There were a couple of comments about the sweet potato pie. The exact recipe? By now, I have forgotten. What I remember is the creamy, comforting richness.
Disclaimer: you try this at your own risk.
Mom would cook the sweet potatoes, add a pinch of salt, then mash them until not a lump could be found. She added the other ingredients one at a time. When I was a child, we did not have electric mixers. We used those hand held rotary beaters to create those stiff peaks from egg whites and cream.We developed strong arms from using those beaters.
So, we’d beat the whole eggs. Was it two or three? We’d add them to the potatoes; then, we’d add about a stick of butter. Mind you, there were a lot of sweet potatoes. Mix ’til smooth. Now comes the cream. I call it cream because that was when real milk came with cream settled on the top. Shake the bottle (yes, milk came in bottles). It was better than half and half.
Whatever happened to milk bottles? True, they were heavy; but you could see the cream gathered on top of the milk like a thick icing. And there was no concern about the landfill. Bottles went back to the dairy and were sterilized and refilled.
The milk/cream was added and then the brown sugar and — corn syrup? To tell you the truth, I can’t remember. But, I’ll tell you this: it was sweet.
By now, our mouths were drooling over the pudding like consistency. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Vanilla. Am I missing something?
We children were such pigs. We’d stick our fingers in the bowls and get chased away. “Get your dirty hands out of here!” It didn’t matter what kind of pie. Peach. Blueberry. Apple. Pear. Hovering like humming birds and annoying as ants, we’d taste and get chased away.
Now when it comes to the crust, you’re on your own. That’s because when I was growing up, we used lard. For me, that’s not an option anymore. So once you have made your crust — and it will probably be two or three — fill the pie plates with yummy stuff.
And that’s it. A chilly autumn evening or bright summer afternoon becomes more than alive…
All times are better with pie. On days like today, as we anticipate hurricane Sandy, and I begin to understand the importance of patience in the healing process, pie is a gift and a sweet comfort. Baking pie takes patience; savoring pie takes time.