I was blessed with a family of great and merry women, who were kind enough to live into their 90s (one to 105!) so I could enjoy their wisdom, laughter and strength for much of my life… and also learn how to make great pies!
I know we can’t recreate the best of our past very often, but a few very visceral treasures manage to stand the test of time. These days, when so much of what we eat tastes (and is!) synthetic or adulterated, and so much of it must be eaten on the run… what fun it is to revel in the luxury of time and pure natural ingredients with which to create culinary delights that make store-boughten goodies seem absurd by comparison. So in tribute to the great cooks of my childhood, and to all the little children of the world who learn in their Mothers’ and Grandmothers’ and Aunties’ kitchens that food prepared with love and laughter is the most nourishing food of all, I offer two simple recipes that can hold an astonishing amount of both these most precious ingredients.
My Aunt’s Perfect Blueberry Pie
- 3 cups sifted flour 1 egg beaten
- 1 tsp baking powder 5 Tablespoons water
- 1 tsp salt 1 Tablespoon vinegar
- 1-1/3 cups shortening
Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ones. Mix together. Refrigerate dough 15 minutes. Very easy dough to handle. Bake at 400° or more.
- 5 cups blueberries (works fine for other fruits, too – just pile the fruit up as high as you can without spilling)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Sprinkle of nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons tapioca
- 5 pats of butter
Mix and set for 15 minutes.
Fill bottom crust only after baking 7 minutes, so bottom isn’t soggy.
Distribute 5 pats of butter under the top crust before crimping the edges.
Slit top crust for steam. Bake at 475° for 15 min.
Then at 400° until golden, about 35 minutes altogether (may be more for apples)
Cathy’s Maine Muffins
(This didn’t come from my aunt’s collection, but it did contribute to a happy childhood!)
- 2 cups Bisquick
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups blueberries (dredge in flour first)
I double all ingredients to make a batch and often add ½ cup more fruit
Dredge blueberries in flour, so they won’t sink to the bottom of the muffin cups. Combine dry ingredients, then add beaten egg and milk, and mix with dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries (I use a lot!) butter muffin tins and fill each cup 2/3 full. Sprinkle with granular sugar to make them pretty, if you wish, and bake at preheated 400% oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned, puffy and done thru (I use the old broom trick if I can find a real broom that isn’t synthetic, plucking a clean piece of straw from it and sticking it into the middle…if it comes out clean, you’re done to perfection) others use a knife for testing.
Lots of butter and jam comes next, but that’s all up to you!
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011