My grandmother makes the best pies. Of course, everyone’s grandmother makes the best pies, but I’m not kidding when I say my grandmother’s pies are divine. Everyone in my family has their favorite: some like the peach, some like the sweet potato, some like the chocolate. But from my grandmother’s pie-making repertoire, there is one pie that we all agree is top notch: her pecan pie. One of the distinguishing characteristics of her pies is how fresh they are. She and my grandpa live on a farm, where small groves of pecan and peach trees grow and where there is always an ample crop of sweet potatoes. So her pies are made with the fruit of the land, making them very, very tasty. My grandparents are pragmatic people, and as they're getting older, they always ask what we want willed to us. In yet another testament to her pies, the one thing we all fight over is my grandmother's rolling pin that she was given in the 1940s and has used ever since. Forget the land, the houses or the antiques--we all want that magical tool that has rolled out so many delicious crusts. Family skirmishes aside, I’m fortunate that even though I live a thousand miles away, she always sends me a pecan pie for my birthday. This year I opted to freeze a slice for a time when I was most in need of a fix, and a couple of days ago when I was feeling very homesick, having the chance to eat a slice of her pecan pie filled me with great peace. I don’t know if it’s the freshness of the pecans or the love she puts into each pie, but they are delicious and always bring me back home. She has graciously given me her recipe, which she learned from her mother. Here it is:
For the crust (makes enough for two):
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil (she used to use corn, but I believe she uses canola now)
1/4 cup milk
For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup white Karo syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 cup of pecans
For the crust:
Mix flour and salt. Mix oil and milk. Pour oil and milk into flour and salt and stir until combined into a dough. Can add more milk if dry. Separate into two balls (save one ball for another pie). Roll crust out between two sheets of wax paper, line a buttered pie pan with crust.
For the filling:
Mix sugar, syrup, eggs and vanilla. Add milk, flour, melted butter. Then add pecans.
Pour filling into pie pan lined with unbaked crust.
Bake at 350 for a little less than an hour, until set. Makes one pie.