Recovering lost treasures

3 Feb

Everyone has one. The cookbook their mother or grandmother eventually memorized the recipes in. The recipies for your favorite comfort food or most treasured holiday tradition.

This was my mother’s.  It was published in 1942 and I think I remember her telling me she got it when she left home to get married at 18 in 1955.

This weekend while visiting Doylestown I decided to let our taste buds talk over old times and make a Graham Cracker Cream Pie, a family favorite. So I pulled out the old cookbook and looked up the recipe.

No Graham Cracker Cream Pie, but I found Cream Pie. I wonder where my mother learned to put it in a Graham Cracker Crust. I have to assume home, growing up, because I’ve had the pie at Dick’s Diner in Murrysville (where my parents went when they were dating).

Armed with the recipe I set out to reacquaint us with this old favorite.

I premade the crust…

Followed by custard on top of a double boiler.  I know my mother didn’t use a double boiler, but I went ahead and followed the recipe.

My daughter whipped the whites into meringue and we added the yolks to the finished custard. Then we poured the custard into the shell, spread on the meringue and baked it.

Then comes the hardest part…waiting for dinner, and dinner to be over to EAT IT! My dad’s Girlfriend was still eating when he got up to cut the pie.

He is clearly as excited as I am about this.

Not pretty, but delicious!

If you’ve never had a Graham Cracker Cream Pie, get thee to Dick’s Diner in Murrysville and get a piece NOW.  (In fact I’d say if you are looking for diner food in general, Dick’s worth a trip.)

The crust is salty, sweet, and crunchy which is a beautiful base for the luscious creamy custard.  I thought this recipe had to much sugar in it and will reduce it next time. Regardless this is a good old fashioned custard where the flavor of the milk* is not hidden, the vanilla is pure, and the texture is more creamy than glutenous (like commercial cook and serve pudding.)

The meringue at Dick’s is piled several inches on top of the pie as it should be. Even doubling the white to yolk ration in this pie I didn’t have nearly enough meringue.  It should be a moist, fluffly cloud mountain, not the sad thin little layer I had, which, though delicious, was jut not enough.

Regardless of too much sugar and not enough meringue the Pie did not disappoint.  Close enough to what my mother made it brought back warm memories and earned itself once again a top spot on my dessert roster. Sometimes plain old fashioned pie really is perfect.

The Recipe:

*I actually hate milk as a drink, but I really love the flavor of cooked milk in things like custard, hot coco, milk on toast (another strange old country tradition).


3 Responses to “Recovering lost treasures”

  1. mike February 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Dick’s Diner…haven’t thought of that place in a couple years. I first went there with my dad and sister when I was maybe 7 or 8 and we were on our way back from a Pitt/PSU game in State College. Coldest I’ve ever been, but the most vivid memory of that day was a stop at Dick’s for chocolate meringue pie. Delicious stuff.

    We stopped there occasionally when I was a student at Penn State. Now I need to get back up there to try their cream pie. My 5-year-old is obsessed with custard pie and diners so she’ll be all over that.

    • Jennifer England February 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      I was there this fall with my cousins before our Uncle’s funeral. We had our pie before dinner. I felt like a naughty child, but it was the perfect thing for the day. They have a lot of custard pies, she’ll love it!


  1. Peasant food « Einstein's Desk - February 23, 2011

    […] PIE!  I finally got to Dick’s Diner to Pick up a whole pie. […]

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