This is a recipe from my mother-in-law, Dorothy Portwood Wilson, and it’s another one of those I’m adding to my fascination with food anthropology. You can tell a lot from a recipe, reading between the lines. This one, for instance. It’s a fine recipe for those who enjoy pecan pie, but have tree nut allergies, or those who lack the teeth to chew nuts… or those who can’t afford the (relative) expense of nuts. There are a number of recipes like this I’ve found, food that was born of necessity rather than desire. Which is not to say it is inferior – a great deal of French cuisine, for instance, was born of making do and doing without, and this like that is fine eating in spite of the inexpensive ingredients. Besides which, the husband and kids will eat it all up, where at least one kid will eschew pecans in pie. Or anything. Doesn’t matter which kid – that changes up on a regular basis.
Start out with an unbaked pie shell. I favor my lard crust recipe for this. The following recipe makes two pie shells, because I always make two, or one and some decorative bits and bobs for a pretty pie.
- 2 c white flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 c lard
- Ice Water (about 1/2 cup)
Mix the salt into the flour. Cut the lard in with a pastry blender, or rub it into the flour until it is in pea-sized pieces. You don’t need to get it all blended smoothly. Mix in, a tablespoonful or so at a time, enough ice water to form a ball of dough – not too stiff, not too loose. A little softer than playdough is a good estimate. Cut the dough into two roughly equal halves. Roll the dough out and drape into a 9″ regular depth pie plate and trim or shape edges as desired.
Mock Pecan Filling
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2/3 c sugar
- 2/3 c butter (melted after measuring)
- 2/3 c white corn syrup
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 c oatmeal, uncooked
Mixed and pour into unbaked shell. Bake one hour at 350.
Dorothy-Mom also calls this Oatmeal Pie, which is a fair description. It’s an easy pie to mix up, and was the most popular at my Thanksgiving this year, followed very closely by a from-scratch pumpkin pie. I’m definitely going to be making it again and again, and carrying on the long traditions of food we make because it’s good. No pretensions, just yum.
Also, I see a lot of gorgeous pie crust art floating around on the internet, and being me, I wonder two things: How does that work when baked? Because you usually see it in raw state. And how can I make that work on a practical level. Well! I made pretty pies this year. I don’t usually bother with more than pinch-fluting the edges, because it’s more about taste than pretty. Still, sometimes I do like to get artistic. So I took a spare pie crust (I made three single-crust pies, but two batches of the above lard crust recipe) and cut it out with various cookie cutters, including a little leaf press shape. I put the cut-out designs on a cookie sheet, on a silicone baking mat, and brushed them with milk, before sprinkling on a little sugar for sparkle. I parbaked these at 350 for about 15 min, until they were just barely done with no real color showing yet. I then used them on the pies as they were baking – with the Mock Pecan I decorated it about 10 min before it was finished. With the pumpkin, I put them on just as it was starting to set (about 20 min before the end of bake time) and the cranberry I did about the same time. They were a big success, I think! Easy, and looked good.