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The sweet life: Deer Park middle school teacher Patti Adams retires to pursue pie passion full time

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

As a kid in 4-H, Patti Adams won a blue ribbon for her cherry pie. “I still have that ribbon somewhere,” she said. Adams learned her way around the kitchen early using a well-worn copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook as her guide.

“My mother worked full time, so my two sisters and I did a lot of the cooking and baking,” Adams recalled. “My mom was great. She ate whatever we fixed and didn’t complain.”

Though she took her turn preparing family meals, it was the sweet stuff that drew her. “I gravitated toward baking. I loved to bake pies. It was easy for me, and I enjoyed doing it.”

Now, after a 34-year teaching career at Deer Park Middle School, Adams is retiring to pursue pies full time. In 2014, at the urging of her sister, Jan Constable, she launched Patti’s Pies, selling her handmade treats at local farmers markets.

Since then, she’s juggled her job as a P.E. teacher with her baking business. “Jan was the wind beneath my wings,” Adams said of her sister. “She helped me with my business plan.”

Working out of a commercial kitchen in Spokane Valley, Adams logged lots of miles and spent a great deal of time hauling supplies from her Five Mile Prairie home to the Valley and back.

“That was so hard,” she said. “My mom’s in her 80s, and she helped me, and my husband Craig (a teacher at Ferris) has been very supportive, but I knew I couldn’t build a business that way.”

So, in 2015, the Adams family added a certified kitchen onto their attached garaged. “I finally got to bake in my own kitchen!” she said.

Adams still uses the Betty Crocker pie crust recipe she learned to make as a child but has made modifications along the way. “I don’t use any lard, shortening or butter, so all my fruit pies are vegan,” she said.

Her most popular fruit pies are strawberry rhubarb and triple berry made with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Adams takes full advantage of local produce.

“I’ve got a huge blackberry patch on Five Mile,” she said. “My neighbor has raspberries and lets me trade for cherry pies, and we have lots of rhubarb.”

Her popular cream pies include banana, chocolate and coconut, and some specialty pies are made from family recipes.

“I use my sister Jan’s Tollhouse pie recipe and make my mother-in-law’s lemon pie,” Adams said.

The Tollhouse pie features a single-layer crust filled with chocolate chip cookie dough, and the lemon cream cheese pie is light, fluffy and tart.

Adams laughed. “We always have more food than people at our family gatherings – that’s how we show our love.”

Patti’s Pies are now available at Wonder Saturday Market, Kendall Yards Night Market and Fairwood Farmer’s Market. She also does special orders for weddings and company parties.

The pandemic hasn’t slowed her business growth. “We sold 260 pies last Thanksgiving,” she said. Family and friends stepped in to help. Buyers purchased pies online and then picked them up curbside at her home.

Given the trying times, Adams was surprised by the volume of sales. “People bought pies for others who were struggling, companies bought pies for clients because they couldn’t do parties,” she said.

At Christmas, she sold 60 pies. “I’ve been blessed over and over,” Adams said. “It’s a labor of love that just keeps growing.”

Wednesday was her last day of teaching, and now she’ll be able to focus full time on pies. That means coming up with some new ideas.

One of them is pie shakes. leftover pies blended with ice cream. Another is selling pie crust crumbles sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Adams can’t wait to get back to baking.

“I’m looking forward to being able to get up in the morning, turn on some music and bake,” she said. “The kitchen is my sanctuary, my happy place.”

For more about Patti Adams and her Patti’s Pies, go to pattispies.com.

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