Today, Jim and I decided to spend the late afternoon relaxing back by the pond. He launched the new raft yesterday and I can’t wait to try it out! In preparation for a relaxing evening, I devised a meal plan.
While Jim was putting up some more garage siding, I kept busy in the kitchen. With basil and beet greens from the garden, I experimented with a pesto recipe using a combination of both leaves for the base. Since I did not have pine nuts or walnuts, cashews became the “nut” of choice. Flexibility when cooking is a good trait! The pesto will be the base for a homemade pizza made with a sourdough crust.
After the pizza crust was set for rising and the pesto made and refrigerated, I scanned the pantry shelves for some dessert ideas. That jar of molasses practically jumped off the shelf into my hands! Shoo-fly Pie it is!
Family gatherings during the holidays always included an insane selection of pies from women who had perfected the art of pie-making. My great-grandmother Mary Dougherty Buffet, who lived to be 98 years old, taught me how to prepare and bake pies. At one point in her life, she was the pie maker for the old Avondale Diner in Avondale, PA. I remember that she insisted on always using Esskay lard. It had to be that brand. Just for fun, I looked it up online and apparently it is still made and produced in Baltimore, MD and available in grocery stores throughout the mid-Atlantic. I used to follow her pie crust recipe precisely. But, as I gained confidence in my baking skills over the years, I’ve adapted the ingredients and now use a recipe unique to me. I choose not to use lard anymore and have substituted milk for the water. I must say that I do make a pretty mean pie crust! 🙂
At some point, I inherited an old, thin paperback cookbook called The Dutch Cookbook. It contains the recipe for Shoo-fly Pie that I use and have adapted over the years. My infatuation with Shoo-fly Pie started with the Sunday afternoon road trips I was invited to share with my grandparents. My grandfather loved to travel the countryside in his big old Pontiac with my grandmother aboard. I remember Pontiacs were his automobile of choice and he purchased them exclusively from McCord’s Pontiac Auto Sales in Kennett Square, PA. He was certainly loyal to that dealership!
Many of those long-ago road trips were to neighboring Lancaster County and I was privileged to be able to tag along on many occasions. I have such fond memories of riding along in the back seat of that enormous Pontiac gazing out at the landscape – totally content to be the main focus of my grandparents attention. They had a way of making me feel very special. Each road trip was designed with a restaurant destination in mind. My grandmother loved to eat out. Our lunch spots were usually diner-type establishments. I recall the Conowingo Diner as a favorite port of call. After some type of sandwich, my dessert choice would always be a piece of shoo-fly pie – heated up and often with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I still have a vivid memory of one occasion sitting in the Bird-In-Hand Diner in Intercourse, PA with a luscious piece of real Pennsylvania Dutch shoo-fly pie at my disposal!
It was inevitable that I would learn how to make my own shoo-fly pie. I think it’s a family favorite to this day.