02 May 2011

Family recipe Monday: spring pies

Rustle of spring, 60 mph

It's been two weeks: two really hectic weeks involving 1500 miles of driving from here to Fossil Butte, Wyoming, and back. Since it was late April, we had typical lovely prairie spring weather: snow, wind, sun, more snow, more wind, hail, sun, and still more wind. I looked like Beethoven's surly sister and discovered several new and delightful respiratory allergies....but it was worth it. Details will follow as soon as I get the tumbleweeds combed out.
And what a strange and difficult two weeks it has been on the national and international scenes. It seems that we have all had more than our share of losses, disasters and sadness this year. But every year I trace in the family genealogy project has its sad spots. I think that we need to look forward, plant seeds, and move into the sunlight. It's here. The freeze appears to be over and everything is green.

Sturdy warm food does not seem as appealing now as cool light treats. Here are a few great warm-weather pies from the files.

Maud Bowen’s avocado pie

This came from a family in Sedona, Arizona. As a teenager, I visited great-aunt Blanche there in 1971, but needed something to do while Blanche played bridge. All day. Every day. Maud and her family knew all the places to see the area at its best. I would still rather hike than play bridge, any old day. When the family drove out to pick me up, Vada got this unusual and surprisingly good recipe. Only in Arizona...

1 3-oz pkg. lime or lemon-lime Jell-O
¼ tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple
1 T lime juice (or more)
1 avocado, peeled and halved
1 3-oz pkg. cream cheese
1 cup whipped cream (optional)
1 9” graham cracker crust

Dissolve Jell-O and salt in boiling water. Drain pineapple. Combine the syrup with lime juice and add cold water to make ¾ cup. Add to gelatin. Chill until very thick. Meanwhile dice half of the avocado. Mash remaining half and blend with cream cheese until creamy. Fold cheese mixture, diced avocado, pineapple, and whipped cream into Jell-O. Fill crust. Chill. If desired, garnish with pineapple or lime slices, or top with whipped cream.
--Maud Bowen

This next one is different in combining a custard preparation with Jell-O. Totally 1950s. I don't recall that there were ever any leftovers, though.

Pineapple and banana pie

Mix ½ pkg. orange and 1 cup pineapple juice. Separately, mix 1 beaten egg and ½ cup sugar. Bring to boil and cool. Mix with Jell-O. Add drained crushed pineapple. Slice bananas into a baked pie shell and cover with the mixture. Chill and top with whipped cream.

I actually looked into the word "chiffon" as applied to pie fillings, since etymologically it refers to silk fabric, and not all of the recipes I have make a smooth filling. All I could find was that "chiffon" shows up in reference to pastries by 1929, though the term for fabrics is several hundred years older. Which is no help. This is a nice icebox pie, though. "Tall can of milk" is 16 ounces or 2 cups of evaporated milk, chilled. I had to work to figure that one out.

Heavenly chiffon pie

1 pkg. strawberry Jell-O
1 #2 can crushed pineapple
1 tall can milk
1 cup sugar

Put pineapple in saucepan, add sugar and cook 3 or 4 minutes after it starts boiling. Remove from fire and add Jell-O. Whip milk which has been in icebox overnight. Beat until consistency of whipped cream. Add custard mix and pour in baked pie shell. Let set in refrigerator.
--Vada Brooks Johnson

Happy Monday, what is left of it. Celebrate spring as if it's the first one ever.

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