Saturday, March 14, 2009

Humble Pie

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My maternal grandmother played a very large role in forming who I’ve become, and although she is no longer with us, she continues to impact me in positive ways.
One way is the legacy she left behind with recipes. Grandma didn’t have a book that she kept for herself, but she did often submit recipes to various churches for publication in their fundraising cookbooks.
None of her recipes were ever very fancy or spicy or complicated; it was humble food, reflecting the era she belonged to and the area she grew up in.
Grandma was a true Midwestern cook; heaping portions of hearty food filled with local ingredients (corn and pork) and served with love.
Born in 1908, she came of age at a time when the nation’s economy was at its worst – a bit like today. Much of her cooking was influenced by lack rather than abundance and this recipe for buttermilk pie reflects that era very well.
I will share the recipe how it was originally written and add deciphering notes at the end for anyone who may need them.
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Buttermilk Pie
Printable Recipe

Sift 1 1/2 c. sugar together with 2 1/2 Tbsp. (rounded) flour and add 1 c. buttermilk. Beat 3 egg yolks separately and add to first mixture. Melt butter (size of egg) and add. Then add juice of 1 lemon or season to taste. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake 20 minutes at 425 deg. Reduce heat to 325 deg. and bake 20 minutes longer. Add meringue (made from egg whites) and brown.

Icebox Pie Crust:
Mix together 5 c. flour, 1 tsp. salt and 1lb. lard. Beat 1 egg in mixing cup and fill cup with water and add to above mixture. This recipe makes enough crust for 3 – 2 crust pies. Keep unused crust in refrigerator.

Add 1 Tbsp. water to each egg white and beat until they form peaks and add 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar and continue beating until the sugar is dissolved. (This almost doubles the amount of meringue.)
Printed in “What’s Cookin’ In South Bend, Indiana” 1954
  • Recipe used to be written with the mindset that the person reading it would already have some knowledge of cooking, and the fact is, there used to be more knowledge about cooking 50 years ago than there is today. Many people just don’t know how to do it because of all the shortcuts offered nowadays.
  • People also used to cook with lard on a regular basis. Certain Hispanic communities still use lard frequently, but I’ve left it behind for slightly healthier fats. This does change the flavor of many foods, though – so be careful about which choices you make for substitutes. Sometimes Grandma’s pies, cookies or cakes just don’t taste the same now because lard is no longer used as a fat.
In the pie recipe: ‘butter the size of an egg’ is about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Use whichever you like.
‘Season to taste’ for a buttermilk pie can be any extract or flavoring you like – so long as it doesn’t equal more than 2 or 3 Tablespoons of liquid.
‘Add meringue (made from egg whites)’ is the 3 egg whites left after separating the yolks used in the filling.


Adopted Son said...

I miss my Gramma!

Mr. Dave said...

I have recently embraced lard as a viable cooking fat. As we speak I am making a nice quantity of pork belly confit using a couple pounds of lard as the cooking fat. I am trying to come up with a savory Lardy cake recipe for the left over pork infused lard.

Anne Coleman said...

Among others, Big Bro :)

Dave, if anyone can do it - YOU can! I'll be checking :)

Lagean Ellis said...

I, too, miss my Grandma! We have tons of her recipes but they don't taste the same when we make them! We don't have her love, care and "extras".
Are yours that way?

sj said...

I miss my Gramma too... and I loved this post :) That pie really looks delicious!