Pie Crusts Part 3

Here is the final part of the 3 part series on pie crust. The first part can be found here, and the second here.

June 1983

For a fitting climax to this 3- part series on pies, I went to the queen supreme of pie bakers, Eleanor Manning, for advice. Her pies have melt- in- your- mouth goodness and the crusts are tender layers of flaky goodness. Behind her stretches a lifetime of pies, and she’s still going strong. Apple, cherry, rhubarb, custard, lemon meringue – name the pie and Eleanor has made it.

“Surely she has a carefully guarded secret for perfect pies,” I thought.

When I asked her, “How do you make such perfect crusts?” Eleanor quickly went to the kitchen and returned carrying her old high school home ec book, Basic Principles of Domestic Science, by Lilla Frich. The cover was worn and bespattered. The pages perilously loose, but the recipes were all still there – having served a lifetime dating from Eleanor’s marriage in 1917 when she was only eighteen years old.

While Glenn ran a dairy farm Eleanor cooked for hired men and her three children, Norman, Martha and Elizabeth, plus friends and relatives they collected from far and wide.

In the community she was active in Eastern Star and went through all the offices. She was a devoted member of the Christian Church and the Ladies Aid Society and helped by tying comforts and quilting.

Eleanor and Glenn loved to travel and went to every state of the union, Canada three times, to Nassau, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Europe, Nova Scotia, and Mexico many times. They often drove in a camper.

When they weren’t working or traveling they were square dancing or having fun. Eleanor has a rare gift of friendship and their home overflowed with guests, both family and friends.

They spent many summers in Colorado – often with some of their 10 grandchildren and their young friends. They all knew grandma would welcome them with open arms and feed the whole gang. In the winter for the past ten years they went to Texas where in 1982 they celebrated their 65th anniversary of marriage.

After Glenn’s death last year Eleanor has lived at their home in Sedgwick where she leads an active life and entertains often. Even though she tragically lost two grandchildren in the prime of their life she perseveres and is an inspiration to those who know her.

When asked her secret for such a rich, full life Eleanor replies, “We worked hard and drank lots of orange and grapefruit juice. We were always ready to take up anything we wanted to do.”

PIE CRUST

1 ½ cup flour ½ cup lard or Crisco

3 tablespoons water, cold ½ teaspoon salt

Sift flour before measuring. Mix flour and salt. Cut fat in with pastry blender or rub shortening in with hands (I prefer my hands). Add cold water. Combine lightly to form a ball of pastry. This makes one 2-crust pie or two 1-crust shells.

Bake at temperature called for in pie recipe.

LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Filling: 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup boiling water Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

2 egg yolks

Meringue: 2 egg whites 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions for filling: Mix sugar and cornstarch. Add boiling water. Cook until clear and thick. Add beaten egg yolks, lemon juice, butter and rind. Cook for a minute or two. Pour into baked shell.

Directions for meringue: Beat whites until stiff. Add sugar gradually. Spread over filling to edges. Brown at 350° until delicately colored.

COCONUT CREAM PIE

Filling: 2 cups milk ½ cup sugar

2 or 3 eggs, depending on size 3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup coconut

Meringue: 2 eggs whites 2 tablespoons sugar

Extra coconut

Filling: Combine sugar and cornstarch. Add milk. Cook until thick. Add to beaten yolks (save whites). Add coconut. Cook another minute or two. Pour into baked shell.

Meringue: Beat whites until stiff. Add sugar gradually. Spread on pie. Sprinkle with coconut. Brown lightly in 350° oven.

CUSTARD PIE

2 eggs 1/3 cup sugar

2 cups milk Nutmeg

Beat eggs and sugar. Add milk. Pour into unbaked shell. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350° to finish. Bake until jiggly in middle. No exact time. Be careful not to overbake.

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