My two sisters are as passionate about food as I am.  It’s in our DNA.    On visits to my home town of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan,  we cooked for each other and we cook together.  It is a marvellous way to spend your vacation.

My older sister,  Mona,  has what is known as “a dab hand with pastry”.  She has a special marble counter exactly the right height for rolling pastry.  She uses lard for all her pies – sweet and savoury.  Her pastry is so light so flaky it literally drifts on to your plate.  She keeps everything chilled.  Even her flour.  In her opinion using a pie bird is the secret for tender pastry for chicken pot pipe.

We were making chicken pot pie.  My sister  putting the chicken filling together and rolling out pastry..  My job  – to make the béchamel sauce.  The  sauce that binds.   To add extra flavour to the chicken pot pie I used rich chicken stock instead of milk and made it extra thick. After it was cooked I thinned it with a generous amount of cream.  You do know I have a reputation for gilding the lily.

The pie bird was positioned in the centre of the filling. On went the pasty with a slit cut for the bird.    The edges were crimped.  A little egg wash and the crust was sprinkled with coarse sea salt.    The pie bird vents excess moisture from the pie filling (whether it is chicken and vegetables or fresh fruit), and  prevents a soggy pie crust .  These ceramic birds are available in most well stocked kitchen shops.

Now you know my older sister Mona’s secret for amazing pie crust . A trick to use the next time you make a  juicy fruit or chicken pot pie.   Tell your friends “a little bird told you”!



  1. Good morning my far away friend.
    I can not find the recipe for the sauce of the chicken pot pie. This is something Pops will make for sure.
    Think of you often.

    • We must keep Pops cooking. The classic white sauce is quick to make. One tablespoon butter, one tablespoon flour, one cup of milk, salt and pepper to taste. Melt the butter in a saucepan, mix in the flour and let cook for a minute or two, then add the milk and whisk until thickened. Add a little more flour is you want a thicker sauce. You can substitute rich chicken stock for milk. Bon Appetit dear friend.

  2. Sing a song of sixpence
    A pocket full of rye
    Four and twenty blackbirds
    Baked in a pie

    When the pie was opened
    The birds began to sing!

    I love your sister’s trick, Virginia. Gorgeous crust! Does the little pie birdie have a story?

    • Dear Miss T. As child I was quite perplexed about this song. How could the birds be baked in a pie and then still sit up and sing. I don’t know where dear Sister found the pie bird, but she has been using it for more than fifty years. As for that chicken pot pie I shameless admit to have a second helping. XX Virginia

  3. I love to make chicken pot pie and will try your gilded lily sauce the next time. I have heard of having ingredients for pie crusts chilled but never tried it as I never think about it until I am ready to make it. What fun for you and your sisters to cook together like that! The bird is adorable! I remember seeing them in specialty kitchen shops but have never had one. Perhaps the next time I see one I will buy one. Thanks to your sister for the tips!

    You do know where The Tin Man is, don’t you? Spain and now in France! He is posting photos on Facebook and tempting us all with food, wine and marvelous hotels and sights! I can’t wait for his posts on his blog. I do envy him. It was so nice to find one of your posts! Cheers!

    • Chicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite one-dish meals. It’s the bechamel sauce that gives this dish added richness and flavour. Now all you need is a pie bird Jo Nell. Cheers Virginia

    • Have you a pie bird, dear girl? I didn’t have one and the very first time I visited my local thrift shop I found one. Obviously written in the stars! Now if I can just make pastry as perfect as my older sister. Cheers, Virginia

    • Dear Janet, It seems more than ever I long for comfort food. I ask my friends and family “what are you having for dinner tonight?” I end up making meals from my childhood. Such as English Shepherd’s Pie. We are doing well staying safe. It helps we live in the country and function in a village. We avoid box stores. We always wear a mask when we go out and right now we are in a bubble of two. My husband and myself. It is the same for everyone in our area and will not change until the New Year. (hopefully then). This Christmas no family gathering. Will just be Zooming. All the best to you and all you love for the holiday season. XXXX Virginia

      • Our two daughters, one with a husband, and one sister-in-law always come from Christmas, but my husband and I called it off this year. Our younger daughter would have to take two flight and be in three airports each way, our other daughter and s-i-l live in southern California so it’s hard to know what rules will be in force by then, and my s-i-l has health issues. Safer to Zoom or Facetime. But my parents are here as are my brother and his family, so we won’t be alone, even though it will be quite different. Have a blessed holiday as well.

    • Dear Geri, When three sisters get together and cook it can be pretty interesting. Everyone has their own method to do things but my younger sister and myself always acquiesce to our older sister (who is 90 years old). Her pastry is superb and she continues to be an avid baker. Bon Appetit Virginia

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