Egg Custard Pie…

9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57On Southern Dessert Tables, Egg Custard Pie is a Classic.  Custards were brought to the Colonies by the British and remained popular in the South, especially when boiled or baked in small custard dishes- From fancy Crème Brule to humble Banana Puddings- we do love our custards! When times were hard and cooking was done to survive- Egg Custards were thought to be comforting and necessary.  Filled with eggs and milk, ingredients on hand in most southern kitchens, Egg Custard Pies are rich but not overly sweet.  Some even thought, the sick and recovering should be fed Custards – to fatten them up! Leave it to the Southern Sweet Tooth to make a Dessert out of a Comfort Food! Some custards are cooked then poured into a baked pie shell. Cooked Custards may Scorch. Filling an unbaked pie shell with the custard mix- is a bit easier.  Custards aren’t hard to make, but then again…

  • An Overbaked Egg Custard Pie?  A telltale crack in the center.
  • Under-baked Custard? Too thin and wouldn’t set up. CF494A8D-61DE-4815-A268-94E1AD22EEF2

A Southern lady’s baking  skill was tested by her Custard Pies! Egg Custard Pies aren’t made that often any more- but we still have fond memories! I can hear it now…

‘Florigene could charm a bird out of tree just being who she was- but when she baked her Custard Pies- a whole flock of folks came around’

My mother in law, Eleanor, was famous for her Custard Pies- Coconut, Egg  and Chocolate Custard Pies. I wish I had kept count of how many times someone told her how much they loved her Egg Custard Pie- so Eleanor would surprise them with one! Quietly serving the pies to her family- I’m not sure we always appreciated her skill. Custard Pies seemed to be a favorite of hers. When she died, over and over folks whispered, ‘I loved Eleanor’s Custard Pies…’ More than a decade has passed since she crossed over from this life to the next, yet those pies are still remembered fondly. Recently, I had not one, but two friends exclaim over the virtues of  Egg Custard Pies- yet neither could recall when they had last eaten a homemade one. 

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As the holidays approach, I think of my mother in law so often. Before, it seemed like stepping on sacred ground- to try to bake Egg Custard Pie. In fact, I would not even try to replicate her famous pie. The recipe I used is not hers- I don’t have it. I researched old cookbooks and found several that seemed close- my adaptation makes two pies- one to keep and one to share. And I changed it up to be more like a deep dish pie, by using a cake pan instead of the more shallow pie plate. The ingredients are always the same- it’s the method and the measure that differs from recipe to recipe. Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla poured into an unbaked Pie Shell and baked, then chilled. Here’s what I came up with-

Camellia’s Cottage Egg Custard Pie 

  • Preheat oven to 375º
  • Line Two 8 or 9 inch Cake Pans with your favorite pie crusts.
  • In a mixing bowl, measure 2 cups of Sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 Tablespoon- All Purpose Flour and 3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg.
  • In another larger bowl, whisk 6 Large Eggs, beating until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to whisked eggs, mixing until well combined.
  • To egg mixture, add  2 cans of Evaporated Milk (not sweetened condensed) plus 1 cup of whole milk.
  • Then add  1 tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract and mix until all is combined well.  *The purists insist on straining this mixture- I didn’t. 647AFB91-AA01-4E1B-8C1E-7EA5147A6492
  • I poured portions of the mixture into a glass pitcher for ease of pouring the egg custard mixture into the Two Unbaked Pie Shells.
  • Grate more Nutmeg over the top of the Pie Filling.  *If pans are full- place them on a large sheet pan for baking.
  • Bake Egg Custard Pies for one hour- checking after 45 minutes to see if Custard is set. *Mine were baked in 8 inch Pie Pans and needed the full hour.  2A0EACEF-59C4-4A2A-9B90-67656897C1BE
  • Remove from oven to cool, the filling will be puffed but will settle.
  • Chill completely before serving so the filling flavors will be well developed.
  • Makes 2 Deep Dish Pies. 8c942e73-4c3a-4de0-bae0-cbcccf540837.jpeg
  • Keep refrigerated until serving. Any leftovers also should be kept chilled.
  •  *This is a rich but not too sweet pie. Approximately 8 servings in each pie.

My goodness, y’all! This Egg Custard Pie is good! And, next time- I might consider coating the top with granular sugar, then with one of those kitchen torches- Brule the top! Let’s just hope I don’t set the house on fire! This Fall, try making the comforting Southern Classic – Egg Custard Pie, for Sunday Dinner or even for the Holidays! Your Dessert Table will be even more popular!

Love y’all, Camellia9D879E52-F825-4B79-9CA1-533545189D57

*all photographs are obviously mine

Let the Herbs speak…

BA1C7C01-836D-4FF1-BF9D-5E5F64E22C8DIt’s a language as old as the hills, if we’d only listen…the Language of Herbs and Flowers. As the festive seasons approach… my mind turns to comfort foods and gifts. There is no more wonderful Gift of the Earth for cooking than Herbs. Fresh or dried herbs can make a lowly Chicken sing instead of squawk… an humble bowl of Vegetable Soup will fill the house with a more exquisite aroma. Who can imagine Cornbread Dressing without the scent of Sage? A Steak is fragrant encrusted with Rosemary. Herbs and Flowers have been speaking to Folks for hundreds of years. Bundled and hung to dry, herbs are gifts that keep giving long after harvest. No one really knows just when Herbs and Flowers uplifted folks with their Fragrant Whispers…and were often thought to ward off evil spirits. Historically, the color of flowers gave way to romantic notions.

  • Red Roses meant romantic love- therefore florists deliver their message often.
  • Did you know that purple flowers speak of love at first sight?
  • Orange tones practically shout of enthusiasm and fascination…
  • Yellow Roses tell of joy and friendship
  • Green for young love or peace
  •  White is reserved for reverence, purity and sympathy.

Herbs speak a similar language with potent hidden meanings and messages. As long as anyone can recall- as far back as early 1000 A.D. huge Yule logs began warming folks when the nights grew short and dark…ghost stories were told around the fire that must not be allowed to go out..even a chunk of the Yule Log was saved to start the New Year’s Fires but not before a Green Leaf was brought into the house, most believe it was an evergreen herb of some sort!F58B9363-33C5-4FED-ADBE-1AA2A0DE3C0C

If you’ve ever grown Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Oregano or Thyme… these Mediterranean beauties have an intense aroma which actually softens with age as they hang to dry.  I’m not sure when I first heard of the tradition of drying a meaningful bundle of herbs which were tied to a Yule Log or given fresh then dried to throw on the New Year’s Eve fire.  The bundle of herbs had meaning, some said warded off illnesses and misfortune; brought all kinds of good gifts to the home when folks threw the fragrant bunch on a hot fire. If you’re blessed with an herb garden of any sort- it’s easy to collect the herbs now, tie them off and hang to dry for the holiday’s good wishes! Or you can have some early fun- throw them on your Autumn fires and listen to what they say…

  • Rosemary for Remembrance,
  • Lavender for Love and Devotion,
  • Oregano for Joy and Happiness,
  • Thyme for Affection and Friendship which does take some thyme to foster…excuse me- Time.
  • And don’t forget old gray Sage… he’s always good for some Sage Advice or Wisdom! I particularly love the custom in other cultures to bundle Mexican Sage into smudge sticks… when it’s almost dry…the end is lighted to cleanse the house with it’s fragrant incense.

The Greenery I harvested include regional favorites- Magnolia whose glossy leaves remind me of a sweet wedding with her huge lemon-y jasmine scented blooms- for me, Magnolia represents- Home. The gray Spanish Moss hangs in profusion from Live Oaks along the Coastal Region- representing this strange, everlastingly wonderful region where I’ve spent most of my life-called the South.4055B045-7D4B-44D4-8E1C-15B9FE7E28D1

I’ve added Holly, often used for a Hedge of Evergreen Protection. The wooly Lamb’s Ear with her fuzzy leaves, which for truth- can stop the bleeding; I’ve used that Old Wives’ Wisdom of wrapping a Gardener’s nicked or scraped finger with an herbal bandage, Lamb’s Ear to stop the bleeding! So, adding Lamb’s Ears represent the Healing of Wounds suffered in the course of Living in this old world…

Quite often I add other fragrant natural aromatics, such as cinnamon sticks or pinecones to my offerings-  representing the Spice of Life and Life Eternal. Attached to bundles of Kindling or a small Yule Log- Keep the evil spirits away and Send a Message in a way nothing else can- Let the Herbs speak for themselves…

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine  *No claims of Lamb’s Ear’s healing properties are offered by me, I can attest wrapping a small wound from a thorn or scrape while gardening is temporarily effective. Lamb’s Ear was used to staunch blood flow and dress wounds on battlefields for centuries. Herbalists note the natural bandage has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Please use caution- as soon as possible, wash and dress any wound properly. For the purposes of a Lamb’s Ear’s addition to a bundle of herbs- the symbolism is a wonderful thought- ‘to heal wounds’.  *Herbs added to a small fire log or bundle of kindling along with a written explanation of the meanings is so nice- be sure to add instructions to remove the ribbon. Carefully toss the bundle of herbs on a fire for fragrant sentiments. What a nice way to send good wishes any time of the year!