By: Virginia R. Manuel
Saturday afternoons would find my grandmother in the kitchen baking pies for Sunday dinner. She would go to the mealbox, grab her dough board, get out the flour, the rolling pin and a bowl she had stored in there. She would reach into the lard can for some lard and in no time flat she would have six or eight pie crusts ready for filling. Depending on the number of eggs she had or the type of fruit on hand would determine what kind of pies she would make.
In the spring it was always rhubarb pie, summertime we would have fresh peach or blackberry pie, and in the fall we could depend on apple or pumpkin. Along with fruit pies she always made lemon, chocolate, coconut or butterscotch. In the wintertime she would go to the cellar and we would have pies from fruit she had prepared in the summer.
She always had on hand lemon and coconut pie filling and dessert mix which she bought from the Rawleigh man. He was a traveling salesman who came around about once a month peddling a variety of Rawleigh products. She also bought liniment (both kinds), medicated ointment, vanilla, pie filling, and other products from him.
Along with a half dozen pies she might make a cake or two. She never needed to use a recipe because she had all those stored in her head. Most times we would get chocolate or yellow cake but when we were expecting company, she would make us an old-fashioned stack cake using apple butter as a filling between the six or seven flat cake layers. A lot of versions of stack cake recipes are still used today. Some families declare a stack cake making day and use that day as a family get together day for fellowshipping and fun and carrying on a tradition started by their forefathers.
One of my favorite recipes I dug from an old box of recipes is for an Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie so when you have a hankering for a pie like Grandma made you might want to try it.
Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup sugar
π cup cornstarch
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of unsweetened baking cocoa
2 cups whole milk (In this recipe you can use 12 oz can of Carnation evaporated milk with enough water added to make 2 cups)
3 eggs, separated, reserve egg whites for meringue
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
3 reserved egg whites
Dash of cream of tarter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Prick the bottom and sides of your pie crust and bake until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling. Mix the sugar, cornstarch and cocoa together in a medium size pot. Add the 2 cups evaporated milk or whole milk. If using evaporated milk I use a 12 oz can, measure one cup evaporated milk, add to the pot and then measure one more cup evaporated milk. You will be a bit short, it comes to more like 3/4 cup so fill the rest of the measuring cup with water to make a cup. Using a wire whisk blend together and stir constantly over medium high heat. When the mixture is heated through add the 3 egg yolks. You will need to temper your egg yolks so add a bit of the pudding mixture to the egg yolks and blend before adding to the pudding mix. (You don't want scrambled eggs). Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and the butter. Let pudding mixture cool while you prepare the meringue topping.
Mix the 3 egg whites with a dash of cream of tarter along with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Whip the egg whites till stiff and soft peaks form. Add pudding to cooled pie shell and top with meringue making sure the meringue touches the sides of the pie crust to prevent shrinking.
Broil till lightly golden brown on top.