Just Desserts

Since I’ve been writing a lot about pies, I thought I’d repost this story about a dirty trick I pulled on my brother.  He is still pouting.Bean Pie0001Billy was a good eater. He was over six feet tall by the time he was twelve, worked hard every day and was always hungry. Since Daddy had known real hunger growing up during the depression, he encouraged him to “eat well.” Billy liked to drink his milk from a quart jar to cut down on troublesome refills, and he would hurt a kid over a piece of leftover fried chicken.  When Mother was serving chicken, he’d take a piece or two, eat a couple of bites, put it on his plate, and go for seconds. This made sure he got plenty before it ran out.  By the time he was in high school, if there were leftovers, Mother took to freezing them, hoping to have some for the next meal.  He caught on to that and soon she’d hear the creaking of the freezer door in the dark.

Knowing he was always ravenous when he came in after a late basketball game, Mother once left him a plate of steak and potatoes and a bowl of banana pudding on the counter.  Mistaking the pudding for gravy, he spread it generously over his steak and potatoes.  He said it was awful, but scraped it off and ate it anyway.

Nothing delighted me more than to get the best of him.  Counting on his gluttony, I laid a trap.  I fried up a batch of fresh peach pies, golden and flaky, and left them on a plate on the table.  The topmost pie was the biggest, flakiest, and most tempting of all.  I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist it.  It was filled with salty beans.

Phyllis and I stepped behind the door when we saw him coming.  Lured by the tantalizing aroma of fresh peach pie, he fell into my trap, tearing into that horrible pie.  You can imagine the rest…

Just Folks Getting By Part 18

cook-bookJenny walked in the kitchen to find biscuits in the oven and two pies cooling on the counter. “My goodness, Mama.  Didn’t you go to bed last night?  How did you get this all done so early?

“My eyelids flew up like window shades about four o’clock and I was wide-awake.  I knowed there was no use just a’layin’ there, so I got up an’ started bakin’.  I hope I didn’t bother you none.  I kind’a got me an idear.  I’m a’gonna take one of these pies down to Dolly at the bake shop.  It might be she’d want to sell my pies if you could spare me a couple of hours of the mornin’.  Would you mind runnin’ me down there?”  Lucille asked. “I wouldn’t mind makin’ a couple of dollars long as I’m a’gonna be here awhile.”

“I’d be glad to, but you better not let Ben know what you’re up to.  He might not want you cookin’ around on him.”  Jenny laughed. 

“Who’s cooking around on me?” Ben demanded as he walked in.  “Are those biscuits I smell?  Can you wrap me up a couple to take with me?”

“Why sure.” Lucille replied.  I’ll have bacon in just a minute if you’ll wait.” 

“I guess it won’t hurt to be a minute late.  Uncle Amos is always way early.  He can handle anything that rolls in early.  There’s usually a couple of folks waiting at seven-thirty, but after that it’s usually quiet till about nine.  Could you wrap up a couple for Uncle Amos, too.  I know he’d like ‘em.”

“Mama, why don’t you catch a ride with Ben?  You can call when you are ready and I’ll pick you up.  That will give me time to dress and bathe the baby.”

“Yeah, I’ll just get my stuff together while you finish that bacon.” Said Ben.  “Jenny doesn’t need to keep you all to herself. You are leaving one of those pies here, aren’t you?”

“They are chocolate peanut butter.  I guess I could do that.  Jenny, could you wrap these bacon biscuits and put this pie in that carrier while I get my purse and put on a clean apron.”  Lucille washed her hands and hurried out.

Jenny looked at Ben.  “I think Mama’s up to something, don’t you?”

“Kind of looks like it, but it can’t be too bad if it includes pie.” He mused.





John’s Favorite Chocolate Pie with Optional Peanut Butter

1 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk (I used canned evaporated milk for all my cooking)

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

8 tablespoons white sugar

½ cup peanut butter (optional)


Mix together sugar, cocoa, corn starch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually mix in milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly. Blend in peanut butter if desired.  Reduce heat to medium low; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Slowly stir about one cup of the hot filling into the egg yolks, stirring constantly; mix back into the custard. Return saucepan to heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour hot filling into crust.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. (If yellow gets into whites they won’t whip) Gradually beat in sugar, and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing meringue to crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden.

Just Folks Getting By Part 18


Lucille offered Amos her hand.  “Amos, I always hoped I’d meet you again one day to thank you for your kindness.  I was so grateful to you for the sandwich you gave Jenney that day when you bought me coffee at that café.  That really helped us.  I’d just like to know if that was your last dollar you gave us for our trip?”

“I expect it was, since they were few and far between, but I would have hated to see my wife go off without any money at all.  I know Russ would have done the same.  How is Russ?” he inquired politely.

“We lost Russ about fifteen years ago.  Life ain’t never been the same, but I made up my mind to raise my girls and keep on going.  A person cain’t just lay down and die when they face hardships.  I know you know that.  I heard you lost your wife about a year after I last saw you.”

Ben interrupted, “Jenney, come on back here.  I want you to meet Jerry, the boy who wants to work with us some.  Miss Lucille, Uncle Amos, come on back to my office for coffee when you’ve caught up.”  Jenney followed Ben.

“Yeah, I’ve lost two wives now.  I married again right after my first wife died, then Lizzie, my second died a few years ago.  Me an Lizzie had a us hardware store in Bogata, Texas, but I sold it and divided up with my four girls a few years after Lizzie died.  None of my girls wants to run a business, so I took what I had left and threw in with Ben a few months ago.  I’ve always been partial to Ben since I ain’t got a boy.”

“I had no idea you were kin to Ben.  How come I ain’t never met you before?  Seems like we would a’bumped into each other before now.”  She was puzzled.

“Lizzie was down in bed and died about seven years ago.  I didn’t go nowhere for a long time.  About a year ago, I got a letter from Ben and he told me he had some ideas about expanding.  It’s kind of like I woke up from a long sleep.  I came to see him, and we worked out a deal.  I invested a little and agreed to work a little, and took a share.  Not much, Ben still runs it but it gives me something t””o do and it’s good for me to be busy again.  Sort of makes me feel like I woke up after a long, long sleep.”

“Well, I sure know how that is.  After I got the kids raised, I didn’t want to work so hard in the Café, so I sold it and git by with my little savin’s and Old Age Pension.  I live in a garage apartment at my girl Shirley’s and keep her kids while she’s teachin’, so I ain’t doing no sleeping.  Let’s git on back to the office.  I wouldn’t mind gittin’ off my feet an’ I could sure use a cup of coffee.”

“Yes ma’am.  Coffee sounds mighty good.  Come right on back here.”  He led her to the back.

“Mama, I had no idea you knew each other!”  said Jenny.

“Well, we really don’t.  Amos just gave me and you a ride to town to catch the bus.  Then he gave you his breakfast, so he might be mad you don’t remember him.
“I sure don’t, but a appreciate you looking out for me, Uncle Amos.  Bet you never dreamed I’d be your niece one day, did you?”

“No, I didn’t, but I couldn’t have found a prettier or sweeter one, could I Ben.?”

“No siree!”  Ben beamed.  “I’m sure proud you didn’t let her starve!

“Come on and get some of this coffee and some of these brownies.  I got ‘em from that bakery shop next door.  They sure are good.  I hate it, but that place is going to close down.  The store-owner’s husband is retiring and they are moving to Florida.  They do a great business, but haven’t been able to sell it.  I am sure going to miss it.  I go over and get a little snack to have with my coffee every day.  It’s good business to patronize other local businesses, but it’s kind of bad for my waist, just like your pies, Miss Lucille.  If you keep making pies, I’m going have to go down to Townsend’s and get bigger pants.”  Laughed Ben.

“My gosh!  These are good, but I can’t eat another.  Don’t you dare bring the rest of that box home, Ben.  Put it out for the customers along a pot of coffee.  It’ll be good for business, and your waist.”  With that Jenny and Lucille took the baby and left.

“Is that the bakery shop there?” Lucille asked.  “That’s a cute little shop.  Let’s go in.”

“Sure, Mama.”  Jenny followed her right in.

The attendant scurried right over.  “Is this your shop?”  Yes, ma’am, for just another couple of weeks.  Me and my husband will be moving to Florida.  What can I get you?”

“How about a two of them sugar cookies. “  Lucille pointed her choice out.

“You picked the best thing.  I have one every morning with my coffee.” said the owner, amiably.

“I used to own a café and sell pies.”  said Lucille.

“I’ll bet you make a fine pie.  Anybody that wears an apron, knows their way around the kitchen.  “You see I’m wearing an apron.  My mama made this for me.”

“I saw that apron first thing.  I knew you were a fine cook then.”