New Englanders are justifiably proud of their fruit pies, and Kara Romanik is no exception. She’s doubly proud because she’s making Mamie’s Pies the way her grandmother and mother made them. In fact, Mamie’s Pies is named after Kara’s mother.
“My grandmother Nana was born in Massachusetts and lived there her whole life. I’ve lived in California for over 20 years, but I grew up in Bedford, New Hampshire, and lived in New England for more than 30 years. Pie is an important part of our culinary tradition.”
“My mother, Mamie, learned how to make pie from her mother, and she was famous for her pies. She taught my sisters and me to make the dough when we were kids. Of course, we used the traditional method of incorporating the shortening into the flour by ‘cutting” with two knives. Then we had to mix it with a fork, quickly and lightly. After we rolled the dough for the pies our mother was making, we could sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the trimmings and bake them for our own treats.”
Mamie can’t believe her daughter makes pies for a living and named the business after her. “In New England, good pie-making is taken for granted.”
After a degree in economics from Bentley University and a career as a broker with Merrill Lynch, Kara was looking for something that would let her exercises her love of selling and interacting with customers with her creative bent. A move to managing retail stores was a step in the right direction. But pies were in her future.
“When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, she told me that they might have to cancel their dance, because they didn’t have the money for the dj. I decided to do a fundraiser for them, and of course I would make Mamie’s pies. I talked with the teacher, and she thought we should have 120 9” pies. I could make them, but I needed a place to keep them frozen.”
Kara called the manager of United Market in San Rafael and explained what she was doing and why. They not only provided freezer space, but also helped with wrapping the pies. The students enthusiastically sold the pies, and enough money was raised for a dj for their dance.
In June 2013, Kara branched out with her pocket pies, which were an instant hit. “A single serving dessert that’s preservative-free and low-sugar meets so many needs. Family gatherings where not everyone wants the same flavor, on-the-go treats, even ball games. Nothing is more American than baseball and apple pie, and now the ball park where our local semi-pro team, the San Rafael Pacific, plays has Mamie’s Pocket Pies for sale!”
The pies are sold frozen and go from the freezer to the oven to the table. “Anyone who’s not really a baker loves them. They get the satisfaction of a freshly baked pie, the wonderful aroma while it’s baking, and the praise of everyone who enjoys them.”
Many people have become conditioned to the fillers and additives that are found in commercially made baked goods. Not so with Mamie’s Pies. Kara says, “When I do a demo at a retailer, it’s common for people to exclaim, ‘Wow! I taste fruit.’ I’m proud of that.”