8 Great Pie Tips

A few essential techniques will help you achieve rich, flaky crusts and perfect fillings

BIG PIE COUNTRY As a young girl living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I was an avid Little House on the Prairie fan. So perhaps it was inevitable I would marry a farm boy. Well, okay, a rancher--but close enough for me. My husband, Gentner Drummond, is the great-great-grandson of Frederick Drummond, who came to Oklahoma from Scotland in the 1880s. Family legend has it that he might have been escaping a conviction for murdering a competitor on the golf course--a story never verified but one we like to tell nonetheless. In 1911, Frederick's oldest son, R.C., started what would become a cattle dynasty on the ranch where Gentner and I--with the help of our ranch hands and children--now run a few thousand head on more than 20,000 acres of land.Not long after I first got to know Gentner's family, I started hearing about a massive picnic hosted at the ranch by the men's club of the local Presbyterian church. From the 1950s through the 1970s, they invited fathers and sons from across the state to enjoy a day on a working cattle ranch and eat barbecued Drummond beef while surrounded by grassland as far as the eye could see. The people who told me about the picnic were not members of the Drummond family themselves but the little boys--now grown men--who had attended with their fathers, and for whom the event had made a lifetime impression. The longing I heard in their voices made me decide to rekindle the tradition. My idea was to invite all of our friends to the ranch for a potluck. I also figured--rather naively, it turns out--that we could host a friendly old-fashioned pie contest to boot. Keep reading Big Pie Country and get the recipes »James Roper