Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch

While Google News feeds Bill news stories about the economy or the international trade market, Google News feeds me stories about Keith Urban, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or breaking news about Dunkin’ Donuts dropping “donuts” from their name. The last one really shook me up. I can handle the news about Princess Charlotte’s misbehavior at royal functions, but no “donuts” in Dunkin’ Donuts? When did donuts become the red-headed stepchild?

All that aside, it was via a Google news feed that I came across an article which provided the quintessential dessert from each state in the Union. I quickly perused the article, noticing that the iconic dessert for Arizona is sopaipillas, which surprised me since I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a sopaipilla in Arizona. Colorado’s, by the way, was Palisade peach pie. Maybe. Lord knows I’ve baked enough of those. And we should thank our lucky stars that it isn’t marijuana brownies.

As I was looking at each state, I noticed that the dessert for Indiana was something called Hoosier Pie. I knew what Hoosier Pie was because Bill’s mom used to make it for her family, and I had the recipe. She didn’t call it Hoosier Pie, despite the fact that she was born and lived in Hobert, Indiana, until adulthood, at which time (following a year or so at Purdue University) she moved to Chicago, where she spent the remainder of her life.

Instead, on the hand-written recipe card, she titled it My Mother’s Cream Pie. I mentioned it one time to Bill as I came across it in my messy pile of recipe cards. He immediately (and happily) said, “Sugar pie!”

This particular pie apparently has a number of names, and Sugar Pie is one of them. It’s also referred to as Hoosier Pie, Sugar Cream Pie, Finger Pie, and Quebec Sugar Cream Pie. While the names are different, the recipe is always basically the same: a cup of sugar, a tablespoon or so of flour and a cup of heavy whipping cream. Mix, put it into an unbaked pastry shell, and bake until it’s bubbling like a pecan pie.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to make Wilma’s Mother’s Cream Pie. Except I changed it up. Now, I will tell you that my brother Dave has strict guidelines about changing a family recipe. For example, if I’m making Mom’s chili and I decide to add cumin to the soup (something Mom’s chili never contained), he maintains that I can no longer refer to it as Mom’s chili.

So I made certain to explain to Bill that while I was making Sugar Pie, I was going to use brown sugar instead of the white sugar called for in Wilma’s Mother’s Cream Pie recipe. Bill allowed as that was fine, not being as strict as my brother.

By the way, the reason it is sometimes referred to as Finger Pie is because traditionally, the Hoosier bakers would line the pie pan with the pastry, and then put in a cup of sugar and a little bit of flour, and mix it with their fingers. They would then add the cream, and oh-so-carefully mix that together with their fingers so as to not add any air to the whipping cream and to prevent damaging the pie crust.

In a million years, I couldn’t envision my always-proper mother-in-law mixing pie ingredients with her fingers. I did, however. And I used brown sugar, because that’s what sounded good……

As I served up the pie, I asked Bill if his mother served it with whipped cream. This man who at this stage in his life would prefer living on sweets instead of bothering with meat and (God forbid) vegetables, looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No to whipped cream. Isn’t it made from sugar and cream?”

Well, yes it is. But given Bill’s family of origin’s penchant for sweets, it wouldn’t have shocked me.

Here is Wilma’s original recipe. Mine was identical except I used brown sugar, and used my fingers to mix the ingredients while in the pie shell….

Wilma’s Mother’s Cream Pie

Ingredients
1 c. sugar
4 T. flour
1 c. cream
1 T. butter

Process
Mix sugar and flour together; stir in cream. Pour into unbaked pie shell and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean.

Recipe Memory Box

As I was going through my mom’s recipe box last week, it occurred to me that today’s young cooks probably seldom use recipe cards and probably don’t own a recipe box. In this day and age of food blogs and cooking web sites and electronic cookbooks, recipe boxes probably went the way of the cookie jar.

I’m not judging. I have recipes stored on the websites of Food Network, Allrecipes, Weight Watchers, and probably others I don’t even remember. And don’t even get me started on Pinterest. But still, it was fun to see those recipe cards in familiar handwriting with notes written on the back and splotches of food all over the cards. I spent considerable time trying to figure out the various handwriting so that I could see from whom a recipe originated.

Many of my mother’s recipes are named after the contributor: Jen’s Party Pork Chops, Beckie’s Wonderful Pie Crust, Leona’s Refrigerator Pickles, Grammie’s Apple Pie. Many of the recipes were copied in one of her grandchildren’s handwriting.

It’s kind of sad that our grandchildren and great grandchildren won’t have the same opportunity to look at our recipes and try to read our handwriting and wonder if we ever actually made the Coquilles St. Jacques recipe that’s in our box. As for handwriting, do kids even learn cursive anymore?

After perusing Mom’s recipe box, I moved to mine, where I found a recipe card from my mother-in-law for “My Mother’s Cream Pie.” She gave me that recipe some 20 years ago, and I have never made the pie. I asked Bill if he remembered the pie. “Candy Pie!” he immediately said, which is what he and his siblings apparently called it. “I didn’t know you had that recipe. Can you make it?”

So I did. As it was baking, I went on the internet to see if anyone had ever heard of a Cream Pie. After some sleuthing, I found what others call Sugar Cream Pie (a sensible name since the recipe basically consists of sugar and cream). It originated in Indiana, which is where my mother-in-law, Wilma, was born and grew up. It all fell into place.

Bill took one bite of the pie, smiled, and said, “Wow, this takes me back to my childhood.”

That’s the way I felt all last week. Food memories.

Wilma’s Mother’s Cream Pie

Ingredients
1 c. sugar
4 T. flour
1 c. cream
1 T. butter

Process
Mix sugar and flour together; stir in cream. Pour into unbaked pie shell and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean.

Nana’s Notes: As I researched the pie, I noticed some people added vanilla and/or sprinkled nutmeg or cinnamon on top before baking. I wanted this to be just like Wilma’s pie, so I didn’t do that. Next time I might add vanilla and a little cinnamon. The pie was sweet and very good. And simple — four ingredients!

Do you have any food memories from your family? Did your mom have a recipe box? Do You?