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photo courtesy of williams-sonoma

one of the loveliest things about this time of year is that i, as a “native” having never left home, have the wonderful perk of all of my far-flung friends coming home for the season. for me it’s the time of year that i get to have coffee with, catch up with, and hug my friends who live around the world. i do some vicarious living through their adventures living in the sunshine of lovely californian beaches, hyper-urban east asia, wonderful london, or in the big cities of the atlantic seaboard. holidays, family drama, senseless mass consumerism aside–it’s so nice to have an annual homecoming.

i’ve become one of those weird people who keeps chocolates and nuts in crystal bowls on the coffee table. my husband and i bought a pound of oregonian hazelnuts and nutcrackers to snack on while watching the (yes, cheesy) fireplace dvd on our tv. but it makes for nice refreshments when friends stop by and munch on nuts and chocolates while i boil water for tea. as much as i enjoy going out for a coffee, or a glass of wine, it’s nice to sit in my own home with my far-flung friends and connect. be less formal. be comfortable.

so when one of my far-off best friends from high school was in town to visit her family, we made some plans that ultimately fell through. deciding on going out for a sunday night-cap, she came by our apartment, and we decided to stay. oh–and she brought me the most wonderful graduation gift:

photo courtesy of williams-sonoma

i have LONG coveted this emile henry pie pan, a williams-sonoma exclusive–the artisan ruffled pie dish, which is based on a 1850’s emile henry design. it’s deep, and fluted, and red. i love it! made from burgudian clay, it should retain heat more evenly and bake perfectly (hopefully even in a woefully inconsistent oven like mine). i shall wish that my end result will turn out as beautiful as the picture above. my friend also brought me williams-sonoma add-water-and-butter pie crust–it’s really perfect as i’m a novice pie baker. i actually am not really sure that i’ve ever made good pie crust.

but one of my new hobbies will be baking, i’ve decided. now that i’m not in school for at least a while, i am planning to pick up baking, and pies in particular.

so what kind of pie should i make in my lovely new pie dish?

one idea i’ve had is alton brown’s shoo-fly pie. shoo-fly is a pie made out of molasses originating with the pennsylvania dutch–named because it’s so sweet and sticky that flys are attracted to it. another idea, bearing in mine the season, is an apple pie–another great alton brown recipe.

another thing is that i’ve been promising my father that i would learn to make pecan pie–his favorite, and mine too by osmosis. originally i thought i’d learn to make pies as they could be considered somewhat healthy–and fueled by a love of the show “pushing daisies” i get fruit pie cravings every time i sit down to watch an episode. pecan, though, is probably the most unhealthy of all pies, and that’s why i’m sure it’s the best. but i haven’t found a recipe i trust yet, and according to my dad there are very right and very wrong ways to make pecan pie. maybe this one would be good? no chocolate, sweet potatoes, spices, or anything else. just pecan pie. if you have a recipe tried and true, let me know!

i promised my friend i’d take pictures of the end product. but if it turns out as a disaster, i’ll send her the peach pie pictured above.