Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 11
MILL CREEK STORIES
some nostalgia, certainly. When I was growing up, if
you loved someone you made them a pie. If someone
was feeling poorly, you sent over a buttermilk pie because it was supposed to be mild on the stomach and
good for the soul. If they had cause for celebration, you
made a nut pie. Often times, pecans were just too pricey so we substituted peanuts, and it was scrumptious.
If someone had passed away, you took their family a
funeral pie. Funeral pie is a dark raisin double crust
pie, the filling so black it looks like even the pie is in
During the summer months, you'd have lemon meringue pie or peach hand pies. Hand pies are fruit pie
turnovers the size of your palm that were fried, then
rolled in cinnamon sugar while they were still hot.
They were perfect for picnics, fishing trips, and for a
delicious workman's lunch. Grandpa took hand pies
in his lunch box to the barn every day. In the fall, the
hand pies would be made from the bounty of apples
on the farm. There isn't a family gathering in my memory where pies weren't the star of the meal.
Thanksgiving and Christmas guaranteed sweet potato and apple pies would be available for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. I know pumpkin is the more traditional holiday pie, but Grandpa didn't grow pumpkins
because he said they were hungry plants, requiring too
much water and fertilizer for what you got. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, were efficient growers and
held well in the root cellar through the winter.
If I had to pick my most beloved pie, it would definitely be warm cherry pie with vanilla ice cream on
top. I have been known to add a drizzle of hot fudge
sauce to that already decadent combination so it
tasted more like chocolate cherry bon-bons. I know, I
know, I may have some sort of sugar addiction. I probably shouldn't indulge in my cherry pie/hot fudge/ice
cream dessert unless I'm hooked up to an insulin drip
line, but sometimes you've just got to live dangerously.
Coming in a close second as my favorite pie would
be my Grandma Grace's sweet potato pie, which I love
plain or dolloped with whipped cream. You're right,
I am absolutely not a plain pie kind of girl, but the
hominess of this pie is so authentic and comforting
that I can't bear to gussy it up. That would be gilding the lily, and that would detract from the humble
beauty of this pie.
So from my family to yours at this holiday season, I
give you my Grandma Grace's sweet potato pie recipe.
May it fill your heart and tummy with all the cozy love
found in a country kitchen at Christmas.
THE FOLK SCHOOL
Engaging hands and hearts since 1925. Come enjoy making crafts and
good friends on 300 natural, scenic acres in western North Carolina.
JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL
November/December 2017 11