There it sat in the center of a small plate. There almost wasn’t room for the nicely spaced little touches of whipped topping that surrounded it.
It was a large slice of coconut cream pie with “mile-high” meringue and custard that was a beautiful yellow color. I figured that meant it had an abundance of egg yolks in the recipe.
As our waitress set it in front of me, my stomach was saying “Yeah!” and would have done a happy dance if it could. My hips, on the other hand, would have drooped (think shoulders) if they could, saddened that this treat would likely add a few inches.
But hey, it was pie, and yes, it was tasty.
However, it wasn’t like the coconut cream pie that Mom made. Of course, you’re likely saying to yourself, “Well, duh, are they ever like Mom made?”
I’d have to admit that I haven’t found one yet. And while for some that might be a good thing, my Mom made scrumptious coconut cream and graham cracker cream pies. The only pie that ever came close was like the cream pies made by the late Pat Valentine. He was famous for his pies, which you could get at Valentine’s restaurant, once located across from the DuBois Public Library.
Pat would even take pies to Harrisburg to sweeten up the politicians to try to get improvements approved for Route 219 or Continental 1 as the Route 219 Committee had renamed it. They were trying to get repairs, widening, truck lanes and more on the route, which is a major north-south highway.
Pat would stop in at the Courier Express office to ask for coverage or drop off a news release, but he never passed a woman’s desk without giving a few bars of “And I love you so...” as a serenade.
The few times I met Pat, I pegged him as a gentleman and a gentle soul. I don’t know what he may have been like in his heyday but when I knew him he always seemed to have a smile for everyone and a pleasant word or two to say.
I haven’t thought of Pat in a long time, until that slice of pie. With that dessert set before me my mind immediately thought of the two people who made delicious cream pies – Pat and Mom.
As I pondered making my own cream pies, which I’ve never attempted so far, I found myself straining to remember if Mom did hers from scratch or using a pudding mix that needed to be cooked. The cooking and stirring of the pudding until it thickened I plainly remember. That was often my job when I helped Mom in the kitchen.
I’d stand by the stove and stir, and stir, and stir, and ask Mom if it was thick enough yet. The answer always seemed to be “no, keep stirring.” One had to stir it constantly so that the thickened pudding or custard was caught in time and did not burn. I wonder if Pat had a worker do that chore at the restaurant?
It would seem like the custard/pudding would never thicken and then suddenly it was thicker. So Mom would be telling me to take it off the burner and let it cool a little, not too much.
While I’m not looking forward to doing the stirring and waiting again, I am anxious to try making these pies to see if I can recreate the taste that Mom’s pies had. I’ll likely follow her method for the Graham Cracker cream pie. She actually made a Graham Cracker crust. Pat, on the other hand, used a regular crust but would sprinkle Graham Cracker crumbs in its base before pouring in the custard/pudding.
As Dad has found my Betty Crocker Cookbook, which I had stored in a safe spot and then promptly forgot where that spot was, I am going to see what its recipe for cream pie says. I know Mom would have either gotten her recipe from there or used a cooked pudding so I guess I’ll have to experiment.
Sorry, hips, a girl has to do what a girl has to do.
Besides, “IT’S PIE!”