Day Trips



Pam Murray displays one of her Pam Made Pies.

photograph by Gerald E. McLeod

Pam Made Pies of Pflugerville weigh a ton and taste twice as good. These pies are not for the diet-conscious, but rather are targeted for the cuisine connoisseur who loves to cap a good meal with a tasty dessert that accentuates a fresh cup of coffee.

From the small bakery on FM1825 off I-35 north of Austin, Pam Murray turns out between 125 and 600 pies per week. The larger number happens the week before major holidays, when her pecan pies are in great demand. She made 1,018 pies the week before last Thanksgiving. Most weeks she and her small crew make around 200 pies.

The pecan pies, which come in regular or creamy, bourbon or German chocolate, are Murray's most famous and popular. From an old Southern recipe, the heavy nut pie is distinctively different than the run-of-the-mill store-bought pie. Nothing is skimped when Murray selects the freshest ingredients.

Murray started her pie business after a career in sales. "I had a dream to do something I loved," says the small town entrepreneur. "I looked around and no one was making really great pies, but then I didn't realize how labor-intensive it was going to be." Now she makes 20-quart batches of pies 16 to 20 times a day from recipes she collected and tweaked to perfection over the years.

Murray baked for restaurants before forming her own business, and she now services eight to 10 restaurants in the Austin area as well as several of the gourmet grocery stores.

When she opened her retail outlet at 103-B W. Pecan St. in Pflugerville, Murray expanded her line of pies to include fruit-filled cream pies. She has a peach pie with a pecan topping that is heaven for pie lovers. The Southern-style chess pies are butter-rich and fresh. "Texans don't like to eat cream pies in the summer heat," she says. They will eat pecan pie, the national pie of Texas, all year.

In downtown Pflugerville and surrounded by several suburban subdivisions, Murray had the brilliant idea of adding casseroles to her menu. The partially cooked meals are ready to take home to throw in the oven for final heating before the family gets home hungry for a tasty dinner. The perfect shortcut for the area's soccer moms and dads. Only available at the retail outlet, the casseroles are of several varieties: enchiladas, lasagna, and chicken.

Not inexpensive, Murray's pies and casseroles run about $12 each, but once you've tasted one you'll probably agree that the made-from-scratch pies are worth the extra expense. The little bakery in Pflugerville is open Monday through Friday, 2:30-6:30pm (mornings are spent baking). To find out what will be available, give Pam Murray a call at 990-7230.


Coming up this weekend ...

Holidays at Heritage Park brings special decorations and shopping opportunities to downtown Pflugerville, Oct. 6-8. 252-2821.

Fall Festival of Roses at the eight-acre garden of the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence brings out top gardening experts to discuss preparation and planting techniques for the fall season, Nov. 6-7. 409/836-5548.

Wurstfest in New Braunfels continues nightly through Sunday with lots of sausage, strudel, pretzels, and oompah music on the banks of the Comal River. 830/629-4607.

Tour de Gruene offers recreational cyclists a chance to tour and race down River Road through the beautiful banks of the Guadalupe River. Proceeds go to the San Antonio Bicycle Club and the Friends of the Rivers, Nov. 7-8. 830/625-2385.

Happy Holidays Christmas Bazaar at the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram invites craftsmen and artists to display and sell their works, Nov. 7, 9am-4pm. 830/367-5121 or http://www.hcaf.com.

Dedication of the Spanish Tigers' New Home at the Texas Exotic Feline Foundation in Boyd honors the hundreds of individuals and companies that contributed to the habitat for the four circus tigers rescued from a sweltering ship in the Port of Brownsville. Ceremonies will be Nov. 7 at 2pm. 940/433-5091.

Texas Renaissance Festival only has two more weekends for this year's season of fun and frolic in a re-created 16th-century village outside of Plantersville, through Nov. 15. 800/458-3435.


Coming up ...

Eyeopeners Adventures sponsored by the Orange Show Foundation of Houston will take visitors on a tour of 60 outdoor murals in Houston, Nov. 15. 713/926-6368 or http://www.insync.net/~orange.

Heritage Syrup Festival in Henderson revives the art of making ribbon cane syrup along with bluegrass music, and lots of fun, Nov. 14. 903/657-4303.

Freddy Fender Homefest in Harlingen raises funds for a scholarship fund and includes a concert by the local music legend, Oct. 14. 956/399-5645.

Self-Taught Artist of the 20th Century displays the work of American folk artists at the Amon Carter Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through Jan. 24. Interpretive programs will be offered during the exhibit highlighting the variety of styles and materials used. 817/738-1933 or http://www.cartermuseum.org and 817/738-9215 or http://www.mamfw.org.

Texas Forests Forever is a new CD-ROM produced by the Texas Forestry Association and narrated by Nolan Ryan. An interactive program designed for students in the third through eighth grades, the CD looks at the multiple uses of the East Texas forests. Available for $15 plus $5 shipping and handling. To receive an order form, call the Forestry Association at 409/632-TREE or visit their Web site at http://www.lcc.net/~tfa.

Discover the Rio Grande Valley with Time-Life writer Bill Starr in his book of lore and legends of an area crossed by Spanish conquistadors, pirates, bandits, and immigrants for a period of time longer than any other place in the U.S. Historical Tourist Guide to the Rio Grande Valley is a unique guide to an uncommon place. To get your copy, send check or money order payable to Bill Starr, 107 S.E. Harris, Burleson, TX 76028.

Looking for cheap holiday airfares? Check out these Internet sites for online travel information. Preview Travel, http://www.previewtravel.com; Travelocity, http://www.travelocity.com; Microsoft's Expedia, http://expedia.msn.com; or Best Fares Discount Traveler magazine, http://www.bestfares.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Daytrips, Travel, Regional, Hill Country, Gerald Mcleod

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