Thursday, December 2, 2010



My mother is Portuguese and French--a city-girl born in Oakland, California. My father was German, English, Welsh and French--a farm boy from Baltimore County, Maryland. My husband is . . . well. . . the product of most of Europe, but he was raised on Pennsylvania/Dutch cooking, and as you can guess, it's easier to denote our children's bloodlines with the simple phrase, "they are vast and varied." That variety is evident in the traditional foods we eat at holidays.

Food is a powerful foundation stone for our family. Some of what we eat and how it is prepared is the result of ancestry, like my husband's beloved spaetzles and sauerkraut. Some of it is the result of family history, like the way I frequently cook my turkey in a paper grocery sack because during WWII, the women didn't have access to foil. The tradition continues, and for however weird it may sound, a buttered paper bag roasts a divine bird!

Pie-baking is my mother's hallmark. It was not at all unusual for her to bake twenty pies at Christmas time. The staples of the dessert table were pumpkin, pecan, chocolate, lemon meringue, coconut cream and chocolate mousse. At my house we've narrowed that down to pumpkin, pecan and lemon. Here is the most simple, yet divine pecan pie I've ever eaten. It's Mama Dip's recipe, a restaurateur renowned for her southern cooking. It's a breeze to make and it will last just about that long once it's out of the oven. Enjoy!

Mama Dip's Pecan Pie


1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup light Karo Syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell


1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. In saucepan, melt butter, but do not brown.
3. Mix in sugar and corn syrup until sugar dissolves. Stir in eggs. Mix well. Stir in pecans.
4. Pour into pie shell and bake for 1 hour.

I hope my children will hold on to some of these traditions as well.

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