Do you want to know how good Jan Moon's "The Southern Pie Book" is?
Moon is a former food editor at Southern Living magazine and now runs a bake shop in Birmingham, Ala., called Dreamcakes Bakery. The pies in the cookbook have a decidedly Southern slant, but then so do I. And paging through recipes for shoo-fly pie, lemon chess pie and vinegar pie (essentially chess without the citrus) are like heaven to me.
That's particularly true when the recipes contain warnings such as: "This rich pie … is not for the faint of heart – its strong molasses flavor is what gives it its Southern charm," or when she advises that if you're not using cane syrup in a particular pecan pie, you might as well make something else (besides pecans, that recipe also contains raisins and chopped dates, an idea that practically makes me swoon).
There are plenty of traditional recipes in the book, but it's not "Mrs. Dull". Moon has a lot of more modern recipes as well, such as a blackberry-buttermilk tart, which seems particularly good to me right now, and even a Meyer lemon tart.
Besides pies and tarts, there is a section on cobblers and crisps, and a very good introduction to pie-baking, covering the various types of plain and flavored doughs and some really cool (and yes, very Southern-seeming) decorating ideas.
How about making a little extra pie dough and rolling it into pearls to decorate the rim?