Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When you head out on the highway, the adventure one should be looking for is: Pie!

In our various criss-crossings of the country, we've managed to drive through Kickapoo, Illinois three times. Two years ago we were heading east and I saw a billboard for the Jubilee Cafe; it didn't sound too special, until I saw the small postscript: homemade pie. The restaurant serves basic family-style diner food - note the chicken broccoli casserole special for the Friday we visited. But oh, they have the best homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. Not only was the filling luscious, but the pie crust was impeccable perfection - thinly rolled, tender yumminess. I called and asked for the recipe - no dice. I came in person and asked for the recipe - no luck either. Luke and I agreed that you have to respect someone who protects their recipes as intellectual property. I shouldn't complain since I have one recipe I don't share either but oh man I covet that pie crust recipe.
Years ago before I was married, the Salt Lake Tribune reviewed "American Pie: Slices of Life
(And Pie) From America's Back Roads". The article highlighted some of Utah's best pies, and my sister was willing to explore the back roads with me [note: you really need to get to Veyo for some killer cream pies! - it's a healthy distance from St. George in the middle of nowhere].
Right before we left Cambridge I used a credit at our local independently owned bookstore to get a copy of the paperback edition. So on our drive to Texas we stopped west of Dallas for some pie at a hole in the wall called the Ranchman's Cafe - but we almost didn't find it. Before we left IA I verified that it still existed, and just planned on using the GPS device to locate it once we arrived in town. But even satellites don't know how to find this place. Fortunately, the town of Ponder, Texas has about 2 blocks of a commercial district, so we found it after a few blocks of wandering. Anyway, let me tell you about this chocolate pie. Now, at our house, I am a fruit pie gal while Luke favors non-fruit pies like chocolate silk. In honor of Luke, I've tried a few chocolate cream pies, and let me tell you, they generally aren't anything more exciting than a Jello chocolate pudding filling (even the Jubilee Cafe's chocolate silk fits this category). Granted, chocolate pudding is a very pleasant flavor, but it doesn't make for an exceptional pie. Well, when we arrived at the Ranchman, they had just pulled a chocolate meringue pie out of the oven. Oh man, oh man! It was dark with cocoa and springy with some thickener - this was not your average pudding. Topped with toasted meringue and a great crust remniscent of brown sugar...I was in pie heaven! Nope, they don't give out this recipe either.


Jill said...


You are such a great writer - I can practically taste it!
You need to come to Onion Days - they're having a pie bake off this year! And you also need to try Steve's pie crust - you'd love it!

Can't wait to visit!

Heather said...

Mmm, I suddenly have this weird craving for some pie. That whole post sounds delicious!