Pancakes & Pi

Five years ago today I embarked on a multi-year web comic journey.

I have May fifth marked in my calendar as a recurring event to remind me that on that day (THIS day) in 2017 I uploaded the first of about 200 comic strips that I wrote and drew.

Almost all of those strips are still available online at www.piday.ca where I used to have a particularly nice website but after a couple of upgrades and moves has been pared down to a basic collection of posts and comic strips and a wee bit of history about the whole effort.

The premise behind my strip was dad jokes.

And pi day, the celebration on the fourteenth day of the third month of each year, March 14th, as it connects to 3.14 seems like a day baked around the very notion of a corny dad joke. So, every day at our house was pi day. Yesterday was pi day. Tomorrow will be pi day. This is pi day.

At the time my kid was just entering her double digits and was delicately balanced in a narrow window of time where she was old enough to appreciate her old man’s sense of humour but young enough to say enough funny stuff herself. I took the advice of “you should write this stuff down” to heart and then to the next level, and started drawing and publishing it. A few hundred fans online and lots of family and friends seemed to appreciate the effort.

But.

The era was so fleeting that I was just getting into the groove of writing and drawing and telling these little parenting tales in comic form before I noticed that she’d become a more sensitive teen and ribbing her in comic strip form was no longer a green zone activity.

I tried to adapt and adjust the strip, but like anything with a lot of momentum behind it, steering it into a new direction proved to be more like steering a train than a bicycle. It didn’t. And coupled with a pandemic and other more pressing family concerns the whole thing fizzled into more of an archive than an active project.

I write here often about both cartooning and sketching and in my personal history both these things have a wending and winding history deeply rooted in my life. My digital art project of drawing a weekly (or often more frequently) comic strip consumed a huge chunk of that history and was one of the first times in my life I was very public about those interests.

Five years on, there’s no real plan to revive the effort and This is Pi Day has been tucked away in the archives of my creative efforts as just another thing I did once.

I’m ok with that. But it doesn’t hurt to point in it’s direction on an anniversary of the effort and say “I made that thing!” and be a little proud that I did.

Making Homemade New York(ish) Style Pizza for Pi Day

The kid was determined to eat round for March 14th.

We’d already made a pair of fruit dessert pies for later, but she decided that pizza was on the menu. What better way to make use of one of those specialty cast iron pieces that doesn’t otherwise see much day-to-day use: the 14 inch pizza pan.

Sadly I didn’t give myself enough runway to make use of my sourdough pizza crust recipe.

Some recipe research and light modification produced the following, which actually turned out fairly awesome from a “reminds me of that time in New York” slice perspective.

recipe

450 g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups tap water

1 cup tomato sauce
blend of pizza spices, to taste
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
assorted pizza toppings

We blended the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a food processor, then drizzled in the water and oil until a shaggy dough ball formed. This was kneaded on the floured countertop to a smooth consistency, then divided into two smaller portions, rolled until smooth. We oiled these up and let them rest and rise on the counter for a couple hours.

I heated up the tomato paste in my small cast iron melting pot, stirred in the spice mix, and let it bubble away for about fifteen minutes until everything was nicely blended.

The proofed dough balls were hand-shaped to two fourteen inch crusts, docked, and baked at 450F for about ten minutes (or until I noticed they were starting to brown on the top.) Ideally you should crank your oven a little hotter, but I need to clean mine and 550F would have smoked us out of the house.

The pizza crusts were topped and then baked back in the still-hot oven for about 12 minutes until the cheese was bubbly.

She missed out on a school trip to New York city last fall thanks to pandemic lockdowns, but with a recipe like this… well it smoothed out the rough edges a little bit.

This is Pi Day

Any excuse to bake something, my pie skills are not top game but with the assistance of my daughter we managed to bake a pair of non-standard cast iron pies to celebrate the dad-jokiest of days.

We doubled the recipe below to make a six inch mini (or as the teenager would have it, personal) pie and a super-large double-dip pie in the big ol’ twelve inch lodge pan.

Pi day also falls at the wrong time of year for some proper fresh fruit, so where we’d have a couple thousand baking apples to work with in August, in March we used our fallback: cherry and blueberry pie filling from a can.

Recipe

1/2 pound lard
2.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 can of pie filling

The flour, salt and lard got mixed up roughly in a bowl, being careful not to overwork. Unlike with a good gluten-strong bread, pastry and gluten are cautious friends and too much gluten development makes for chewy crust where a flaky pastry is preferred. Blend lightly, my friends. Oh so lightly.

When just mixed, the orange juice was combined in and the whole thing was wrapped tight for a couple hours of rest in the fridge.

Rolled out, panned up, filled, and topped, we baked these at 475F for ten minutes then dropped the heat to 375F for a finishing bake watching for the desired browning. The filling was pre-cooked, so the cast iron pan on the bottom and the hot air on top ensure the whole thing is cooked through.

Happy Pi Day. Enjoy something round!

Pi Day, Eve

We spent the evening making pies.

Tomorrow is March 14th.

It’s one of those “we celebrate the day because it’s funny“ kinda days.

The third month.

The fourteenth day.

3-14

3.14

Pi.

π

Pi day.

Last year I bought a pie on my way back to my office after lunch. It was March 13th. I got called into a meeting fifteen minutes later and didn’t go home until almost 9pm that night having been drafted to the emergency communications team reacting to COVID-19.

I ate a cold piece of pie late the next day after another 16 hour work day, stressed, deflated, and shell-shocked from the pandemic hitting our little city full force.

I went a bit overboard on this baked pie.

I used the 12 inch frying pan as a pie plate.

Two cans of store-bought pie filling.

It’s so big.

The kid helped, and in fact she did most of the work.

This year’s pie is going to be so much better than last year.