A few years ago I was on a road trip to Washington by way of North Idaho as I headed to the tiny city of Palouse to visit an art gallery. I drove past rolling hills covered in golden wheat that eventually gave way to fields of lentils. As far as my eyes could see there was nothing else.

After several miles, I entered a small community that consisted of a few store fronts, the art gallery, and, surprisingly, a tea room. This is where I had my very first taste of Fidget Pie.

Now don’t ask me how this savory potato and ham concoction made its way to Palouse from County Shropshire, England where it is said to have originated, but that was the menu choice of the day, and boy, was I glad. I do believe the unexpected surprise of finding this English tea shop in the middle of nowhere made my lunch extra delicious.

After researching Fidget Pie, so called because it was originally made in a five-sided or “fitched” dish, I found that there are several renditions of this delightful comfort food. However, I developed the recipe below to replicate the Fidget Pie I enjoyed that day at the Bank Left Tea Room as closely as I could, using cream to moisten the potatoes, ham, leeks, and apples.

As in just about every recipe I share, there’s flexibility with Fidget Pie, which, by the way, also makes a flavorful, unexpected brunch dish that can be made the night before then warmed in the oven for serving time.

Variations include using a large baking pan and doubling the recipe if feeding a crowd. The bottom crust can also be omitted if you choose. Instead of ham, leftover pork roast or cooked sausage can be substituted and it’s fine to use onions if you don’t have leeks.

Cream can be replaced by stock, cider or a good stout. Just incorporate these liquids into the cooking pan with the other ingredients before spooning it all into the baking dish. Lastly, use good sturdy apples and don’t be afraid of the sage and nutmeg. Mind the salt as the ham will make the pie salty enough.

My lovely luncheon in Palouse was finished off with a couple cups of Baroness Grey tea and a piece of warm-from-the-oven Bundt cake. In remembrance, I’ve included my favorite Bundt cake here. I don’t often use boxed mixes but after you eat a slice of this cake, you’ll understand why this is a keeper. It’s inspired by one of my favorite sundaes, pistachio ice cream with hot fudge sauce.

If you’re going to have pie and cake for supper, this versatile spinach salad balances it all out and keeps you from feeling terribly guilty. Once again, I’ve pulled one of Mom’s favorites out of my recipe card file. Popeye Salad is a way to coheres kids (and grown-ups) into eating their greens and the flavor of this salad is perfect with the savory pie.

Fidget Pie

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1small leek, chopped (white part only)
  • 3 firm apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped or 1/2-1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups cooked ham, diced
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1 egg, beaten Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place pastry for bottom crust in pie pan.

Melt butter in skillet. Add potato and leeks. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add apple slices and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in ham and seasonings just to warm.

Transfer to pastry-lined pie pan. Gently fold in cream. Top with pastry, cut vents, and brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes then lower temperate to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or a bit more, until potatoes are tender, covering pie with foil if it begins to become too brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Popeye Salad

  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach
  • 2-3 cups sliced strawberries or mandarin oranges or fresh pineapple chunks or a combination of all three
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • Place spinach and fruit in salad bowl. Whisk together all other ingredients and use to dress the salad.
    Yield: 4-6 servings

Pistachio Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pistachios or walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 box instant pistachio pudding
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 cup chocolate syrup
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a Bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips and nuts with flour. Sprinkle these in bottom of Bundt pan.

With an electric mixer, blend all other ingredients except chocolate syrup and confectioners’ sugar. Reserve 1 cup batter. Pour remaining batter into Bundt pan. Stir chocolate syrup into reserved batter. Pour chocolate batter evenly over the top of pistachio batter. Bake 1 hour. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto plate. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Yield: 10-12 servings