March 14 is Pi Day, when people celebrate the ratio for a circle’s circumference by slicing into a sweet or savoury pie.
Ken and Debbie Nielsen of Salmon Arm are sort of experts when it comes to pie – considering the fact they are repeat winners of the R.J. Haney Best of the Shuswap Pie Contest.
This year, their signature ginger-pear pie took the top prize in the contest, winning the judge’s award and a $4,800 donation for the Haney Heritage Village fundraiser.
“We have been carrying the recipe around for about 25 years; we entered it in 2016 and won that year and then tried a couple different pies for a few years, but we went back to the ginger-pear this year and we ended up winning. This one is kind of special for us, it’s always our go-to for the contest and it brings us good luck,” Ken says.
“Not many people have tried a pear pie, but they usually really love it,” Debbie adds.
According to the couple, it’s a combination of pears being a fresh fruit available in the winter and a special touch to the recipe that makes it the perfect pie for a mid-winter treat.
“I don’t think too many people make pear pies, but it is a fresh fruit available at this time of year and I think it’s important to use fresh ingredients,” Debbie says.
“I think the ginger adds a little bit to the pears, but the crust is a big part of it too and that’s a bit of a secret. I can’t give that one away,” Ken adds.
While the pair both have their share of culinary expertise, Ken is the chef in the spotlight on most days.
“I actually have a heck of a recipe book I go through when I am cooking food, I have a lot of good recipes,” he says.
Debbie adds, “If we invite people over for dinner, they drop whatever they are doing and head right over because he is a great cook!”
Besides the prestige of their ginger-pear pie being named the best in the Shuswap, Ken and Debbie both appreciate the chance to support a local organization with their baking.
“It’s great, it is good to help the Haney Village. It’s their big fundraiser so it’s good to participate and I think they appreciate it,” Ken says. “We got a pretty good donation this year, and last year as well we raised over $5,000 with the pie we put in for the auction.”
“We like that a lot, it’s always good to help out a local charity,” Debbie adds.