Or Don't Mess With Tradition
“It’s a travel cookbook,” I said with pride.
The cookbook was my latest business idea. It would be organized as a global dinner party planning guide. Not only would it have fantastic recipes, but it would also suggest authentic music and wine pairings.
I would start with Italian comfort foods like fresh pasta and brick oven woodfired pizza. Then on to Greece. Greek foods sound so sophisticated—spanakopita and baklava. My cookbook would not be complete without a section from France. Coq-a-vin is one of my all-time favorites, as is basically anything with butter. Mexican food is always a party favorite. Taco Night was a staple at our house when the kids were young. My cookbook would have a more grown-up version of our favorite taco, and rather than a wine pairing, it would be a margarita on-the-rocks, no salt. The section from Japan would feature hand-rolled sushi and vegetable tempura. Finding the perfect music for Japan is a little tricky, but I discovered a fantastic cold-filtered sake to serve instead of wine.
Traveling around the world got me thinking of my family heritage. My dad’s side of the family is from Holland . . . Leeuwarden, to be precise. Grandpa loved to eat pickled herring, and Grandma used butter rather than mayonnaise on cold-cut sandwiches. Not really cookbook material. My mom’s side of the family is from the United Kingdom. The UK hasn’t really been known as a culinary hot spot. I couldn’t think of one dinner we had growing up that stood out as cookbook worthy . . . maybe fish and chips? The English are known for tea and biscuits. Maybe I could add a dessert section.
And there is one special dessert that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. I only recently found out the recipe is Amish. Perhaps discovered when my family lived in Pennsylvania.
Peanut Butter Pie.
This pie is fantastic! It starts with a layer of peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar and crumbled into the bottom of the crust. Then, the crust is filled with a creamy vanilla custard and topped with Dream Whip. The garnish—more crumbled peanut butter—gives the pie a unique look. I’ve been to restaurants that claim to have peanut butter pie. But what they are serving is nothing like my family’s recipe.
Recently, I made the pie for a friend. Her husband loved it! No surprise to me, of course. But it was to her, so she asked for the recipe. I hesitated at first; it is a family recipe after all. But it’s not really a secret recipe. Our peanut butter pie recipe has been published in several church fundraising cookbooks.
I did caution her; it is important NOT to make any substitutions. No almond milk in the custard. Whipped cream sounds like it would be okay, but it’s too heavy—make sure to hunt down the Dream Whip. When we got to the part about the pie crust, I shared Grandma’s technique. Grandma always sifted the flour carefully, then cut in the Crisco shortening. The original one . . . not the butter-flavored version. Grandma’s instructions were to use only a glass bowl—never a metal one—and add just enough iced water to keep the dough together.
At this point, I had to admit that I don’t make my own crust. The roll-out kind you find in the refrigerator section of the grocery store is my go-to pie crust. It saves time, and nobody has ever noticed.
And as I was bragging about my cooking success and the recipes listed in my book, I had to admit . . . there is no point in making pie crust from scratch.