big and lovely decisions to make this month! Thanks again to all of the people who have showed off their cities and made this choice super hard, we wouldn’t have it any other way!