I was asked to head up a small-interest group for our ward on cooking. Over the period of a year, we are having a nightly cooking night and a theme for that night. The premise is that each person attending will bring something under that topic for the month however they interpret that topic.
This month was pie.
I have many fond memories of pies. I remember staying up late the night before Thanksgiving with my mom making pies and having them set on the dining room table all waiting to be devoured the next day. We spent time trying to figure out how many of each pie to make and who was doing what. We made real chocolate cream pies and banana cream pies. NEVER that packaged stuff. I am a cream pie snob to this day. My mom made me. I totally blame her (and if you have never had a REAL cream pie, you should. You will become a snob too). One Thanksgiving my aunt Lisa and I took an entire pumpkin pie and sneaked into a closet and ate the entire thing, just the two of us. The first Thanksgiving Jeremy and I were married and I had not yet learned how to juggle, I was making pumpkin pie and dinner all at the same time. I splashed Raspberry Ice Crystal Light into my pumpkin mixture...and then green bean juice. Our eyes got all big and I almost cried. My husband tasted it with his finger and said it tasted fine. We cooked it up anyways and took it to dinner. Neither of us ate that pie. Sorry family. All of my secrets are out. Each summer we would pick rhubarb from our back garden and watch as my mom sugared it and mixed it with strawberries and we had fresh pie for Sunday dinners.
I have a history with pies.
I swear that I was meant to be in another time and place. I have a love for Southern cooking. Pecan pie is my ultimate favorite dessert. I love that crusty, salty top and the caramel custard goodness underneath. I will have you know, I even baked this while wearing a skirt...on a Tuesday. I love skirts. I remember in high school I would wear a skirt just because I felt like it and all day I was being asked why I dressed up. I slowly stopped wearing skirts to school. Sad, huh? Life is different now. I wear skirts 2-3 times a week and I simply don't care. But I digress.
I rounded up my always-wanting-to-help-in-the-kitchen helper. We washed up and away we went.
I, ah-hem, MADE my pie crust (giggle). Okay, maybe I am not THAT domestic. I chose to believe that pie crust and chicken and roast all come packaged in nice little containers at the grocery store. Not from real chickens, cows or from scratch.
I may not be able to make my own pie crust, but I can flute the edge.
I flute a mean edge, if I do say so myself.
When I make pecan pie, I have to toast the pecans. I am not a fan of the raw taste of nuts. To me this gives it a deeper flavor.
While the pecans are toasting, let the helper do her job and stir. There is a lot of stirring involved in pecan pie.
Start again and then dump the pecans in the bottom of the crust. Then that concoction that your helper was making? Dump that in as well. Purists would say to "gently place the pecan halves on the bottom and being careful not to disturb the pecans, pour the custard in." Phooey! I use chopped pecans because I like pecans in every bite and I am the opposite of fussy so I just dump the pecans in the bottom, spread them out and then dump the custard in a swirl around the pan. They float up and are nice and even that way.
I am SO not a purist.
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan halves (I use chopped)
Prepare your pie crust with your choice of decorative edge, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl with a wire whisk or hand beater, beat eggs well. Beat in corn syrup, sugar, butter or margarine and vanilla until well blended. Arrange pecan halves in a single layer in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour egg mixture over the pecans in the pie crust being careful not to disturb the nuts if using pecan halves, it does not matter if you are using chopped. Bake pie one hour or until knife inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean. Cool.