September 6, 2012

Monte’s Pie Baking Escapades



Will the ladies who won the pie contest step up front?

Monte didn’t know what to do. He’d won a prize, but he wasn’t a lady.


Years ago my husband Monte decided that if he wanted a pumpkin pie he’d better learn how to make them. After all, good wife that I am, I didn’t often make a pie of the kind I didn’t like. And, for some reason, I don’t like pumpkin pie—even though, strangely, I like the filling before it’s cooked.

During his first pastorate at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania, he decided to bake a pie for each family in the congregation. When his pastorate transferred the Jamestown-State Line United Methodist Church Charge in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, he did the same. At both churches he baked his specialty for church dinners.

While serving at his next church assignment, Wesley United Methodist Church in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, he was making not only pumpkin but fruit pies as well. He had one woman prepare peaches in the fall for upcoming dinner pie making sessions—which had moved to the church kitchen.

I also didn’t bake rhubarb pie. When we retired, he discovered that Mary, a retired pastor’s wife who lived nearby had a rhubarb patch she didn’t use. Off he went every year to pick rhubarb, until the patch deteriorated from disinterest.

This year we had a special visitor in mid-August—the second sister my mother released for adoption sixty-three years ago was stopping by. I’d learned she liked rhubarb pie, and when we made plans for her visit she requested he make one to top off the pot roast I said I’d make.

Right. But with what rhubarb?

Monte had continually picked the stalks off his one rhubarb plant, but it was pretty well done by this time. How were we going to access the necessary rhubarb? Didn’t my sister know that rhubarb is harvested in the spring? That it wasn’t available in August? Regardless, I told her he would try.


Meanwhile Monte decided to enter two pies—peach rhubarb and cherry—in the pie contest sponsored by the Ligonier Valley Education Trust during the same weekend as the annual Ligonier (Pennsylvania) ‘50’s Stroll.  Again, not enough rhubarb from the one plant he has.

The following Saturday I went to the Ligonier Farm Market where I stopped at every farmer’s booth and received the same reply: it’s out of season. Finally I was told that one of the farmers still had rhubarb. I located the stated booth and sure enough, the farmer said he had some rhubarb still growing. He didn’t bring any to the market due to the low demand this time of the year.

We called his wife and arranged to have the rhubarb brought to the farmer’s market scheduled before the Ligonier event—enough to make two pies. His pie joined about twenty others, and didn’t win a prize. He was disappointed but knew that all the pies were sold by the piece, and the profits support projects of the Ligonier Valley Education Trust.


He called the farm again and arranged to pick up some rhubarb the Saturday before my sister visited. On the morning of her visit made two rhubarb pies—one for the evening dinner’s dessert, and one to send home with her. He also made an apple pie—for me and for my brother-in-law. Neither of us like the rhubarb pie, but we adore apple pie.

The rhubarb pie didn’t set totally right—it was a bit runny—nonetheless, it was tasty, according to those who ate it.


Then came my son-in-law and daughter’s annual Labor Day picnic. Sandy’s high school friend, Michele, requested that Monte make a blueberry pie. Because blueberries are so expensive, he made a blueberry-strawberry pie. It was enjoyed by all who indulged, and Michele was a happy camper.

Monte wasn’t deterred that the rhubarb pie he made for my sister was slightly runny. The sixtieth annual New Centerville Farmers & Threshermens Jubilee was scheduled during the week following Labor Day. The opening day included an apple pie contest. By the time I awakened he had baked his entry: an apple-rhubarb pie topped with meringue that was browned to perfection on its peaks. We met the challenge of carrying it to New Centerville without damaging it, and after driving forty minutes entered the pie at 1:20 p. m. The winning pies were to be auctioned off at 8:15 p. m. We spent the day exploring the farm machinery and booths, and found a seat for the 6:00 p. m. parade.

Before parade reached us—we were in the stands toward the end of the route—they announced the pie contest winners. The first and second place winners were from Rockwood. Monte came in third.

“They probably only had three entries,” he said.

After the parade we headed to the Jubilee queen competition, held in the same hall where the pie auctione was to take place.  When the judges gathered to calculate the score to determine the winning queen candidate the pie contest judges said:

“Will the ladies who won the pie contest come up front.”

Monte looked at me, unsure what to do. After all, he wasn’t a lady.

The auctioneer stepped up to the podium and began auctioning off the pies. He didn’t, however, announce the type of pie he was selling.

Ashley Beaner’s pie, second place youth winner, was being auctioned off when there was a problem with the auctioneer’s microphone. The bidding stopped momentarily at $150.

I asked Ashley if the pie bids usually ran that high she said “No. Just mine.”

She added: “It’s interesting. My parents buy the ingredients, I make the pie, and enter it, then my parents bid it up and buy it back—every year.”

Her pie sold for $200.

It made me wonder. First, it’s a good way for a family to support the fireman’s festival! Second: what does a youth learn from this?

The auctioneer had a difficult time getting the bids started on the first place youth pie. “Look what the second place winner’s pie sold for. And this pie placed first.” Bids ended at $95.00.

The auctioneer requested that the lady who won third place in the adult category step forward. Monte hesitatingly rose, and it took the auctioneer a second to realize he placed third. But, as Monte said, he proceeded with the bids as if there was nothing unusual. Again the auctioneer had a difficult time starting the bids, which ended at $45.

The second place adult pie brought in $55.

Lauren King, the 1981 queen who has volunteered at the festival every year since being crowned and was one of the queen competition judges, bid the first place pie up. She sat in front of us, and I could see she was determined to win that pie.

After the bidding, I asked the judges how many entries there were. In the adult category there were four. Only the prize winner’s pies were auctioned off. I was also told that his pie did fine, except it wasn’t set quite right.

For entering, Monte received a small basket filled with goodies, all apple related—coasters, a spoon rest, a cinnamon apple candle,

How will Monte use his pie-baking skills next?

Stay tuned. Watch, wait, and see.



A Martha and Mary Situation:

Chocolate: Facts You Might Not Know:

Honoring Benny’s 70 Years as a Church Organist:


  1. Congrats to Monte!! Carolyn, line 10, he did it, he didn’t “died” – lol

    Comment by Fran — September 8, 2012 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

    • correction, depending on how it loads, it might be line 4 –

      Comment by Fran — September 8, 2012 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

      • Thanks Fran for notifying me of my error.
        Monte DID NOT die. He’s alive and well.

        Comment by carolyncholland — September 8, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What is your opinion?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: