A New England Summer's Pies -- By Way of India and Ohio
The other day, a modest little post appeared on the Upper Valley Listserv offering home-baked pies for sale. "All pie is homemade with fresh fruit and in small batches with an all-butter flaky crust," it said. That -- and the fact that the baker was offering blueberry cherry and blackberry rhubarb -- was enough to make me sit up straight.
Then I read this: "About Meera: Meera is a medical student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and currently lives in Lebanon, NH. She has loved baking her whole life, but became really passionate about it while in college. Her favorite dessert is strawberry rhubarb pie and her mother’s almond torte." You'd want to know more, too -- right?
Meera Nagarajan grew up near Dayton, Ohio. Her parents moved there from India in the 1980s, and their first year in this country, her mother decided to make a full Thanksgiving meal. They were friends with a farmer in central Ohio, whose own mother sent along her venerable recipe for apple pie. Meera grew up with it -- "I still think it’s the best apple pie i’ve ever had, mostly because it’s not super sweet," she says. That pie opened her eyes to what baking could do.
Meera's blackberry tart
It wasn't until a few years ago, though, that she got serious about it. She went to Ohio State, and one day, bored, decided to make brownies. "That was the first thing I ever baked. It was very simple, but I thought it was cool that I could create something that turned out well -- and I could share it with people." She moved on from there to bake all sorts of things, but kept finding herself coming back to pies. She blended her mother's apple-pie-dough techniques with a recipe from the food blog Smitten Kitchen, and over time got to where she felt comfortable with crust -- which is not a given for a lot of bakers.
Now she's decided she can share her pies with more than just her friends. Though there's also the fact that she's about to start her second year of medical school. "I'm feeling it out right now," she says. "Things could look different once I have a full schedule, but I’d love to try to find a balance between the two."
Blueberry rhubarb pie
Her listserv posts have already garnered several orders -- "which is more than I expected" -- and she's game for more. She's doing berry and concord grape pies for the next few weeks -- and since she loves rhubarb, putting that in whenever it makes sense -- and then will move on to stone fruits.
Pies are $20 each, and you can order them by email -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- or by phone: (937) 502-5767.