2085 10th St * Los Osos, CA * www.sweetalexis.com * 805-528-8956


I LOVE this bakery! Co-owner Michele opened up her closed bakery when she busted me peeping in her window. She then answered a bunch of questions and played along while I snapped loopy pictures. ( See, Michele, I didn’t use the goofiest one! ) There was no pie on hand so I ran off with a bunch of vegan cookies that were FREAKING FABULOUS. How fabulous?  Michele told me they had just received their first huge order; FORTY THOUSAND COOKIES.


Michele beset by 40000 happy cookies

Sweet Alexis is named after Michele’s daughter and co-owner  Alexis, who was born with severe allergies. I had no idea they were life-threatening –  Michele humbly downplayed that detail – until I read their harrowing story HERE .

Nothing like nearly dying to perfect the art of allergy-free baking! Growing up, Alexis couldn’t enjoy the cookies and cakes she saw other kids eating, so she and her mom created a bakery to serve the needs of other similarly afflicted folks. What I adore about this is, while there are options for allergy-friendly, healthy eating ( albeit not always simple to pull off ), the options for allergy-friendly, celebratory treats are scarce. What, people with food allergies can’t have FUN too?! No cookies at school parties? Birthday cakes? Wedding cakes? COME ON!!

Enter Sweet Alexis Bakery.  They create cookies, cupcakes, breads, and cakes. There are several ways to order, including online! Everybody wins!


  • At their WEBSITE ( duh! )
  • At their bakery, 2085 10th St., Los Osos CA
  • At Teaberry Frozen Yogurt Cafe: 847 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA
  • call 805-528-8956 

On another allergy note, most of Sweet Alexis’ goods contain wheat and soy. Since it’s not all, if need be ask for which ones. Other FAQs are HERE.

And I ripped off the following from their website, this might appease some allergy worries:

“All Sweet Alexis Bakery products are produced in a dedicated commercial kitchen on dedicated commercial equipment – peanut free, egg free, tree nut, dairy free.

• WE ARE SCHOOL APPROVED. The Sweet Alexis Bakery is a licensed manufacturer and we are 100% nut free. All products are sealed, labeled and contain all the ingredient and allergen information. The very best part, our products are fresh baked, contain no preservatives and are so delicious no one will know they are allergen friendly. EVERYONE LOVES OUR COOKIES!”

I do love their cookies! In 5 seconds I’m clicking away from here and ordering Lemon Sugar, Ginger, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip.  As a dairy-challenged lass this bakery is the motherlode. Whoopee!

( Sorta ) BONUS:  Michele’s initial sketch appears more smiley and accurate than the inked final. In the name of my ego, here it is:


Ode to a thought process

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Surfing and Strolling near SWEET ALEXIS

SURFING:  I peeked around a bunch of corners and over hills and left with the impression that when surfing around here, one wishes people would leave, or one wishes people would show up. I experienced the latter when I trudged to a vast, empty beach we’ll call Intuitions. It wasn’t working, it was teeny, it was messy, and…well, in my state of surfless delusions, it was paddle-able. It also felt sharky. I shuffled my feet waiting around for a while, kinda sorta hoping someone else would show up. So we could spread the odds, you see. No one did, so I berated my wimpy self back to the Mighty Steed. A week later a shark chomped a surfer’s board at another local beach break. ‘Intuitions’ it is!

STROLLING/KAYAKING: Among other options, Montaña de Oro State Park can double as a hike / surf spot spy center, depending which way one chooses to sneak. I also fell in love with kayaking when I borrowed one and toodled around self-named ‘Elephant Bay.’ As in, never mind the defunct  Morro Bay Power Plant looming over the precious estuary, just look at those birds!




601 Baker St. * San Francisco CA  94117 * 415-614-9411 AND 16290 Main St. * Guerneville CA 95446 * 707-666-9411


It took several days before I realized that Chile Pie’s logo is NOT a wheel. This is understandable because my SPECIAL GUESTS this time ’round – Robert & William – are my bestest friends in the universe,  I love hanging out with them so much I’m constantly inviting myself to their house. Therefore I’m kind of  a…okay,  I AM The Third Wheel.

 I don’t consider being a Third Wheel an insult, because think about it, three legged structures are pretty stable. Would you want to sit on a two-legged stool!? Exactly.

 Besides, Chile Pie Baking Company has such a huge pie selection, it took a team of three to sample it, and a fourth to complete the eating process.  No kidding! Pies vary by season, and narrowing down the selection in the moment felt like minor torture. Check out their whopping menu HERE. Chocolate pumpkin?! Pear cranberry?! Frito pies?? What is this place?!

Attempting to dent this huge selection, one rainy Friday I hijacked Robert and William to Chile’s San Francisco panhandle location.  (Oh hail, appropriately named address.) Whereupon arrival I finally understood that I had rorschach tested myself on their logo;  ‘Chile’s Wheel’ is a PIE CRUST.  Well then.   Psychoanalyze THAT. Thus enlightened, we snagged a medley of take-out goodies: two chicken chile pot pies, two green chile apple pies, chicken hand pie, chocolate malted pie, and vegan apple chai pie.


Only one pie here plus the black shadow

  Oh my goodness. These pies are FANTASTIC. We ate in shocked silence which is a rarity for this trio of sarcastic chatterboxes.  My ‘contribution’, the vegan apple chai pie, defies description, and I’m still wondering if it’s the hand of god that chopped the apples so evenly and perfected the chai cinnamon spice. Everything got inhaled, barring a chicken chile and chile apple which I brought home to share with The Pie Eating Heathen.

 Then disaster! The chile apple pie features a cheddar cheese crust, which sounds amazing but I can’t digest dairy. Wait, what?! Who makes a blog about pie but can’t freaking digest dairy products? Yup, that casein is a doozy. Let’s just say I have a ‘system’,  but that said I can never, goshallmighty ever, eat cow’s milk cheese.

 This setback deterred me for .3 seconds until I grabbed a fork and, er, reshaped the interior of the chile apple slice. I warned the  Pie Eating Heathen, but having access to the entire chicken pot pie mellowed any potential protests regarding pie restructuring. His pies disappeared quickly too!

 We vowed to return to Chile’s and eat more pie. And YOU should vow, besides eating more pie, to check out Robert’s cartoon work. He’s an underground legend, and hilarious.


Unlike me, Robert draws excellent backgrounds

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[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]



2350 Meadows Blvd. * Castle Rock CO 80109 * 720-455-3664  www.mannasbounty.com

You can live on pho for 10 days, but around day 5 one starts craving variety. In the middle of a Colorado schooling stint, with no time to cook, I was told the best place for great, but inexpensive food was…in the HOSPITAL.

That’s right! In Castle Rock, people go to the hospital FOR THE FOOD. What the…?!?! I hauled my ass and my books there, chomped through delectable ceviche, and attacked the dessert menu.

PIE. Listed underneath ‘Homemade Salted Caramel Gelato “Sandwich” ‘ – ( holy crap! Gotta try that too ) – was ‘Sodacracker Pie with Fresh Berries.’  Have you ever heard of such a thing?! Sodacracker pie manifested as a surprise of scrumptious meringue festooned with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Before demolishing it I whipped out my camera and took photos. Nobody batted an eye, I suspect people take food photos in Manna on an hourly basis.

Woe unto me, my camera ate the photos. So I ripped off a pie photo via Manna’s Facebook account, then ironically thought it’d be a marvelous idea to draw while I was ill. Look at this beauty:


What. The fuck. Do note that the ‘101 F’ is written upside down, nice touch. Perhaps I’d have been better off IN the hospital than artistically butchering the hospital’s fine desserts. Rest assured, in real, healthy life the Sodacracker Pie is gorgeous and uniquely yummy! I was a repeat customer.

And why is Manna restaurant so freaking awesome?! Because it was created by a superstar and now run by one too. I was gonna paraphrase this intro but here’s the whole shebang, it’s so impressive:

‘Dan Skay was the opening Executive Chef at Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock Adventist Hospitals. Chef Dan worked on the design phase for Castle Rock Adventists’ Manna Restaurant. He is Nutrition Manager and Executive Chef for Manna with help from Chef de Cuisine Adam Freisem. In 1992, Chef Dan was the winner of the Great Chefs of America Culinary Competition and also the Grand Prize Winner of Custom Foods Golden Recipe Competition. Other accolades included winner of 1995 Premier Chefs of America, 1996 National Cully Award, 2000 Colorado Govenor’s Symposium Celebrating Colorado Cuisine, winning Best Colorado Entrée, and 2009 AHF National Culinary Competition Gold Medal Winner in Palm Springs, CA and the Wall Street Journal title of Hospital Top Chef. Most recently, Chef Dan won the national 2014 AHF Spotlight Award for innovation in healthcare food service and the MUFSO Best Concept Award.’

Chef Dan Skay and Adam Freisem make the hospital a place you go to ON PURPOSE. In addition, the wait staff was friendly and awesome. This team simply rocks it . In their honor, here is an awful picture of them. ( So sorry you guys!!)


Bravo, Manna Restaurant!!

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Surfing and Strolling near Manna Restaurant

[ Pie tastes best when you’re hungry ]

SURFING: If you know people in Castle Rock, I guess you could go couch surfing.

STROLLING: Lots of open space! But hurry, as developers are encroaching like aggressive slime mold. Front Range weather changes by the minute so be prepared to experience all four seasons. During summer, stroll during the morning, afternoons turn into exciting games of Thunder Dodge.



On the Main Street * Stokmarknes, Vesterålen * Norway

Upon hearing my pie plans for Stokmarknes my local friends advised, ” We have two bakeries and they are not very good. ” Undaunted, I visited both of them. This led me to discover the greatest chocolate bar EVER:


 Behold Viking chocolate. This giant nugget is thick as my little finger and soooo delicious. It’s found in stores all over Norway – admittedly I’m pretending to speak for the entirety of Norway, and I never wandered below the Arctic circle. Fantastic for hot chocolate and breaking off ‘just a wee bite to warm up, ‘ never mind this excuse being torpedoed by the warming Gulf Stream that chugs along the Norwegian coast.

Stokmarknes is also gingerbread-happy, and they host a gingerbread ‘house’  contest every year. The entries are displayed in a downtown window, and this is how I found myself standing on an Arctic sidewalk in December laughing out loud:


Bwaaah hahahahahaha!!!

Who made this Trump tower?! Can I invite them to dinner?! Can I make THEM president instead ?! Normally I don’t trace but for the sake of capturing every nuance I went for it here.  I love the Scandinavian style hearts and stars on the side of the building. The helicopter and martini glass  – ( oops forgot to draw it, pretend it’s on the floor behind the figurine ) – are fantastic details , could one be disqualified for adding non-edible elements?

It goes without saying this tower is an infinite improvement on the larger version. Stokmarknes, you and your gingerbread parodies are forever in my heart!

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SURFING and STROLLING in Stokmarknes

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

SURFING: There is! More or less. My surfing friend/host was telling me about various places that probably work. On the right swells. In summer. Some exploration and patience is in order. Bucket list!

STROLLING: Repeat the following, ” No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, and you should be fine. Surrounded by mountains and fjords, Stokmarknes has 360º of hikes of various lengths and difficulties. ESSENTIAL, however, are ‘pigger’, that means ‘shoe spikes’ in Norwegian. Forgo spiked shoes and you’ll enjoy a worm’s eye view – because you fell on your ass – of locals literally running down the icy street.

 One of my favorite walks is the Stokmarknes Aurora Interval Training Workout. This stroll cannot be planned, nor is there a set path. To find this trail, you A) Park yourself at your Stokmarknes friends’ house, stay up half the night, and obsess over the current-time, online Tromsø magnetometer. B) When the levels start spiking, throw on your warm clothes, run outside and up the water tower hill. C) Pace around, “Ooo”,” Aaaa”,  and enjoy nature’s light show. D) Walk down the hill when the aurora peters out, then run back up the hill when you’re at the bottom and the green lady makes another appearance. E) Return to your friend’s house when the sky calms down, repeat A-E multiple times. F) Hot chocolate and collapse.



KAFFEBONNA * Stortoget 3 * 9008 Tromsø * NORWAY * 47 77 63 94 00

Part bakery/cafe, part pit-stop from the weather, this ideally located bakery is within walking distance from anywhere in Tromsø’s center. Surrounded on two sides by large windows, you can sit with your pie and coffee, ogle the Arctic blue light, and if you sit strategically facing south-east ( lame tourist’s guess ), across the water you face what could be the grandest homage to a baked good anywhere:


Behold, the Ishavskatedralen, aka The Arctic Cathedral, and pride of Tromsø.  The reasons for the Ishavskatedral’s iconic design are still up for speculation. If you’re anyone but me. CLEARLY this landmark is an enormous piece of pie! I mean, take a look:


Is it not obvious

Holy Pie Wedge!

I recommend the Tromsø pie pilgrimage; walk across the bridge aka wind tunnel to the Ishavskatedral. Pay respects. Walk back to the sentrum and experience the true meaning of wind chill. Seek shelter in Kaffebønna and delight in pie and a delicious cup of coffee, all the while with the northernmost icon of pie within sight. Lovely!

Quick note: I did cheat as Kaffebønna did not have pie on the day I visited. In addition, with 9 hours of jet lag an interview seemed foolhardy. So I ordered the next closest thing to pie, a kanelsnurr. No you sickos, it is not brains, though appearances look deceiving in the picture. Nor is it ‘Camel snot’ though a bad translation is tempting. Kanelsnurr is aka ‘cinnamon swirl” a not-sticky, most outstanding cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten! I don’t know what they did to it, but le swirl was light, not-too-sweet, and thus a cinch to eat in one sitting. Can I have another, please?!


Defective Sketch of Successful Pastry Event!

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The northernmost brewery! Arctic tapas! Beer samples! Tromsø Beer Safari is a hoot and plan for 10 samples not 5 which I misheard in the beginning, oh my.  You probably don’t need to buy tickets 6 months in advance like I did, but who am I to argue with long term goals. Tromsø Beer Safari will not disappoint!


Surfing: There is! Kind of. In the general area. There are also known places in Lofoten, nowhere near Tromsø of course, but hey since we’re in the same part of the world…. check out my next bucket list item: Unstad Arctic Surf.

Strolling: EVERYONE walks in Norway. Inclement weather is no excuse. In Tromsø , as previously mentioned there is the Pie Pilgrimage stroll from Kaffebønna to the Arctic Cathedral and back. Or, point your feet at a peak or well-marked-on-a-tourist-map trail and go. Prestvannet is a local lake that makes for a small easy hike and I’ve vowed to return to Tromsø to ‘attempt’ it. The real challenge strolling around here is not feeling embarrassed falling on one’s arse while locals are BICYCLING UP icy hills!



3 Locations!

PEASANT PIES * 1039 Irving Street ( Inner Sunset ) / 550 Gene Friend Way ( Misison Bay ) / 4108 24th St. ( Noe Valley) * www.peasantpies.com

Peasant Pies are touted as meals-to-go, which is true enough, but they should also be called, ‘meals-at-speed’ because that’s how fast I ate them. Walking out with peasant pies in hand is like scoring giant cookies, and they are eaten accordingly. With three locations in San Francisco, you cannot escape the Lure of the Pies. You canNOT. I visited the storefront on Irving St., just a couple of blocks away from Golden Gate Park. My Plan A) was to take my purchases to the park for a nice picnic. This is foolishness. Those buggers disappeared before I hit the first stoplight. My next Great Plan was to bring them home to heat up. The Peasant Pies clerk knew better and asked if I wanted them warmed first. “No”, I smugly replied, ” I’ll heat them up at home.”

You know what happened. The lesson here is, always take the advice of someone wearing an apron with the words, ‘ Pies for the People’ spelled out on the front. Note to self: at least these pies taste really dandy when they’re cold.

The gurus behind this mini chain are owner/manager Ali Keshavarz and chef Gerard Buulong. their goal was handheld, affordable meals, and they nailed it. On the menu are meat and poultry, veggie, and sweet pies, as well as homemade soups and salads. They also pulled a double miracle, and made these goodies AFFORDABLE. In San Francisco!! Way to go, you guys!! Ali got his masters in organic chemistry, which I suspect has led to some awesomely creative edibles. I demolished a black bean & tofu pie, then a lentil and yam pie, both mildly spicy, delicious, and unlike anything I’ve ever had. My boyfriend nommed a chicken pot pie and a Chinese beef/hoisin sauce special of the day, both earned double thumbs up. That’s right, pies can change according to request and need so you HAVE TO KEEP COMING BACK. I know I will. I haven’t finished plowing through their menu.

 I have to give a big shoutout to Ali Kesharav and chef Gerard Buulong, because in the name of stuffing more pie reviews in here I’m forging ahead in lieu of doing their really, really deserved portrait. Instead, take a look at the Peasant Pies logo up top. That is the logo that marks Peasant Pies eateries. Well, mostly. I replaced their logo boy with…*drum roll *……….


  • *Our first GUEST: CHRIS  ‘The OneHundredPercent ‘ LEE!

Our first guest is here in spirit. No really. He is, literally, a spirit. You can cue the woo-woo ghosts sounds now. Chris was one of the very first supporters of my Cuckoo comics back when I was just starting and terrified. I used to run into him at small comics conventions and he exuded faith in my comics and what I was doing when I was rightfully mortified at my efforts. Still am. Support over the years like this is priceless. And Chris went all out and lifted the hearts of MANY!

We remained Facebook buddies where he was outstanding for his smart-ass remarks. He was a rare poet, I mean, not the Oh-God-Run-Away kind but a really great poet whose stuff you actually, truly WANTED TO READ and had FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT AFTERWARDS. Most infamously I found myself laughing out loud from something he wrote while he was stuck ( literally!) in the hospital. Wait a minute, shouldn’t this go the other way around?!? I also failed to tell him – and I’m sure he’d like to know – that up until 2 weeks ago, I only glimpsed at his moniker and literally thought he called himself ‘Chris THUNDERPANTS Lee.’ The name blended with his essence so well it was unquestionable. It never occurred to me to actually READ his entire name, oh no. Whatever name Chris chooses, he crossed planes recently and his birthday coincides with this *Pies of the West entry , so Chris, this one is just for you!

Chris loved comics and other self-proclaimed ‘dork culture’ elements, especially Doctor Who. By a pre-planned coincidence, a gigantic, fantastical video rental store ( **stop laughing they still exist ) called Le Video sits only 3 blocks from Peasant Pies. In the name of awesomeness, here we are rampaging through the BBC section of Le Video, sporting ninja one-sies and tossing pies:


Chris TheOneHundredPercentor is it THUNDERPANTS?!! – I know you are out and about cavorting! Enjoy your wonderful adventure in the time machine, and tell us all about them when we meet up again in the Phone Booth!


* Chris’ real birthday is March 1! His birthday isn’t the date of THIS blog entry, it’s the date of this blog entry on my original Pies of the West blog. Why? Because the original blog  got falootfarranking EATEN by the Internet. Every word and picture has been transposed by laborious hand.

** OR DO THEY?! Since the original posting, Le Video has closed! Boohoo!

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SURFING and STROLLING near Peasant Pies

[ Pie tastes best when you’re hungry ]

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* Due to the internet eating my original Pies of the West site, everything has been painstakingly re-entered, albeit in a different order. Despite appearances, Chris ‘Thunderpants’ Lee remains our first honored guest!

Special Guest! Stacey Marie

Pies of the West Presents: special guest STACEY MARIE !

(Experimental Baking in a Properly Equipped Kitchen)


Chef Improvisator Extraordinaire

Stacey Marie and I met on a surf/camping trip and instantly recognized each other from the Tribe of Dork; Girly Tomboy Division. She is a wicked improvisatory cook and a massage therapist with a cult following, check out her business * cough plug cough * Pacifica Massage and Wellness.

Why Guest Star this lass? One day at Home Break, Stacey charged into a detonating wave with such panache that her pummeling is seared into memory forever. I was curious how this chutzpah spelled out in the kitchen, so we arranged for an experimental pie-bake. Heed our results:

After hemming  and hawing we decided to flow with a) vegan curry tofu pie, and b) peapple pie. What is peapple pie? Primarily, it’s not PEOPLE pie, as my effing autocorrect insists. Peapple pie is peach and apple, pronounce at your own risk.

Stacey’s kitchen is chock full of spices and ingredients, plus mixers and quality Useful Gadgetry. Polar opposite of cooking in my kitchen – mine’s that puzzle you’re working on with missing pieces, but you don’t know which pieces and you don’t even know what the damn picture is since the puzzle box lid accidentally got recycled. Just as well Stacey’s place is prepared, as we had some challenges. And I’m not talking our music playlist that refused to comply until we put on Kevin Costner. ( You must try this. )

Our first challenge was the crust, and we chose two; vegan xantham-gum free, and polenta. Xantham gum , that which binds all together, is common in vegan dishes but turns my gut into Waterloo. Ok. Nix the xantham.

How does vegan xantham-free dough turn out? Why, like shit.


Best use for vegan-xantham-free dough; as Rage Missile

We did everything right; mixed it just so, gently mooshed the dough, freezered the dough, coddled that dang dough. Despite our efforts the dough kept breaking off into a zillion crumbs like so many rabbit turds. In the end we pushed bits of the mixture into little pie tins with our thumbs – rest assured this is not a move Stacey pulls on clients. In any case the crusts were U.G.L.Y. But effective. By the time we reached the final dollops of dough, it was warm. And what happened? It stuck together and rolled out! Did we hallucinate, or does vegan xantham-free dough work better when it’s WARM?!?! Arrrrg!

No debate here, the best thing to do with vegan xantham-free dough is to hurl it as a Rage Missile at Kevin Costner while he’s singing. The two are meant to be together. To illustrate, I only had one measly sheet of paper to mess with, so I present zero perspective, Mr. Costner doesn’t look remotely like himself, and his legs are stumps:


How fitting.

Now it was time for polenta. We simply boiled the polenta, threw in some vegan butter, and after it cooled we – easily, mind you – placed it into the wee tins and pre-baked to harden the crust. Perfection. *Ding ding dingdingdingdingdingding!!* Polenta wins!

Stacey walked me through the ingredients for the curry pie; tofu, celery, mushrooms, squash, onion, ginger, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, coriander, water, coconut oil, some kind of voodoo salt, what other spices am I missing? The curry itself involved this process of caramelizing tomato paste, garlic, ginger, onion, spices, coconut oil, water as needed by cooking the lot in a saucepan until it was scrape-able off the bottom of the pan. Here I discovered the merits of proper wooden spoons for scraping and tasting and ingredient wrangling. Totally better than metal ones from garage sales don’t ask.

Next we mixed and cooked the rest of the ingredients, where Stacey enlightened me that it’s best to cut food into same-sized pieces, so every bit will cook at the same speed. Another one of those slap-head-obvious-but-I’d-never-ever-guess and it’s great tips!

Not obvious was stumbling into an unexpected PERIL – Stacey’s mom called during the chopping process. Public service announcement: if you value your life, do NOT answer certain phone calls while baking. We almost lost it here. Note below how Stacey keeps her cool, though the ingredients suffer from emotive transference.


Disaster averted, we made way for the peapples. These babies couldn’t have been easier. Chop the peaches and apples into same size bits, plop into wee tins featuring lovely polenta or goddamn vegan xantham-free crusts and BAM! Ready to bake.

In the end we had DELICIOUS vegan curry and peapple pies that tasted fantastic. Every bite vanished within 24 hours. Stacey, you’re a genius! Not even our rabbit-turd vegan dough ruined the filling flavor. Shazaaaaam!

So there you have it. Stacey’s vegan curry recipe is super nommy, peapple pie is ‘new’ and delicious, and I like my first portrait so much I’m including it twice:


Look, I can do flattering portraits too

Thank you, Stacey Marie!

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Xantham gum is:

a) your friend

b) some nasty s***

c) a deity from Scientology

d) everywhere

Polenta is:

a) a type of Italian car

b) a word that almost rhymes with ‘Olestra’, but doesn’t

L)  your new best friend

d) mysterious

Kevin Costner:

a) is also mysterious

b) bakes pie but probably not with xantham-free vegan dough

c) did a great job with ‘The Hatfields and McCoys’

y) has a sense of humor such that he will overlook my mockery and super crap doodle

Peapple Pie is:

a) trademarked by Stacey Marie and Madison

b) unpronounceable

x) perfect for all meals and occasions

d) too yummy to be a Rage Missile

Vegan Tofu Curry Pie is:

a) healthy and delicious

9) great, so long as you avoid the rabbit-turd xantham-free vegan dough

*) a hippie’s dream

V) genius invention of Stacey Marie