Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

Before my granny passed away, she had given me over a dozen chocolate pie recipes. One today that I’m sharing with you is a tried and true favorite for when I make chocolate pudding (think, inside part of the pie).

2/3 c. sugar

1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. cocoa powder

Mix those ingredients together. Add 1/4 c. milk to make a paste. Add in three egg yolks. Add additional 1 1/2 c. milk. Bring together over low heat, whisking constantly. Once fully thickened drop in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Enjoy!

***Bonus*** Omit the chocolate and add additional teaspoon of vanilla for vanilla pudding!

Traditions and Recipes

(Birthday girls get birthday pie in the South)

Last night I made some pies for a rehearsal dinner. Every time I make pies now, it reminds me of my granny. She was the pie queen. Every single crust of hers was perfectly thin and flaky. Just enough of the filling would soak in to make it delicious and worth every calorie. Like most Southern cooks, she never measured; she just felt the give the mixture gave to let her know if more milk, sugar, etc. might be needed. It never mattered. They came out just right each time.I wish I had that talent. I, on the other hand, have scoured over a dozen recipes my granny had written down (just for chocolate meringue pie) to try to find one that remotely tastes like my granny’s did. Before she passed away, I had her try some, and she gave me pointers for improving it – let the crust bake for about 90 seconds longer, increase the temperature about 15 degrees. Suggestions like these. About six months before she passed away, she gave me the approval. But, truthfully, I think she said it to be nice. No pie could ever touch hers.

My mother-in-law has always joked that if someone asks for her recipe, she gives it to them with a minor alteration. Maybe a slight measurement change or missing an ingredient that isn’t vital to the dish. She said that way people think, “Hmmm, it just isn’t quite as good as when Jane Smith made it.” However, I truly believe that it never is the same anyway. Recipes keep memories alive. Sometimes that right bite takes us back to our granny’s house, with a window AC unit, open windows in the kitchen that had simple white curtains blowing in the summer breeze, our bare feet on the laminate flooring and the perfect creamy bite of chocolate meringue pie in our month. No earthly mansion could compare to the paradise we experienced in that moment. No need for keeping up with the Joneses, as we had something they never would – a pie made with love from arthritic hands and a beautiful heart.

Although I’m missing my granny a lot lately, I’m so thankful for every memory I had with her and the recipes I get to share with Katherine and Grant. I hope you have plenty of memories like these, as well. If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comment section. Let’s keep the memories alive.

As always, thank you for reading!

 

As Easy As Pie

We inherit many things from generation to generation. Smiles, senses of humor, height, family china, family Bibles, etc. One of my favorite things that’s been passed down to me has little-to-no monetary value, but it is immeasurably valuable to me is family recipes. This past weekend I decided to cook some pies.

Now, in my household, pies are what the world revolves around. True story: When my nearly ninety year old grandmother starts to get full during a meal, she’ll stop eating to make sure she saves enough room for dessert. This sweet lady has, thankfully, never had diabetes or sugar issues. It’s a miracle, too, considering she sweetens even Lucky Charms. I think my body nearly went into a sugar shock once I learned that after I’d already started eating my cereal when I was staying with her once. Clearly, desserts, pies in particular, are important in my family.

In the South, pies are used to convey sorrow, joy and every emotion in between. They are proudly displayed at church pot lucks and are brought to homes to welcome new babies and comfort those who have lost loved ones. As easy as pies may seem to be, hence the saying “as easy as pie,” the immense number of recipes I have inherited for each type of pie seems to say differently, with subtle variations seemingly making big impacts in the results of the pie.

Debates in the pie world include everything from using cornstarch vs. flour to meringue vs. cream. Every family has their own “perfect” recipe for each part of the pie, including the crust, filling and meringue or cream.

As I combed over the many variations of a chocolate meringue pie I had received from my sweet granny, I realized no pie I make will ever be like hers, even if I followed each recipe to the T. She just knows “her” pie. She doesn’t need to measure each ingredient for the crust, because the recipe might warrant change, even by a teaspoon of flour, because of the weather. She cooks by feel and by heart, something I’m slowly learning to do. She’s taught me and given me so much over my life, but I’ve only started to realize how much she’s impacted who I am and my value system. I pray one day I pass on not only her recipes but her essence to my own daughter as we bake pies together.

In fact, a bit of that love is shared each time we bake for each other. It isn’t the ingredients but the time and care that we are putting into food that we give to others when we share our food with them. Not much is more Southern or hospitable than that. As I continue to go over various traditions, I hope you’ll join with me in sharing our food and our love with others.

What is your favorite thing to make for others?

As always, thank you for reading!
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