Monday, June 24, 2013

This is really good pie, y'all


So my sister makes this great chocolate chess pie.  She's a good sharer, so the sunny girl and I know how to make it now, too.

One question that I have not really found a satisfactory answer to is, "Chocolate chess pie?  WTF?"
Here's what Linda Stradley, of the website What's Cooking America, says about the origin of the name:
Chess pies are a Southern specialty; they have a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter, and perhaps a small amount of flour. Some recipes include cornmeal and others are made with vinegar. Flavorings, such as vanilla, lemon juice, or chocolate are also added to vary the basic recipe. [ . . . ] The origin of the name is uncertain, but there are plenty of guesses and a bit of folklore surrounding the name. One explanation suggests that the word is “chest,” pronounced with a drawl and used to describe these pies baked with so much sugar they could be stored in a pie chest rather than refrigerated. Another [probably untrue] story is about the plantation cook who was asked what she was baking that smelled so great - “Jes’ pie” was her answer. Some people theorize that since the English lemon curd pie filling is very close to lemon chess pie, and they believe the word “chess” is an Americanization of the English word “cheese,” referring to curd pie.
So, yeah.  Linda Stradley doesn't really know, either.

Anyway -- here's how you make it:

The ingredient list for the filling is pretty simple:  sugar, eggs, butter, evaporated milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  You see in my photo that I use a ready-to-bake pie crust.  If you make fabulous pie crust that everyone drools over, then by all means -- knock yourself out.  Anyone who might have an expectation that I am the kind of person who makes her own pie crust has not been paying attention.

The preparation of the filling is pretty darned simple, too.  Just put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix at high speed for about two minutes.

Pour the filling into the waiting pie crust.


Crimp the edges of the crust in a way that suits your fancy.  My friend Saskia can make a pie crust edge look like it's been braided or something.

I cannot.

You don't pre-bake the crust, or prick it with a fork, or say any magic words over it.

Well, OK.  If you want to say some magic words -- again, knock yourself out.

I use a pie ring to protect the edges of my pie crust from getting overcooked.  My pie ring makes me feel like I am a real cook, even though I'm really a total poseur.  Don't tell anyone.

If you are worried that your crust will get overdone, you can protect it by wrapping aluminum . . . aluminium?  You can just wrap some tin foil around your pie plate.

After you bake it it will look like this, and it will make your whole house smell like a chocolate factory.


The sunny girl made some whipped cream for us to have with our pie.  You'll have to get that recipe from her.

+ + + + +

Here's the nitty-gritty:



Unbaked pie crust (bottom only) 
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl for two-ish minutes, and pour them into the unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 50 minutes.  The pie is done when it looks "set" like a souffle.  You can serve it plain, or with whipped cream, or with Cool Whip, or with ice cream, or . . . .

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cause and effect

Once upon a time I had hostas in all of my flower beds.  They're the perfect plant for me to cultivate because the work involved goes like this:
ME:  Hmmm -- looks like the hostas are thriving all on their own for yet another summer.  Well.  Time for more coffee!

But for whatever reason, just in the past couple of years the deer have really taken a liking to the delicious, salad-like goodness of the hostas that are planted all over my yard -- along with any other delicious garden treats they can lay their delicate muzzles on.  This little lady has just bitten the tops off of all the remaining daylilies in my side bed (a palate cleanser), and now she is preparing to jump the neighbors' fence.  Their squash and zucchini blossoms look so tasty!  So --

-- this is what my hostas look like now.  Not quite the desired effect, is it?

 Looks like someone just discovered the (up until now) pristine plant at the base of the mailbox.  The blossoms are now history; any bets as to how much longer those leaves will last?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Talk about an apple for the teacher!

Well, so the end of the school year has finally arrived, and the sunny girl wanted to thank some of her teachers.    But apples are so twentieth century . . .

. . . so the sunny girl whipped up these cute little mini-pies.  

Don't you wish you were the sunny girl's teacher?!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My best friends know me best . . . .

So not once but twice this year, I have received gifts that were so thoughtful and loving that they made me cry.

During our visit to Rehoboth Beach last October, my college pals gave me this set of Coca-Cola glasses (over the outraged protestations of their urchins, who apparently grew up thinking that the four glasses would be part of their inheritance).

Note all those freaking Jewel Tea dishes . . .

For four years, these friends attended classes with me and hung out at parties with me and ate meals with me -- and they never saw me without a can of Coke in my hand.  And they have good memories.

And then just last month, this one gave me the most loving and lovely gift -- just because!

We were in a restaurant (OK, we were sitting at a bar) when she gave this six-pack of Cokes to me, and I got so teary-eyed I had to ask for an extra napkin.

Do you see what she did?  She attached a message to each bottle of Coke, explaining why she and I will always be best friends.  This six-pack is a keeper, y'all.

And by the way, I really would like to teach the world to sing . . . .