Pioneers and pies and beers.

I live in Utah. And sometimes it’s weird.

Let me rephrase that- sometimes I just don’t get it. Most of that is due to the fact that there is a large Mormon population here, and I am not Mormon. I’m not from here. I grew up with lots of LDS friends, and understand how deep the commitment to their faith goes. But it’s been amazing to see that it does affect everyday life here, even for non-Mormons.

 “You can’t get a drink in Utah.” Not true. Yes, we do have odd liquor laws in this state, but it’s usually just an extra hoop to jump through. For example, if you have a cocktail before dinner and then order a bottle of wine, the server can’t pour the wine until they’ve taken your cocktail away. Beer with an alcohol percentage of anything more than 3.2 has to be sold in liquor stores, and it’s really expensive. All liquor stores are run by the State of Utah. I guess there are quite a few states that don’t allow alcohol to be shipped from elsewhere. It’s definitely less strict than it was when I first moved here, 11 years ago. I think the 2002 Winter Olympics had a lot to do with it- try telling a European they need a sponsor to order a glass of wine at a public bar!

Another thing unique to Utah? Pioneer Day. It’s today, and it’s a state holiday. Many businesses and shops are closed, even if they are not LDS-based. There are all sorts of activities planned- rodeos, parades, concerts, fireworks displays. The “Days of ‘47” celebration is in recognition of the first Mormon settlers in the Great Salt Lake Valley who arrived in 1847, led by none other than Brigham Young.

It’s also known as Pie and Beer Day to those of us without a connection to the first Utah Pioneers. And despite the gray, wet day and a sick hubby-to-be, I was going to celebrate. For the pie. And probably also for the beer.

With John wrapped up in a down comforter downstairs (watching “The Song Remains the Same” at an alarming volume), I dug around in my recipe binders for something PIE-like. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve never been a big fan of pie. But stashed in with other “MUST TRY!” recipes, I found an almost-forgotten clipping for Chocolate-Pecan Tartlets.  Chocolate- YUM. Pecans- YUM. And I giggle when I say TARTLET. I figured a tartlet is just a mini-pie. And you know how I feel about mini things.

Let’s do this!

First, I made dough for the crust that consisted of butter, cream cheese, flour, and powdered sugar. I added a teensy dash of nutmeg and also cinnamon, because they seemed like cozy additions to anything going in the oven on a rainy day. Right?







My little dough disc chilled out in the fridge for a couple of hours. During that time, I learned a little about this holiday. I live near some incredibly rugged mountains, and I can’t imagine trudging over them in wagons or on horses, families in tow.  At the top of Big Mountain Pass is a historical marker about the Mormon Trail, the route the pioneers took to get to what is now Salt Lake City. Quite a trek. As stunning as they are now, what must these mountains have been like then, untraveled and untouched?


After my pioneer musings, I worked on getting some wedding-related things done. I got alternately extraordinarily excited and completely freaked out that I’m getting married in 95 days. 95 days, you guys! As I review my checklist, envision the magical day ahead, and daydream about the honeymoon, it all feels very surreal. I read a quote this morning that made me think about the kind of partner I am… and the kind I want to be.


So I went downstairs and checked on John, leaving him with a kiss on his cheek. (He called me his Tartlet.)

And then I did the Honeymoon Hundred, plus some. (These abs aren’t going to honeymoon bikini-fy themselves.)

But back to the mini-pies!

As I made the filling , I noticed it was very similar to a pecan pie. And I LOVE pecan pie. Yippee! Chocolate chips, chopped pecans, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, more butter… purr.



You know what I love more than pecan pie? Bourbon pecan pie. It’s a holiday…Why not?




I pressed the dough into a muffin pan, and filled them with gooey good stuff. Twenty minutes in the oven left me time to evaluate the beer options for Pie and Beer Day. Utah has plenty of breweries here, surprisingly. Many of them supply the lower alcohol content 3.2 beer (like Cutthroat from Uintah Brewing Company), but a few make the real deal. Epic Brewing Company is relatively new and John really likes their beers.



It took a lot of willpower not to dive into the cute little tartlets when they came out of the oven. The house smelled like Thanksgiving dessert. I waited as long as I could (which was basically only until they were cool enough to handle) and started the Pie and Beer mini-celebration. Can you blame me?


Dear Utah Pioneers,

Thank you for settling in this beautiful area. Because of you, a community was created that I now happily call my home.

Also because of you, this holiday was put into place which prompted me to create a delectable treat and consume a tasty beverage- simply because they rhyme with “pioneer.”


I’m pretty sure the pioneers would have fully supported eating THIS pie in the middle of the day. (Well, maybe without that shot of bourbon…)

Happy Pie and Beer Day!

23 replies »

  1. Looks delicious!!! I am a fellow dog lover, mandatory wine while cooking dinner person and a southern california girl!

  2. oh good lord, you and your butter and booze and pecans that i can only look at. you should rename your blog ‘i am a meanie to Alisa’. 🙂 the utah thing…yeahhhh…when I had first moved to Colorado (think back to a time when Dinosaur footprints weren’t THAT unusual of a thing to find) I made a few trips into Moab country, usually traveling solo. I was wanting a beer one night and pulled into a ‘club’. Screeching record, turned heads, etc. but me in all of my New Yorker (upstate, thank you) awesome ignorance didn’t care because i was THIRSTY. I asked the gnarly old barmaid for a beer and without missing a beat hollered ‘WHO WANTS TO SPONSOR THIS YOUNG LADY?’ I was worried I had accidentally fallen into an AA meeting. a 215 year old dude at the end of the bar propped up on his mug hollered back ‘I GOT IT!’ I was then informed that I owed my sponsor a beer, which I happily bought. Back in The Day, Utah. The Olympics definitely made them lighten up. congrats on the whole mawage thing!

  3. Wish the liquor laws were more controlled here in CA! Booze is sold in grocery stores, 7-11, gas stations, drug stores etc. There seems to be a liquor store on every corner. Heck there are even medical Marijuna dispenseries. Enjoyed your blog and certainly learned something about UTAH and Pie and Beer Days!

  4. This is hilarious. I never knew about Pioneer Day despite all my Mormon friends growing up. I do prefer Pie & Beer day though. And I can’t believe those strict alcohol laws! Living in Australia where beer (at an average of 5% alcohol for “normal” beer) flows faster than water, I would think it’d be hard to find many Aussies who stick around in Utah! xoxo

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