Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Little Pie.

       Thanksgiving is the best time of the year to roll out the pies. A few years back, I used to make about 6 pies, my neighbor's husband was in Iraq, and I felt bad that she had to spend Thanksgiving without her sweetheart, so I had my husband truck over an apple pie. My other neighbors used to give me Gilfeather turnips and I returned the favor with a pie, and still another couple who were on a fixed budget, I sent a pie. There is something so cathartic about giving.
    Pies differ from area to area, I don't go to Oklahoma for a authentic Key Lime Pie, or to California for a Michigan Cherry Pie.  My parents live in Maine and that is the farthest north you can get on the east coast. Maine is synonymous with blueberries. When I go to Maine, I want blueberry pie packed thick with tart Wild Maine blueberries, and for unexplained reasons the crunchy breakfast cereal Grape-Nuts has made it's way into pie from Presque Isle to Kennebunkport. Traveling south the Apple pie begins to make its debut. Vermont, New Hampshire and New York are prime growing areas for apples. Apple pie can be double crusted or Crumb, which is my favorite. 
     As we travel into Amish/ Pennsylvania Dutch country the Shoo-Fly pie is common. It is a mixture of molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter, some pies are considered wet-bottomed meaning there is a sweet filling and then a crumb topping, or dry-bottom the crumb topping is folded into the filling. The unique thing about this pie is that all ingredients can keep without refrigeration. The name came about by the bakers having to shoo the flies away, because the flies were attracted to the sugar.
     As we cross the Mississippi River, heading south into Virginia, pie makers compete for the best Sweet potato pie, yams or sweet potatoes were cultivated in the area since the 1600's.  The sweet potato is treated much in the same fashion as the pumpkin pie resulting in a silky spicy custard. Moving a little west we enter the Volunteer state where soul food like egg custard pies and buttermilk pies are popular, motoring into the Music City, Nashville has taken the custard pie a step further by adding sweet toasted coconut. The difference is they make a rich pastry cream on the stove, instead of baking the custard in the oven. Folding it with copious amounts of coconut and decadent whipped cream.
     Georgia is known for their peaches, and what better way to celebrate Georgia than having a piece of peach pie, what is also surprising is that Georgia is one of the top manufacturers of pecans and pecan pie. The pride of Atlanta, Georgia is Lemon icebox pie, which is the northern cousin of Key lime Pie from Key West, Florida. It is made with lemon juice, eggs and condensed milk.  We round out our Eastern seaboard pie quest with, of course Key Lime Pie. The key lime arrived in the Keys with the Spanish in the 1500's, and was described as a confused lemon. Having features of both the lemon and the lime. Surprisingly hurricanes wiped out all traces of the actual key lime. You now, must know someone who knows someone to get an authentic key lime.
     In the Midwest, the area still has shadows of their resourcefulness. Settlers developed the land with fruit trees and Yankee ingredients were in short supply. In Michigan they have tart Michigan cherries, made into delicious to die for cherry pies. Pies used less flour than bread and cakes, and could be cooked in fireplaces. Hoosier pie or Indian sugar cream pie was a very simple dessert consisting only of cream sugar and flour. Persimmons and paw paws are made into pies in the Midwest.  Persimmons are an unusual fruit in that they ripen towards the end of the fall, and have a pumpkin apricot flavor, is cooked in the same way as a pumpkin. Paw Paws were important to the native Indians and take experience to work with them. They are cross between banana, pineapple and mango and are used in custards. Honorable mention is the Bean pie created in Chicago, made with navy beans.
     Pies that have no home or an area to call their own, are pies that are made all over the United States and each state can trace the history of such a pie. Pumpkin pie it is said to have been created near Plymouth plantation, however the pie has made its rounds all over the U.S. Lemon Meringue pie, is said to have originated in the South, however lemons are known to grow out west. Pecans lay claim to Georgia, but Texas might dispute that.  Washington might be a little upset about the origin of the Cherry Pie, but I am sure Michigan will debate it. The grand daddy of the pie debate hands down has to be the Apple pie. Apples grow all over the United States, and every pie aficionado from California to Maine claim the best apple pie. It is up for debate! The important thing is that Pie was created. The pie that I am going to share is a blend of pies that I have created in my life.  I love pie crust, however I love the cookie crumb crust better.

Chunky Monkey Pie

1Keebler Ready Crust Chocolate Pie Crust
8 ozs melted semi-sweet chocolate
2 teaspoons Crisco
3 large ripe bananas
12 ozs softened cream cheese
4 ozs toasted chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 banana cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 tablespoon banana liqueur
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 oz of butter

In a sauce pan combine the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and cook until the sugar dissolves, stir in the banana liqueur, add the banana and cook until the banana softens and browns slightly, carefully add the rum, and tip the saucepan until the rum ignites. When the flames die down, remove the bananas and cool completely. Take your ready made crust and melt only 6 ozs of the 8 ozs of semi-sweet chocolate and spread over the ready made shell and cool. Take your remaining banana, slice and layer over the chocolate painted shell. In a mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and marshmallow cream mix on high until fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, vanilla and banana extract and mix well. Fold in the whipped heavy cream and completely cooled banana mixture. Spoon into the chocolate pie shell. Melt the remaining 2 ozs of semi-sweet chocolate with the 2 tsps of Crisco in the microwave at 10 second intervals until mixable. Garnish the pie with the melted chocolate and refrigerate. Cut and enjoy.

Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate.~Sandra Boynton


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