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Posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Cherry Almond Streusel Pie may inspire you to enter Piepalooza to benefit Perry Nursery School

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

The Perry Nursery School is hosting its annual fundraising party and silent auction — "Piepalooza" this year, complete with a contest for "best tasting pie" —"on March 14 at Washtenaw Community College. And I am thrilled to announce that I've been invited to be a judge at the competition!  As they say, it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it. Happily, one of those somebodies is lil' ol' me.

Perry has been serving at-risk preschoolers since 1934, offering these adorable kids "future academic and social success while providing their parents opportunities for professional, personal, and parental growth."

In other words, they don't just teach the kids the letters of the alphabet and how to play well with others; at Perry the entire family is welcomed and cared for, served in a variety of ways to help ease the stresses that they face from low incomes, single parenthood, and other factors.

Now, of course, we all know that March 14 is Pi Day because it's 3.14!  Could this be a more perfect day to celebrate both the beauty of pie and the fabulous work that Perry does in taking care of its students and their families?

There are three categories in the "Best Tasting Pie" contest, if you want to submit an entry for my fellow judges and me to taste at the competition.  (You can click here for more information about how to do this, because pre-registration is required.)

- Best Tasting Fruit Pie
- Best Tasting Cream/Custard/Meringue/Chiffon Pie
- Best Tasting "Other" Pie - any pie that doesn't fit into the first two categories. No meat pies, please.

In addition to the pie competition that you — yes, you! — can enter, there will also be lots of other entertainment at the party: delicious appetizers and finger foods provided by the culinary arts students at Washtenaw Community College, beer and wine, Perry's famous silent auction (everything from antiques to entertainment to gift baskets and more), a tag team pie eating competition, a pie walk featuring Zingerman's pies as prizes, a baking demonstration by French pie expert Brigitte Romero, raffles... an entire evening of festivity!

Tickets cost $40 in advance or $45 at the door.  If you bring a pie to the competition, that will count as your ticket; any companions you bring would need to purchase tickets for themselves, though.

To buy tickets online, click here.  You can also call 734-677-8130 and order/pay by phone, or send your request and payment to:

Perry Nursery School - Tickets
3770 Packard
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Join me at the fundraiser — it will be so much fun!  After all, how can you not love a party that helps kids?

When I went to visit the school recently, a beautiful little blonde girl came up to hug me for no reason other than sweetness; she didn't say one word, but she did smile and show me the gap where she'd just lost her first tooth.  

Perry provides her, and all of her friends at the school, with so many benefits: year-round education with extended childcare hours, a one-to-eight teacher-to-student ratio, sliding scale tuition, family support services, two meals and an afternoon snack each day, an emergency pantry, assistance with English as a second language (many students speak Spanish, Chinese, Russian and other languages at home), a social worker and speech therapist on site, and so much more.  It is an amazing place with such dedicated staff!  Whether you buy a ticket or bring a pie, just be sure to join me in supporting such a good cause.

Since I'll be tasting all the pies rather than competing with my own entry, I thought I'd at least offer some inspiration for everyone else. I baked this for my parents awhile ago, and my father said it was the best pie he'd ever eaten; considering that he's had nearly 85 years in which to sample the competition, I'd say he's a pretty good authority.

But if you think you've got a pie that's even better, be sure to register for the contest at Piepalooza and let me try it!

Cherry Almond Streusel Pie

1 9-inch deep dish pie crust in pan

4 cups tart cherries
1/8 cup reserved cherry juice or water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup cookie crumbs (I used Nilla wafers)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine cherries, cherry juice, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract; pour into the pie crust. Dot with butter.

In the same bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, brown sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon, and sliced almonds; stir in the melted butter and spread over the cherries.

Bake for 1 hour, until the topping is golden and the filling is starting to bubble up.

Serves 10-12.

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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions:

You should also visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Am reviewing recipes now to bring to the event March 14th, sounds delish!

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Wonderful! I'll look forward to seeing you there ... and to tasting your fabulous creation!

June Williams

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

Looking forward to the Perry Nursery School event again this year. Last year's Bake Off was great. What a fun and rewarding way to help Perry with their wonderful work with the students and their families.

Mary Bilyeu

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

It is going to be so much fun! I'll see you there ... :)

Cheryl Baryo

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

I think everyone should bring this pie to Piepaloooza! It sounds pretty tasty and the event is a lot of fun. See you there.

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

I am looking so forward to trying all the varieties of pie that will be competing! I'll also look forward to seeing you at the party ... :)

Russ Horning

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

I am glad such a grand event is planned for Perry Nursey School. I hope as many people as possible get to know about this event and wonderful organization. We need Perry Nursery in our community! Russ

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

That's my goal today - tell people about the great school, the cute kids, and that they can have fun at Piepalooza while supporting the good work that Perry does ....


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

That pie sounds and looks amazing!!

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

If I may say so myself, it's really good! Of all the pies I make, it's probably what I would consider my specialty - I even hand-pit hundreds of cherries each summer just to have them for pie ... :)

Jillian Rodriguez

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Perry Nursery is a great place, and this event is so much fun for a good (great!) cause!

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I hope you'll be able to attend!


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Yummy! Can't wait to try this pie. Can't wait to see you at the event on March 14th!!

Mary Bilyeu

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

I am looking SO forward to this event! Too much fun for a fabulous cause ... :)