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Remember the saying about Ginger Rogers?  “She did everything Fred did, only backwards and in heels.”  Well, my mother did all the things Southern Indiana housewives did in the ‘50’s except she wore a corset (yep, the ole iron maiden) and stockings in the sultry, river basin heat with NO air conditioning. All garbed up, she put a hot meal on the table every night for the five of us, including a homemade dessert.  ETA:  5 pm or 5:30 at the latest.


The dessert of choice was usually a homemade pie, which brings us to the topic. I LOVED her pies.  During the warm months, they were usually made of whatever fruit was in season. My favorites were the Cherry Pies, made with the fruit I picked from the Flory’s tree across the alley. On his 16th birthday, my brother asked my mom to make Cherry Pie instead of a cake.  For once in his life, he said, he’d like to eat all the Cherry Pie he wanted. It took a pie and a half for the kid to call “uncle.” 

In the winter months, we ate cream pies most of the time:  Lemon, Coconut, Chocolate or Butterscotch.    Their tops looked like little oceans, with whitecaps turned perfectly brown. 

At that time, pie baking was much faster than cake baking.  As a test, my mother once timed herself.  From the time she laid out the ingredients for the crust and the filling till the time she slid it into the oven, 13 minutes had elapsed.  This for a two-crust pie with hand-crimped edges! She’d roll out a Johnny Cake for me with any unused dough, dot it with butter and sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon before sliding it into the oven.   

My friends sometimes ask why I don’t order pie in restaurants, since they know I love it. My answer:  it’s just not the same. When you grew up eating fresh homemade pies, that stuff they sell in restaurants is usually like eating a siding plank topped with filling the consistency of LePage’s glue.     

I sometimes think of Paul Newman’s remark, when he was alive, about marital fidelity.  He said, “Why go out for hamburger when you can have steak at home?”  I couldn’t have said it better, Paul.


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