Sunday Dessert – Alabama Peanut Butter Pie

Since my 85 years have started to catch up with me, I don’t cook as often as I used to, particularly in experimenting with new recipes that I can share. I do still cook the family holiday meals, though, and every Sunday fix lunch for my two daughters which features a favorite recipe and is followed by 3 hours of various kinds of needlework and chatting. For these lunches, I always make a favorite dessert and I thought it might be fun to share my Sunday desserts each week.

This week’s dessert was an old favorite going back to the 1970s – Alabama Peanut Butter Pie. The original post is here:  https://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/alabama-peanut-butter-pie/

Whenever I give my daughters a choice of pie, it is either Lemon Meringue or Alabama Peanut Butter. So, this week I decided on Peanut Butter Pie, which is not difficult to make but a little time-consuming.

ALABAMA PEANUT BUTTER PIE

Baked 9 inch pie shell 

Base and topping:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

Filling:

1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
1 cup cold milk
1 cup hot milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tblsp. butter

Meringue:

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tblsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

To Make the Base and Topping: Mix confectioners’ sugar with peanut butter to form crumbs. Spread half of the mixture in the bottom of the baked pie shell. Reserve the other half for the topping.

To Make the Filling: In a medium size saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the egg yolks, mixing well, then add the cup of cold milk. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking and whisking for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool slightly while preparing the meringue.

To Make the Meringue: In a large mixer bowl with wire beater, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to thicken. Add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Stir in vanilla.

Spoon the hot filling on top of the crumb base in the baked shell.

Spread the meringue on top of the filling, extending the meringue to the crust to seal.

Set the pie on a flat sheet to catch crumbs, and sprinkle the reserved peanut butter mixture on top.

Bake @ 325 degrees for 10 minutes to brown meringue. Cool on wire rack.

 

Also served: Shannon’s Curry Chicken Salad:  https://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/shannons-curry-chicken-salad/
on toasted Spicy Honey Raisin Yeast Bread:  https://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/spicy-honey-raisin-yeast-bread/

Summer Sundays on Gotham Place – 1940s

My sister on her bike in front of the red brick house, with Gotham Place in the background
My sister on her bike in front of the red brick house, with Gotham Place in the background

From 1943 to 1950, I lived with my parents and younger sister in a little red brick house on Gotham Place in the East End section of Cincinnati.  To the east was the gas works, to the west was the water works, to the north was Eastern Avenue and to the south, the Ohio River.  The red brick was the very last house on Gotham Place, then came a garage and then came the riverbank.

Shirley and Lillian - last day of school, 1947
Shirley and Lillian – last day of school, 1947

In the seven years we lived there, we had to completely move out of the house three times during flooding.  In the summertime, however, the Ohio River was beautiful and filled with pleasure boats and happy people.  Several times a day, the Island Queen steamboat made the trip from the downtown river landing to Coney Island and back, playing lively calliope music all the way.

The Island Queen
The Island Queen

On a typical Sunday morning in the summertime in the 1940s, my sister and I would wake up in our second floor bedroom and have the leisure of not hurrying so much as we might on a school day.  The room was fairly small, as were all of the four rooms in the house.  The bathroom adjoined this room and the stairs leading downstairs were along one wall.  The odd thing about this room is that there was a door that led nowhere.  In the warm weather, Mother tacked up screening material but we still had to be careful that we didn’t walk through it and take a big step down one floor to the yard below.  My sister and I slept together, as we always had, and at this time had a tan metal double bed.  There wasn’t too much else in the room that I recall – probably a chest of drawers of some kind.  Linoleum was on all of the floors of the house, due partly to economics and partly to the fact that the river covered the first floor quite often and had gotten to the second floor in 1945.

Mother would be in the kitchen downstairs, getting breakfast.  On Sunday we would have pancakes with homemade brown sugar syrup.  During the week we ate cold cereal or oatmeal, but on weekends we enjoyed Mother’s pancakes, made from scratch  We all preferred the homemade syrup and I particularly liked the white sugar syrup which Mother made when she was out of brown sugar.

Mother
Mother

We would put on our Sunday dresses, which were only slightly better than what we wore to school.  Mother prided herself on keeping us supplied with pretty, homemade cotton dresses which fit perfectly because she fiddled with them until they did, no matter what kind of odd seams and darts had to be taken.  We would put on our nice Sunday shoes and wait for Mother to fix our hair.  I had long hair at the time which Mother put into broad finger curls, my sister sometimes had curls and sometimes pigtails because her hair was fine, thin and had no natural curl.

Shirley and Lillian in the Victory Garden (Water Works in the background)
Shirley and Lillian in the Victory Garden (Water Works in the background)

We walked out the front door, through the trellis covered with pink tea roses, and started up the cobblestone street toward Eastern Avenue.  We might have passed other people walking to St. Rose Church because most of the people on our street were Catholic.  It was 6 or 7 blocks to our First Federated Church, but we both liked walking and avoided streetcars or friendly rides from neighbors.

First Federated Church was a nice little stone building which had  a flight of stairs leading up from the street.  It was an old church, a combined Methodist/Presbyterian, and we considered ourselves Methodist because Mother was raised Methodist.  The hymnals were both Presbyterian and Methodist, and they alternated the hymns during the service.  There were pretty stained glass windows, nice pews and the fascinating holders for tiny vials of grape juice for the people who took communion on the rare occasions they offered it.

The choir would file in, wearing their black shiny robes with white collars.  Julia, the ancient and sweet organist, was banging away on the nice pipe organ for the processional.  She was a trained musician but still played something in the style of my grandma, not being too concerned if she hit the wrong keys.  The choir was a group of neighborhood women, none of whom had a particularly good voice.

The minister was a nice looking young man who had a tall, thin, gaunt wife who didn’t appear to match him at all.  Their daughter was my age and they had two sons, one a cute toddler who gave his mother fits.  The sermons weren’t too long or too tedious, but everything in church was tedious for my sister.  She twitched, scratched, moved her feet, did everything I thought was unseemly in church and I was constantly correcting her.  But we both loved to sing the hymns and I always sang the harmony, although probably too softly for anybody to notice.

My sister's wedding at First Federated in 1955
My sister’s wedding at First Federated in 1955

After church, we’d make the long trip back home and by then I was absolutely famished.  Mother would be frying chicken with that wonderful smell filling the house.  There would be mashed potatoes with cream gravy, maybe creamed peas or another canned vegetable (my father didn’t care much for vegetables), and as a salad – some lettuce on a plate with sliced tomatoes topped with mayonnaise.  I’m not sure that anybody except my father had the salad – I didn’t care for the mix and particularly I didn’t want the mayonnaise.  For dessert we usually had pie – mostly cream pies with a small amount of meringue stretched out over several pies.  Mother never seemed to have enough eggs and was always skimpy with them in her recipes.

After dinner, we might help with dishes or not, depending on Mother’s mood.  Then my sister and I would have the afternoon to just spend together in the make-believe world we had invented with a lot of teenage characters, male and female.  Or we might get together with some school friends and make the long walk up Eastern Avenue to the Jackson Theater to see a second-run film, a serial, a cartoon and a newsreel.  Then, we’d make the long trip back as the sun was starting to go down.

In the evening, Mother brought out the dinner leftovers – a few pieces of chicken, mashed potato pancakes, and pie.  We’d eat in the darkening kitchen while listening to Jack Benny or Fred Allen on the radio.  The rest of the evening was spent quietly writing, coloring, or doing jigsaw puzzles while listening to the radio.

By nine o’clock my mother and sister were always ready for bed, but I was never sleepy.  Most of the time I was allowed to stay up and quietly read along with my father until I felt I could fall asleep.

My memories of those Sundays are always of peace and quiet.  If there had ever been an uproar over something, that unhappy memory has faded over the years.

Daddy, Mother, Lillian, Shirley in front of 247 Gotham Place
Daddy, Mother, Lillian, Shirley in front of 247 Gotham Place

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Fluffy Pineapple Dessert

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My oldest daughter was here on Sunday and we wanted something for supper that was satisfying, yet relatively healthy and not as heavy and rich as the food we’ve been eating for the past two weeks.

I got some leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast from the freezer and heated it on the stovetop with some broth and seasonings.

For our vegetables, I tried Sweet Rosie’s method of roasting vegetables – wonderful – be sure to include the whole cloves of garlic.

For dessert I went back to an old family favorite from the 1970s – Fluffy Pineapple Dessert.  This is really delicious and it makes a lot, way too much for two people.  But by the time I sent some home with this daughter, saved some for the youngest daughter and kept some for myself, it was just about right.

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FLUFFY PINEAPPLE DESSERT

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the non-fat kind)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (in pineapple juice), drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 16 oz. container of whipped topping (I used Cool Whip Lite)

In a large bowl, combine milk and lemon juice; stir until thick.  Add crushed pineapple and nuts; mix well.  Fold in whipped topping.  Pour into 9×13 pan and refrigerate for several hours.

This dish was very popular at square dance potluck dinners. 

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