Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pi and Irony go together like Grapefruit and Ice Cream

Southern California Grapefruit Pi

Teachers, especially middle school teachers (that's me!), reach deep, day after day, to find the joy in dragging 13-year-old minds through the wisdom of Euclid, Steinbeck, Paine, and Archimedes. In doing so, we find ourselves immersed in the subjects and trying to out-goof ourselves to get those kiddos to pay attention. This is especially true every March 14, or if you're a mathophile - Pi Day.

Now, I teach English, and we have our own sense of humor, (you'll see us brandishing our cafeteria sporks into the backs of our Caesar salads for the Ides of March) but there's nothing like a math teacher for chic geek, especially on Pi day. So when a I see Michelle or Scott or Maryanne or any of my usually staid, serious math colleagues wearing silly t-shirts "Kiss me, I'm irrational" or "Shut your Pi hole" or my favorite"I love you like a fat mathematician loves Pi" do I congratulate them on their intellectual fashion choices? Do I make my students write an ode to the circle? No. I make my own irrational pi, this time out of the grapefruit left surreptitiously outside my classroom door by Joi, the science teacher, who like many in our area grow grapefruit, avocados, and... (don't even say hi to me in the summer or you will get a bag of ) zucchini. Is there a special day for science teachers or do they just get to walk around knowing the difference between atoms and quarks and lording it over the history teachers?

So, brave math colleagues, this post is dedicated to you. Thanks for teaching algebra and geometry; it makes my class look easy.

Oh, and none of the pies I made are round, I made one oval and the other rectangle.
'Cause I love irony.
Recipe for Grapefruit Pi:

2 medium grapefruit, sliced wafer thin and then chopped. Use the whole fruit, including pith, skin, and flesh. Yes. The whole thing. Is your hand still up? Okay, yes you may discard the stem end and tip. Now wash your hands....Where was I....

2 med. grapefruits
2 1/4 cup sugar
Pastry for a 9 - inch double crust pie (I cheated on this test.... store bought crust.... hope I don't get caught, detention is soooo boring.... Sorry Mr. Pena.)
4 eggs, beaten well
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Slice 1 1/2 (check out the fractions!) of the grapefruits super, super thin, (think limp clocks like Salvador Dali). Then chop them more until they are cut into tiny, tiny bits. If your grapefruit has especially thick skin, feel free to leave some of the pith out. Be sure to save any of the juice run off to add more flavor to the pi, or, if you live in So. Cal and you have more citrus than sense you can add more juice to your mixture without trying to save it all.

2.In a bowl mix the grapefruit and sugar until well combined. Squeeze the reserved half of the grapefruit to add it's juice to the mixture.

3. Cover and leave at room temperature. Wait 3 hours or preferably over night, stirring occasionally.

4. Beat eggs, add flour and vanilla and mix them into the grapefruit sugar mixture.

5. Heat the over to 450 degrees. Line your desired pi pan with the first layer of pastry, leaving a 1 inch overhang and mold the crust to the pan.

6. Pour in the grapefruit mixture.

7. Cover with the second pastry layer, crimp sides edges, cut in five or six steam holes.

8. Place the pi on a baking sheet and on the middle oven shelf.

9. Bake for 15 minutes at 450.

10. Turn heat to 375 and bake until pi crust is golden brown (25 - 30 minutes).

11. Let the pi cool a bit.

12. Serve with something creamy, like ice cream or thick, sweet whipped cream. The vanilla ice cream I used balanced the tartness a bit.

The pi is very tart, but if you're a citrus hound like me, this may just do it for you. I liked the smaller one I made using a rectangle (3x8) baking dish because it upped the crust to fruit ratio.

Do I get extra credit for using the word ratio?


  1. The pictures are so colorful! And the pie sounds delicious. Do you think this would work with other citrus fruits? This sounds like it would be great with lemons.

  2. It was actually adapted from a lemon recipe, but I have SOOOO many grapefruit and wanted to use them.... so, yes, lemon would be pretty good, and I'm sure orange would be divine! Or a mixture of all three, like a marmalade! Yum.