Fun ways to celebrate Pi Day

You pecan-not believe all these fun ways to celebrate Pi Day. Photo courtesy of Dennis Wilkinson.

ABIGAIL OAKLEY | STAFF REPORTER | aloakley@butler.edu

It is almost time to celebrate everyone’s favorite math holiday on March 14: Pi Day. For those who haven’t thought about math since high school, pi is the ratio of the circumference and diameter of any circle, and its first digits are 3.14. Its discovery has become very important to the field of math, so it is only fitting that pi gets its own special day.

Even if you are not interested in math, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Pi Day. It is the perfect excuse to indulge in your favorite pie or pizza with friends and family.

Jackie Andrzejewski, a junior creative media and entertainment major, has been baking pies with her family for a long time and enjoys the social aspect of it.

“In my family we’re all very big in the kitchen,” Andrzejewski said. “Being all together in the kitchen made me really enjoy baking … I love baking anything that I can share with people.”

If you are not confident in your baking skills but still want to celebrate with a Pi Day pie, then there are many restaurants and stores that offer discounts on pies or pizzas on March 14. Here is a list of some of the Pi Day deals in Indianapolis:

  1. My Sugar Pie: a slice of any pie for $3.14
  2. Blaze Pizza: download the Blaze Pizza app and get an 11-inch pizza for $3.14
  3. Hungry Howie’s: $3.14 for a medium one-topping pizza with any breadstick purchase
  4. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen: buy one get one free for Homemade Chicken Pot Pies
  5. Kroger: fruit pies and deli pizzas for $3.14

The Butler math department will also be having a Pi Day celebration. Professors from the math department bring in pies and invite students to celebrate. All students are invited, not just those in the math department. Flyers will be posted in Jordan Hall with details closer to the event. 

Since Pi Day often lands during spring break, this celebration has not been able to happen for the past couple of years. This year, it falls on the Monday after spring break so the department is excited to start the tradition back up.

Amber Russell, an associate professor of math, statistics and actuarial science, commented on why she enjoys this celebration.

“If [students] are celebrating with the math department, it winds up being an opportunity for them to see their professors outside of the classroom,” Russell said. “I think it helps contribute to the wonderful, welcoming community that we have here at Butler.”

Another way to celebrate Pi Day is by learning the infinite digits of pi. If you are competitive, then this is a great activity for you. Whether for class or fun, it can be exciting and challenging to memorize as many digits of pi as you can.

DeJuan Winters, a senior math and physics double major, has almost one thousand digits of pi memorized. He said he’s been memorizing the digits since he was in middle school.

“I started back in sixth grade with 87 digits, and each Pi Day I try to have more and more done,” Winters said. “It was really just for fun … I thought it was pretty cool and just kept going with it.”

While this may sound like a difficult task, many memorization techniques can help. Linking small groups of digits, writing down the digits, visualizing them or using rhymes and songs such as “The Pi Song” or “The Irrationally Long Number Pi Song” can all be helpful strategies. There are also apps such as Pi and Memorize Pi Digits that are meant for this specific occasion. With so many tools out there to help memorize, Pi Day is the perfect opportunity for some healthy competition.

Whether baking or buying pies, memorizing digits or celebrating with the math department, Pi Day is a great opportunity to have fun, eat delicious food and learn something new. 

For those who are not experienced bakers, here are a couple of Andrzejewski’s favorite family recipes for inspiration:

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Ingredients

  • Crust
  • 1 ½ cups of finely crushed gingersnap cookies (I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnap Cookies. aggressively recommended.)
  • ⅓ cups brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • Filling (simple)
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 ¼ cups canned sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Filling (advanced, see directions in notes)
  • 15 ounces roasted pumpkin puree
  • 1 pie pumpkin, halved, seeded, roasted and skinned
  • 1 ¼ cups caramelized milk and cream
  • 2.5 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Topping

  • Whipped cream
  • Additional cinnamon or nutmeg

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Mix crushed gingersnaps, brown sugar, and butter together in a bowl until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom of the pie plate or springform/cake pan. Compact with a flat-bottomed cup on the bottom and up the sides of the plate/pan.
  • Bake until set, about seven minutes. Cool completely.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325F
  • Mix the puree, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, vanilla, and salt in a bowl to make the custard.
  • Pour into a prepared and cooled pie plate. Bake for one hour to one hour and ten minutes, or until custard is completely set.
  • Cool, and serve with whipped cream and cinnamon or nutmeg as desired.

Directions, Pumpkin Puree

  • Cut the top and bottom of a pie pumpkin (also can be called a sugar pumpkin), remove all seeds. Drizzle inside with neutral oil and place skin side up on a foil lined baking pan and roast at 400F for forty minutes or until pumpkins are soft.
  • Peel or scrape off skins. Process in a blender or mash by hand until completely smooth. If watery, place in a cheesecloth lining in a sieve and let drip for a few minutes or until it gets to appropriate thickness.
  • One small pie pumpkin produces roughly 2 cups of pumpkin puree

Directions, Caramelized Milk and Cream

  • Combine whole milk, heavy cream, and granulated sugar in a large pot. Whisk together.
  • Set pot over medium-high heat until simmering.
  • Once it starts to simmer, immediately reduce heat to medium and slowly simmer while whisking intermittently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the mixture reduced to about 1 ¼ cups, this will take at least twenty-five to thirty minutes. At room temperature, the consistency should match that of sweetened condensed milk.

Mom’s Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 premade pie crust

Directions

  • Preheat oven at 375F
  • Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, and eggs. Fold in ½ cup of chocolate chips and all of the pecans.
  • Line a pie plate with refrigerated pie crust. Pour mixture into pan
  • Bake at 375F for twenty-five minutes or until deep golden brown and set in center
  • Cool and refrigerate for at least one hour
  • Before serving, melt the remaining ½ cup chocolate chips in the microwave at twenty second intervals.
  • Drizzle chocolate over pie and serve!

Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Hand Pies

Makes 10-12 Hand Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 package of pre-made pie crust or puff pastry (2 sheets total)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoonblack pepper
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white wine (can sub with vegetable broth)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp of water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon pad
  • Melt butter in a large skillet or pot over medium high heat with olive oil. Add mushrooms and onion and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, and mushrooms are tender. Add in the thyme, rosemary, garlic, and salt and pepper. Add wine, reduce to medium heat and stir everything together. Continue cooking for another ten to fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything becomes caramelized and has a jammy consistency.
  • Once jammy, set the filling aside to cool for about thirty minutes, or until near room temperature (you don’t want the hot filling to melt the butter in your crusts)
  • Once the filling is cool, carefully roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Using a pie mold (or biscuit cutter, or anything that is about 3 inches in diameter, like a cup or a mason jar)
  • You can also cut squares out of the crust if you don’t have anything to make a circular shape with- just be careful to not drag the knife down and through the dough. Simply press the knife into the dough and lift straight back up, repeating until you cut out desired square shapes.
  • Place dough cut outs onto the lined baking sheet, leaving at least ½ inch – 1 inch of space between pieces. 
  • Using a small spoon, spoon filling into the center of the dough, about 1-2 tablespoons, leaving a ¼ inch border around the edge.
  • Brush the edges with egg, then place another piece of dough on top of the filling, sealing and crimping the edges with a fork. Lightly brush egg wash over the top. Using a knife, make a small cut on the top to allow steam to escape (it can be a slash, an X, a heart, your initials, go crazy)
  • Bake pies in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. 
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