Nutty Cornmeal Pie

One reason I love old country recipes is because the ingredients I need are already on the pantry shelves and in the refrigerator. It’s a comforting thing knowing you don’t have to run out to the store for that one ingredient which places this pie, and comfort food in general, so high on my list. There’s was hardly a minute’s thought between the “I want pie” idea and the doing of it on Saturday.  When you want something quick, but special, this is a great pie and you’ll find preparing it on the same happy continuum as the act of easing into your most comfortable clothes.  Prepping comfort food is as close as it gets to putting your feet up the entire time you’re in the kitchen and there is nothing easier.

The recipe is as listed in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook.  I found it in a favorite recipe collection of mine called “Heartland Cooking” by Marcia Adams. Just reading the recipe you know its origin is from slower days when cooks turned again and again to preparing food from what was “on hand”; perhaps that is why there are so many variations to this pie, all of them sweet and filling.

Do this pie justice and roll out a flaky and tender pastry shell for this one. You’ll be glad you did.  The filling will remind you of a pecan pie as well of buttermilk and chess pies.  The flaked coconut topping suggests a french coconut pie so obviously this is a pie with many first cousins in its family tree!  The cornmeal adds just enough texture to justify the pie’s name and supplies the slight graininess in the filling.  Every one of the pies mentioned above are comforting and satisfying.  And every one of them the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of coffee and a long conversation with a friend.  This pie longs for company so do give it a chance to show its stuff.

Prep time is minimal once you roll out the pastry (I am repeating myself, I know, but I am also assuming you committed to making your pie crust when I mentioned it above). That accomplished, simply stir the dry ingredients, and, in a separate bowl, with your hand mixer, blend the liquid ingredients and combine all. Scrape the filling into that great crust and add your choice of chopped nuts; I used pecans today but my favorite with this pie is the tang of hickory nuts.  Just a light sprinkling of flaked coconut and your pie is in the oven and you are doing your its-all-done-happy-dance in your most comfortable clothes in no time!

Nutty Cornmeal Pie


1-9” unbaked pastry shell
1 cup brown sugar minus 2. T.
1 cup granulated sugar minus 2 T.
2 T. flour
1 T. yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup hickory nuts, walnuts, or pecans, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Directions Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, flour, cornmeal, and salt; sift with fork and set aside; in a second large bowl, combine the eggs, butter, milk, and vanilla and beat with electric mixer on low-speed until just blended; don’t let too many air bubbles form. Combine this with the dry ingredients and stir to blend until smooth. Pour into your pastry shell and sprinkle the top of the pie with the chopped nuts and shredded coconut. Bake 35 minutes or until lightly puffed and golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack before serving. A dollop of whipped cream on each piece adds a nice touch.

Mama’s Curried Chicken Salad


Is there anything better than a good chicken salad sandwich on a summer day?  Okay, maybe a bowl of lightly salted chilled watermelon, but other than that, you can’t do better than a chicken salad sandwich on a soft dinner roll; add curry to your dressing and toasted pecans to the salad and you will feel strictly uptown and satisfied!  I intended to have a photo of this salad ready to serve on soft butter and egg rolls but the café was jumping on Wednesday and the chicken salad flew out the door before there was time for an additional photo op!

This old recipe of mama’s originally used a can of cooked chicken but I changed that years ago and began using either skinless boneless chicken breasts, or, as I did last week, 6-7 large chicken thighs with the skin on for cooking then skin discarded and meat cut from the bone and shredded.  That is the only change I would even consider for this delightful flavorful  salad.

Prep your vegetables while the chicken simmers in enough water to cover and prepare the dressing and you’ll be all set once the chicken cools enough to shred.  Add everything to a large mixing bowl and pour on the dressing, folding gently.  Chill at least 4 hours or overnight and you’ll be uptown in no time!  Serve on a large dinner roll or bun or lay the salad into a quartered ripe juicy tomato, add crackers, and ohhh-la-la!


4-5 chicken breasts or thighs (around 1-1/2 lbs.)
1/2 lb. seedless green grapes, ends trimmed and each cut lengthwise
1-(12 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 cup celery, sliced very thin
1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped and toasted

For the dressing

1-1/2 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. shoyu (soy sauce)
1/2 T. curry powder, or less, to taste

Directions Gently boil the chicken until tender. Don’t overcook the chicken as it will turn hard and rubbery. Drain well, cool, then chop or shred into small pieces. It is fine for the chicken to shred small; it doesn’t need mincing as then it wouldn’t absorb the dressing as readily. In large bowl, combine chicken, grapes, water chestnuts, celery and pecans.

Prepare the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, lemon juice, shoyu (soy sauce), and curry powder. Use a whisk to thoroughly blend, tasting as you go and adjusting to your taste. Spoon the dressing over the salad ingredients, folding gently but thoroughly to coat well. Chill covered for several hours, or overnight, allowing the flavors to mingle.

Cabbage Patch Stew

The first hint of cooler weather in the air today was the impetus for trying this recipe for Cabbage Patch Stew.  I found the recipe in Thelma Carlile’s “Mealtimes and Memories” cookbook and adjusted it slightly (I wanted more than 1 cup of cabbage in the pot!).  The temperature dropped even more by suppertime yet I was completely happy enjoying this queen-of-comfort-food dish along with a tray of cornbread muffins.  If you are a fan of cabbage, stewed tomatoes, and mashed potatoes (and who isn’t?) then this is a recipe you will find yourself reaching for repeatedly as temperatures drop.

I did use more than the original amount of cabbage called for and added more stewed tomatoes than listed.  I adjusted the amount of water to allow for the extra vegetables and added a beef bouillon cube for a richer flavor to the broth.  Do prepare your vegetables before you begin browning the ground beef and allow the cabbage, onions, and celery to simmer slowly until softened.  Taste the broth as you go and season accordingly.

Prepare mashed potatoes for topping individual bowls of the stew. I used a packaged mashed potato mix as it made exactly the 2 cups I wanted. The potatoes add contrasting texture and thicken the broth slightly. A side of cornbread muffins is all I needed to complete this simple, yet satisfying meal. This light stew will have you feeling warm and cozy in no time,  reminding you that autumn is on her way.

Cabbage Patch Stew


1 lb. ground chuck, browned
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup celery, sliced thinly
1-(16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained
1-(16 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, drained and snipped smaller
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
2 cups prepared mashed potatoes

Directions: In a pan sprayed with cooking spray, brown the meat over medium heat. Add onions, cabbage, and celery; cook until soft. Add water to cover (approximately 3 cups); simmer with lid on, 15 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, and seasonings and cook 15-20 minutes more. Serve in bowls topped with spoonfuls of mashed potatoes.  Lightly add pepper to the potatoes and serve warm.

Mango Nectar Pound Cake

The original recipe is found in a great collection called “Mealtimes and Memories” by Thelma L. Carlile.  This cake is  also so similar in taste to the Apricot Nectar Cake recipe found in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook; actually you can use any of these three recipes and have the same results. The canned nectar, made from fruit concentrate, is available in apricot, mango and guava that I find locally.  The nectar doesn’t flavor the cake powerfully, but each flavor does add its own subtle change.

This is an easy cake to prepare: you can bake it in a Bundt pan or a 10″ tube pan and it is a one-mixing-bowl batter. Allow the batter to breathe after beating. You’ll want your stand mixer for this if you have one so you can put the 6 minutes beating time to better use. The batter pours easily into your prepared pan. I drizzled my frosting on too soon actually as the cake was still slightly warm but it was one of those busy afternoons and though the slight puddling of icing seen around the base of the cake here was unintentional, it was more than adequate for scooping up with a fork those last moist sweet bites of  golden brown crumbs.

Mango Pound Cake

Cake Ingredients

1-(18-1/2 oz.) Duncan Hines Supreme Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Wesson oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 can mango nectar, divided use

FROSTING ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Remainder of can of nectar

Directions Preheat oven to 350. Combine the cake mix and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend in the eggs, oil, and lemon juice then add the mango nectar; beat for 6 minutes at medium speed. Allow batter to breathe in the bowl for five minutes then pour into a greased and floured 10” tube or 12 cup Bundt pan. Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on cake rack 10 minutes then remove from pan by inverting onto your serving plate. Allow to cool completely then frost allowing the frosting to drizzle down the sides of the cake.  Beat frosting until no lumps remain and mixture is smooth.

French Coconut Pie

French Coconut Pie blog
This is a pie for sweet tooth folks only so feel free to reduce the amount of sugar as you wish.  I’m one of those nothing-is-too-sweet-for-me people and I think the pie is perfect “as is” but do your own thing, as always!

This basic 2-step recipe (make a crust then make your filling and bake the pie) is always a winner!  The vinegar in the filling contrasts nicely with the sweetness and in that this pie will remind you of a Chess or Cornmeal Pie as the recipes for each of these produce a pie with a sweetened thick, sometimes grainy, texture.

Serve this at room temperature after baking or chilled if there are leftovers.  Dollop with a whipped cream rosette and you’re ready to sit down, relax, and enjoy mightily! The recipe, from my sister’s deli cookbook, is also found in my “Missouri to Maui” cookbook.  If you’re a coconut fan this is a good pie for you!

French Coconut Pie


4 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 T. flour
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut (1/3 cup reserved)
1-1/2 T. vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-9” unbaked pastry shell

Directions Preheat oven to 350. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, butter, sugar, flour, coconut, vinegar and vanilla until well-blended and creamy. Pour into the unbaked pastry shell and bake 40 minutes or until set. Add the reserved coconut to top of the pie and bake another 15 minutes until the coconut flakes brown and are well-toasted.