Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Tag: pies

The Pi Day – Pie Day Quandary

The third month; the fourteenth day. Pi Day! Pie Day! March 14 is the annual, worldwide celebration of the mathematical constant, pi.

NASA scientists and engineers use pi to solve problems and explore the universe. The constant is used to send spacecraft to other planets; to drive rovers on Mars; to find out what other planets are made of; or to determine how deep alien oceans are. NASA issues yearly math challenges to students and amateur explorers to critically inquire the way they do in solving questions about, say, density and volume of rock samples on Mars that the Perseverance Rover will one day bring back to Earth.

Though pi’s decimals are limitless and non-repeating, JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, uses 15 decimal places to calculate interplanetary navigation.


Simple creatures like pastry chefs use 3.14 to scale related baking formulae up and down. Satisfying a common need to calculate the volume of one pan vs the volume of another requires little effort with the use of pi.

And… there’s comfort in the constancy of feeling you can exercise a bit of control over a domain that morphs endlessly. (Liquid : dry ingredient ratios vary with the freshness of the ingredient; humidity in the baking environment quickly transforms a tried-and-true recipe into a seized mess, etc.)

Costing recipes – using the metric system, of course – to four decimal places allows us to be reasonably precise about our profit margins. High school math, in action every work day.


We also love supporting other creative, adventurous confectionery souls who have beauty and love to spread. (Check out Salvatore Hall’s launch of #oneeightyconfections with four kicking pieces of artisan chocolate. He partnered with super-cake maven Johannah Zuniga, owner of Dream Cakes on Valentine’s Day, and we we lucky enough to snag their offering.)


As a poet, I love the rhythm of 3.14159. Last year in the “Voraciously” column of the Washington Post, Aaron Hutcherson wrote the following little ditty, explaining it as “the cheer used at the math and science high school” he attended during sports games:

Secant, tangent, cosine, sine


We all have ways of amusing ourselves…


Pi Day – Pie Day

Here’s a snippet of a poem I wrote to new bakers that will be the intro to my e-book, published later this year:

“Science, now the clever, stealthy patron

lays in wait, tugging at the baker’s imagination; no mercy.


Raise the hem of mystery

to reveal the cook’s

new nourishment.

Curtsy to

The Light:



All of this is to say that we’re celebrating Pi Day – Pie Day, too. We’re making four, 6” (only) pies available to our Portland Metro customers for pickup or delivery on or before March 14. Essential Apple. Essential Oregon Cherry-Berry. Essential Shaker Lemon. Essential Cranberry-Citrus. All restaurant-quality. As we approach the end of the glorious Q124 citrus season, any excuse to use exquisite tangerine-essence Meyer lemons and luscious, sweet Mandarins is excuse enough.


This whole exercise falls into the category of “a little bit of something special” but mostly, it’s just fun.

We look for things that offer comfort and humor. I hope you’re looking, too.







Thank You for Wearing My Dress

Caramelized sugar wafting through the air, a melody simply written…

In reading the Dec issue of Vogue I was struck by the simple homage Anna Wintour paid to the life of Oscar de la Renta who died this fall after an illustrious 50+year design career.

What most impressed me was the gracious form Mr. de la Renta always used in thanking the very fortunate people to wear his elegant clothing. He always said, “Thank you for wearing my dress.”

Grace as an aspect of business feels rare to me, and I believe it should be more common. After all, each purchase a customer or client or guest makes implicitly conveys a measure of trust in the service or product of the business person. Reason enough to be thankful and to say so.

The simple act of doing well what one loves doing and then being gracious enough to thank the person receiving it speaks to an internal and self-sustained honor.

These recent weeks in the kitchen at OCI have been full to the brim of hard and tiring work. New skills sets, new energies, new creations. The work could also be described as joyful.

Pastry cream fruit tarts, berry and fruit pies, Frangipane tarts, cannoli, brownies, baguette, butter braids, corn muffins, hazelnut biscotti, lemon pound cake, bagels, pretzels, pizza, beignets, chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons, crepes, cream pies, focaccia, caramel nut tarts, artisan breads, quiche, shortbread and strudel.

It all came home, and I realized quickly that there was an opportunity to share the joy I experienced in creating it. So, pies went to the staff of Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village and tarts went to the staff of a senior living center and to the baristas at my local Starbucks. Treats of every variety went to my son in Montana.


The pleasure in giving is made all the more concrete by thanking the person to whom the gift is given.

“Thank you for wearing my dress.” That’s a legacy I’d like to honor in this and every season.

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