Janet's Jargon

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Even a missionary gets daring--sometimes!

Shartlesville Pumpkin Pie
It was a long time ago—December, 1965. Ivan and I had just come back from Venezuela long enough to get married, and then we were going back to the mission field. We were at my parents’ home, as I wanted to get married in our old family church.
When I lived at home, I always did a lot of baking. My dad’s favorite dessert was pumpkin pie. He ran a repair shop. His motto was "You break it; we fix it." It was "Howard’s Repair Shop." He had a job to go out on, so I decided to surprise him and bake a pumpkin pie for dinner—which came at noon; supper was the evening meal.
As I looked through the cookbooks I came to one that looked different. Interesting, you might say. I said to Ivan, "I’ll bet you won’t let me make this one." He asked "Why?" so I gave him the cookbook to look at. He sort of grinned and said, "Well, they say the alcohol evaporates in the cooking process, so I guess it won’t hurt anything." I asked my mom if they had any whiskey. I figured the answer would be "No," as they were pretty staunch Baptists. To my surprise, she said, "Look on the top shelf in that cupboard." I pulled the stool over and climbed up to where I could reach the rows of bottles that were up on the top shelf. There must have been at least a dozen bottles! I asked Mother about it, and she said, "A lot of your dad’s customers give them to us for Christmas. We never open them, but you know your dad can’t stand to throw anything out!"
I selected a bottle of 90-proof Bourbon. I unsealed the bottle cap and opened it. At the appropriate place in the recipe, I added it to the pie filling. Yup, I poured that whole cup of the Bourbon in! Now God alone knows how long that bottle had been up there in the cupboard. Mother had no idea! At any rate, it was definitely well aged! And yes, the recipe called for a full 8-oz. cup of the stuff! It also called for separated eggs, and as I added the stiffly beaten egg whites, it was a creation worthy of my old 4-H fair days! It would have won a blue ribbon, for sure.
When it was done, it looked absolutely beautiful. It was big and puffy—and it smelled divine. We waited for my dad to come home, but he was late. He had a hired man who helped him out in the shop. I don’t remember his last name, but his first name was Tony. I don’t have any proof of it, but I had a sneaking idea that Tony had downed his fair share of liquor in his heyday!
When we had finished the main part of the meal, my dad still wasn’t home, so I proudly served each of us with a piece of the pie. Tony took the first bite. I don’t remember for sure, but I think maybe his ears started to smoke. I do remember that his eyes bulged out like a big old green frog! He took that first bite, pushed the plate aside, and very politely said, "I’m real sorry, ma’am, but I don’t think I can even get that one down."
Just about that time my dad pulled into the yard. I grabbed the pie, plates and all, and stashed them—I don’t remember, but I think in the oven.
Well, my dad ate his dinner. I set the gorgeous piece of pie in front of him. Now remember, pumpkin pie was his favorite dessert. He had been known to eat a whole pie at one sitting on more than one occasion. I have never seen my dad eat so much. He finished the main part of the meal, then he got up and got a piece of bread and ate it. Then he went to the cookie jar and had a few cookies. We could tell that he sensed that something was wrong. Nobody else had a shred of their pie—not even their plates—left in front of them.
Finally, he picked up the pie and put his fork into it. It practically melted. He slowly—oh, so slowly—took a bite. His eyes got as big as saucers. He breathed out, and I fully expected to see fire coming out, a la dragon. Instead, he gasped, then let out a cry of "Great balls of fire!" (Remember, they were good Baptists!)
He wanted to feed the rest of the pie to Snoop, the dog. My mother put her foot down. "No way am I going to nurse a drunk dog with a hangover!" she protested.
Ah, yes, such are the things that we will pass down to our children and our grandchildren. Or maybe not!
Stay tuned, and in a couple of days I will give you the recipe. It might work OK if the whiskey wasn’t quite so well aged, or if you used a "shot" of whiskey instead of a whole measuring cup full. Or maybe if you left it out altogether. At any rate, I never made it again.


  • At 9:47 PM, Blogger Billie said…

    Oh Girl you sure do lead an interesting life missionary or not LOL. Thanks for sharing yourself with us.

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Myriam's Muse said…

    You make my kind of pie or at least Babs. Personally I will take my whiskey in my coffee. Keep on cooking... oh, that is right. Now I know why Ivan did the cooking. Like Mother said never let anybody know you can do something or you will have to do it forever.


  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Jessica McCurdy Crooks said…

    LOL...Thanks for the laugh.


  • At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And NOW you know why Jesus drank WINE instead of WHISKEY!

    Epstein LaRue, RN, BS
    Travel Nurse, Published Author


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