60th Anniversary Party

This year marks my Granny and Papa’s 80th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversary.  A celebration was most definitely in order.  We put together an “open house” type party at their church and served cake and punch.

The happy couple in front of the treats.

Aunt Vickie had the cake and cupcakes made.  They were beautiful and delicious.

As we were setting up for the party, we had a bit of an incident.  I was in the kitchen with Lauren and Aunt Vickie and I was looking for a lighter to light candles in the function hall.  I opened the drawer on the left to find a lighter for the candles.  As I opened the drawer, a mouse popped out and ran into the back of the cabinet.  Cousin Lauren, Aunt Vickie and I shrieked as I nearly jumped out of my skin and back about 5 feet.  I don’t remember how it happened in my state of shock, but the drawer was then somehow closed.   Aunt Vickie, Cousin Lauren and I agreed that we had not hallucinated, that the tissue paper in the drawer had been shredded by the little creature, and that we would pull it together and carry on with the festivities after this traumatic event.  That is all I would like to say about that.

All we could find to light the candles was a box of small matches.  I wasn’t about to open any more drawers in the kitchen.   I already said enough about that.

We nominated Uncle Brian to light the candles since he seemed to have more of a handle on how not to burn himself instead of the candle.

Caramelized mums.   Approximately 9 minutes after poor Uncle Brian lit all 24 candles, we had to blow them out so we didn’t burn the place down.  So much for the ambiance.

Aunt Vickie had a beautiful throw made with pictures of Granny and Papa when they were first “courting” and married.  I know they will treasure it.

Nobody wanted to sit at the tables until cake was served.  We had a full perimeter.

Before we served the cake, my dad thanked everyone for coming and decided to ask Granny and Papa a few questions about getting married.  My Mom had been asking them about it before everyone arrived and we all thought the stories were worth sharing because my grandparents actually eloped.

The Wedding/Elopement:

The story goes that Granny and Papa were out and about in Burkesville on a Saturday night as was typical.  Granny’s parents had even seen them around town and were pleased to see that they were having a good time (little did they know what was cooking…).  Granny and Papa knew of a minister in the county who would marry them so they took two of their friends as witnesses and had the minister marry them that evening.

My dad asked Granny to talk about what the minister said at the wedding and Granny said she can’t remember because she was just focused on saying “I do.”

My dad then asked how much the wedding cost, to which Papa replied that it was “very expensive.”  The minister didn’t officially charge anything to marry them but apparently would take $10.  Papa has decided that that $10 was “money well spent.”

Given that my Papa was such an obedient son and respectful person, it’s still hard for all of us to believe that they eloped.  When asked whose idea it was to elope, Papa pointed at Granny and everybody just laughed. 

The story gets even more interesting because they kept their marriage a secret for 6 weeks.  One day my Papa walked into Granny’s parent’s house to see Granny and Mammie, Granny’s mother, confronted him, saying she knew he would put off telling them as long as he could (evidently, Granny had spilled the beans but neglected to let Papa know that the secret was out).  Papa said he didn’t know if he should “faint or go blind.”

It was great to hear them tell those stories.  I hadn’t even heard some of the details before. 

And then it was time to eat and visit!

Quite a turnout as you can tell by the cake.  And Granny was worried no one would come.

I was in charge of cutting this cake.  Didn’t I do a beautiful job?

(Not.)

Granny and Papa and their boys, Uncle Brian and my dad.

Granny and Papa and the full squad: sons, daughters-in-law, and grandbabies (3 out of 4).

Only 3 of the 4 grandchildren have been at each their 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries.  At the 40th, Kristen wasn’t born yet, at the 50th, I had just started high school and couldn’t miss that much school to travel from Boston to Kentucky.  And during the 60th, my sister, Eugene, was missing because she is currently studying abroad. Let the record show that cousin Lauren has perfect attendance.

Apparently, we were in need of some bossing.  It was her party after all.

She realized I had caught her in the act.

This is so adorable, I can’t stand it.

This is equally adorable.  Clearly, if there’s one thing my family knows how to do, it’s how to laugh.

The party was full of reunion of old friends and extended family, storytelling, and laughter.   Granny and Papa seemed to have a great time and really enjoyed seeing everybody who came. 

Congratulations on 80 years of life and 60 years of life together, Granny and Papa!  We all love you very much.

Y’all give each other some sugar,

Sugarlump

Granny’s Chocolate Pie

This is one of my granny’s specialties.

My granny is a great baker and while the rest of my family thinks her pecan pie and her butterscotch pie are unrivaled, I would take her chocolate pie over those two any day.

She makes a chocolate pie every time I come to visit and I always look forward to it.  There’s just nothing else quite like it.

When I make her chocolate pie, I ignore the meringue because that just dilutes the wonderful, rich chocolate.  But for those who are serious about pretty pies, I have included the meringue in the recipe.

While the pie is not that hard to make, there are a few tricks that are critical.  It just so happens that these tricks are not listed in my granny’s recipe as submitted to a local cookbook.  Though some people leave out ingredients and steps so no one can steal their thunder, I don’t think this was intentional on my granny’s part.  She has just made this pie so many times in her life that I bet she didn’t even realize some of the things that she does that make it just so.

Consequently, I had to make the pie with her several times before I had all of the right steps and ingredients.  I have notes scribbled all over the recipe in the cookbook.  One thing that she does is make 1 ½ times the recipe ingredients for a fuller pie.  So, for the sake of simplicity, I have listed the ingredients as she and I always make them instead of trying to remember to multiply all of the measurements by 1 ½.  Brilliant, right?

She taught me to make this pie several years ago and then she later taught my cousin.  Wouldn’t you know that she has changed the recipe in the last year?

She added cornstarch, which I think makes it too thick and robs it of its velvety goodness.  Apparently, there is also cream of tartar and marshmallow fluff in the meringue. This was news to me, but I don’t make the meringue anyway, so I’m not going to get all worked up about it.

Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:

9” pie crust

1 ½ cups sugar

3 ½ tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups milk (best made with whole milk)

4 ½ tbsp. cocoa powder

Smidgen of salt

5 eggs, separated

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of cream of tartar

3 tbsp. marshmallow creme

I forgot to pull out the marshmallow creme for the picture.  Sorry about that.  Also, the sugar and flour seem to be a little shy as they hide behind the cornstarch that I would recommend you not use.  I should also note at this point that my granny does not put any salt in the pie, but I feel like just the tiniest amount really boosts the chocolate-y-ness.

So, here we go:

Bake off the pie shell according to the package instructions.  Or, if you would like to blind bake a homemade crust, knock yourself out.

Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in the pot that will be the top half of your double boiler.

Separate eggs.  Set egg whites aside for meringue.

Combine half of milk and yolks…

…and whisk until completely incorporated (i.e. no yolk bits that could cause lumps in the pie.  Your granny will be very upset if you are not careful about this. Trust me, I speak from experience.)

Now here is some tricky business that my granny does not have written down anywhere, but it is the secret to having a smooth pie filling: pour egg and milk mixture through a strainer into dry mixture.

Because we told Granny to sit down as we prepared the pie so we could try to make it ourselves, there was a lot of back seat driving.  Apparently, we weren’t straining the eggs correctly…..but the pie turned out fine.

Assure your grandma that you’ve got things under control and then add the other half of the milk through the strainer.

And then give it a big ol’ stir to let the ingredients get to know each other.

Then put the mixture on the stove and stir. I should mention that my granny has a bizarre pot (pictured) that I believe was once part of a pressure cooker that somehow functions similarly to a double boiler so we always use this to make pie fillings.  One less thing to clean.

Now, you may want to start out with a whisk to make sure all of the ingredients incorporate, but then switch to a spoon and stir the mixture over medium-low heat constantly until the mixture has thickened.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot gently so thickened parts don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

If you are impatient when it comes to eating chocolate like I am, you may think the filling is done when the mixture has a little bit of body to it, but you would be incorrect.  The mixture is not adequately thickened until you can see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds in the wake of your spoon when you scrape it against the pot.

As the mixture begins to thicken, you may add the butter and vanilla for a nice touch of richness because the chocolate is not rich enough already. Ha.

Continue cooking until the mixture achieves the viscosity described above.

Let cool a bit and then pour into baked pie shell.

Let pie cool completely before preparing meringue.  Or just let it cool until it’s just warm and eat a slice without any of that silly meringue.  Suit yourself.

Please lick the pot as you wait. It would be a sin to let any chocolate go to waste.

My cousins, sister and I have licked many a chocolate pie pot in our days.  We were caught chocolate-handedwhen this photo was taken a few years ago.

If you elect to make a sky-high meringue as my cousin Lauren did, beat the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar on high until they form peaks when you pull the whisk out.  Then, add marshmallow creme 1 tablespoon at a time.

I forgot to take a picture of this step because I was still licking the pot.

Next, using a spatula, make your meringue real purty on the pie.  Then bake it in a 400 degree oven until the meringue peaks start to brown.

Let pie cool and then devour.

Even though I promptly slid the meringue off my pie when I ate a piece, I have to admit that my cousin did a lovely job with the meringue.

Please enjoy.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Sugarlump