Pie Tip #41 from Karen, Pie Maker Extraordinaire: Take the Good with the Bad

 Hello, art & pie lovers!

Tonight’s our monthly Charity Pie Night at Practical Art, and you know what that means! Yes! Not only do you get to donate to a worthy cause– this month? The Madison Education Foundation— but you get to indulge in a piece (or five) of pie lovingly crafted by our favorite sister/helper/baker, Karen Olson, of Vonceil’s Pies! Since the event doesn’t begin until 7pm, we figured we’d give you a little lead-in about all of the TLC that goes into these golden beauties with this month’s edition of Pie Tips from Karen! The tip?

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Take the Good With the Bad

“Do you get it right every single time? You do? Okay, then read no further– this tip is not for you.  But, if you’re like the rest of us (most of us!), you’re in the middle of a process and a practice with ‘perfection’ kind of just this idea way off in the distance.  We’re learning as we go, getting better with each new experiment in whatever our chosen craft.

I’m the pie lady. And, I’ll say, I’ve learned THEE MOST from pies that were, well, not quite successful. Sometimes it’s the oven that tells you: when your baked-good didn’t crisp, set, rise, etc, etc, etc…. any number of those meanie things an oven can pull; sometimes it’s your friends n’ family that offer some helpful critique on flavor; and sometimes, if you’re working in the professional sphere, it’s your audience of strangers that leave a particular pie unsold on the shelf, or who will jot a scribble on a comment card that says, “Needs more ______” or “…less ______”.

As humans, our reaction is to get defensive. And let yourself. Internally. Then, take a breath and come at it honestly and openly. Be the professional. Some folks are critical just to be critical, and recognize when that’s the case you’re best just to shrug it off. Learn to see some of the nuance between criticism and opinion– especially when it comes to flavor. Not all of our preferences and tastebuds are the same! But, if you’re listening and receptive to YOUR audience, you may be able to get a better sense of the ‘sweet spot’ you should be aiming for with that richness, with that spicy-ness, with that tartness. (And we all know what a delicate balance the spices are– a smidge of ginger, cayenne, rosemary, clove can really tip a scale!)

Ultimately, it’s nice when a pie is somewhere on the scale from good-to-great and you hear those murmurs of enjoyment from the crowd, a few ‘dang-this-is-good’s, and you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But the ones that weren’t so good is where you get the feedback that’ll make the next not just good, but GREAT.”

And, lastly, here’s a teaser for you! Next month’s pie insights are about the history of Apple Pie! Don’t miss it!  And, of course, we hope to see you tonight at Pie Charity Night!