Friday, December 11, 2015

The Egg Lady and her oatmeal pie


No, we didn't like that pie at all.
At some point in the 1960s, a gaunt farm wife used to drive around Saginaw, Michigan in a rattletrap station wagon with her developmentally challenged daughter in the front seat next to her and deliver eggs and pies to people like the grandmother of Patty Pinner, author of the cookbook Sweety Pies. According to Pinner's grandmother, the so-called "Egg Lady" was married to "one of those kinds of husbands who leave the house and head for the corner store and you don't know whether they'll be back in six minutes or six months."

Pinner's grandmother was black and the Egg Lady was white, but unlike other white woman who visited the neighborhood in their fur coats, carrying themselves with the "poise of entitlement," the Egg Lady wore tattered housedresses. One day while the Egg Lady was transacting business with Pinner’s grandmother, her daughter got out of the car to play with Pinner. Unsettled by the girl's "slow, backward manner," Pinner refused to play with her, one of those trivial decisions you regret forever. All these decades later, Pinner wishes she could go back and apologize to the Egg Lady’s daughter. I have a few Egg Lady's daughters in my own past, shocking to say.

Anyway, that’s the gist of the 2-page headnote to the recipe for The Egg Lady’s oatmeal pie and it's a poignant standalone story with vivid characters, a glimpse of period race/class dynamics, a little drama, a moral, a conclusion. Headnotes like this are one reason I like Pinner's book so much. The Egg Lady's oatmeal pie is another. You wouldn't think that oatmeal could make an exquisite pie, but a lot of exquisite things have been made from very little -- Shaker chairs, Depression-era quilts, New Mexican tinwork -- and this pie is one of them. Three of us demolished all but one slice of the pie in about 20 minutes the other night, and the person who could least afford to finish it off the next morning did so. (For the record, I baked a half recipe in a 7-inch pan, so we weren't quite as piggish as that makes us sound.) 

It's hard to describe this pie. It's a lot like chess pie -- with oats. Alternatively, try to imagine a very thin, pale pecan pie made with white sugar instead of brown, oats instead of nuts. 

Or maybe just bake the pie and see for yourself. It could not be easier, cheaper, or better. 

Egg Lady's oatmeal pie adapted from Patty Pinner's Sweety Pies.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and have ready an unbaked 9-inch pie crust. In a bowl, beat 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, a pinch salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup light corn syrup, and 2/3 cup old fashioned oats (not quick cooking.) Pour into crust. Bake for  35-45 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling fairly firm to the touch. Not too firm, though. You’re looking for a delicate crust over a tender jelly-like pudding, not a cookie. Cool. Serve at room temperature. 


32 comments:

  1. I guess many of us have an Egg Lady's Daughter in our past. I'm sorry, too. I thought at first I was looking at a quiche, but I'm intrigued and despite the 2/3 cup of corn syrup not sounding very appealing - I will give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting -- I see corn syrup in a pie recipe and think, "I'm gonna like this."

      Delete
  2. I'm channeling Laurie Colwin and wondering whether you could sub Lyle's golden syrup for the corn syrup. I'm also thinking this would be a good use of some of the farm stand eggs I have in the fridge . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had that same thought, and I bet it would not only work but be delicious. I used to work in a wonderful hippie cafe in the early 70's and we used to serve a pie that was similar to this. It was a poor man's pecan pie, with oats on the top instead of nuts. I remember that it was just delicious.

      Delete
    2. I almost always replace corn syrup with Lyle's golden syrup. I think that's why my pecan pie is so good.

      Delete
    3. I've never tried subbing Lyle's -- though it's SO good and I imagine it would be an improvement. I don't mind corn syrup, but Lyle's has something extra.

      Delete
  3. my kids are allergic to nuts--could this really be a decent substitute for pecan pie? (my personal favorite)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sold. Putting the book on my wish list...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok, I want to warn you: the sex role stereotyping in the stories is intense. A friend bought this book already and was like, what the heck, Jennifer? I could see why she had that reaction. I like this book. Something different. But it's definitely just that: DIFFERENT.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That brief anecdote touches on so many things from my family's past...my mother, growing up in the 1950s, helped out a neighbor couple by walking their developmentally disabled infant around the block in her carriage. Later on, when our state first began to offer disabled children for adoption (rather than raising them in mental institutions) my parents were among the first to volunteer and we acquired two siblings with Down's Syndrome.

    And on the other side of the family, my father-in-law grew up in rural poverty in the 1940s. The family still speak fondly of the comparatively well-off black neighbor who helped out the needy white family in small ways after their father died. For instance, he helped one of the girls earn money for her first bicycle by paying her to pick up cans and bottles discarded on his land.

    So many little ways in which life doesn't follow the dominant narrative...not unlike a pie made from eggs and oatmeal. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your parents sound amazing. What a beautiful story.

      Delete
  7. OK, a few anecdotes,and I am sold on this book. Couldn't find it at the library (drat), so I ordered it. It sounds like a little gem. I think all of us have regrets, but hopefully we have moved past the fear and bias that created them at the time.
    While growing up, I ate a lot of chess pie. My dad needed a homemade dessert every night, and it was something my mother made often. Butter, eggs, sugar, what's not to like? Poor man's brulee! I was always amazed at how quickly she could turn out a pie with homemade crust. The addition of oatmeal is very intriguing, and I must try it. Now that I am fasting again, I can eat with abandon when I do eat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the intermittent fasting!!!! I hope I didn't mislead you with this book. It's different. You might not like it at all. The stories are very un-feminist. This doesn't bother me at all, but I can see how it might bother others.

      Delete
  8. I have Patty Pinner's "Sweets: Soul Food Desserts and Memories" but haven't really read through it. Will have to see if it is similarly entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That one is supposed to be better, actually. I bought it. I want to make the pink cake on the cover.

      Delete
  9. This sounded so intriguing so I bought it, a birthday present to myself. Strangely enough I have about half of the recipes in my Moms hand written book of "Good things to eat". I did enjoy the stories about the different pies but, I absolutely could not comprehend the focus on the underlying reason for making these pies. If anyone else reads the book please let me know if I am missing the point or just can't put my 2015 head into a 1960-1970 world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely an odd book. It seemed like basically an excuse to write about these women in her past and the pies were almost incidental. Also, I've never before heard the term "womanish."

      Delete
  10. Greetings,

    I just found your blog--kind of circuitously--and just bought your book at Amazon. I don't know how I missed you! I'm going to be making up for it be reading it all over the next few weeks. I appreciate that we are in the same generation *ahem* so to speak.

    Cheers!

    Jules

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am guessing you are facing, or have recently faced, a certain unmentionable birthday.

      Delete
  11. I can't thank you enough for introducing me to SWEETY PIE.

    Absolutely LOVED the book - the genuine article a-swim in a sea of sumac-sprinklin', thai curry paste coughin', evo gluggin' wannabes.

    Somebody mentioned Laurie Colwin - she would have LOVED this book.

    I admit - I've never rolled out a piecrust.

    Patty Pinner may just be the nudge I need.

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Kannur University Result 2016 for all course
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2017
    Kannur University Result 2017
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Entrance Date 2016
    Kannur University Degree Allotment
    Kannur University Trial Allotment 2016
    Kannur University Admission 2016
    Kannur University Onlie Admission
    Kannur University Distance Education Result 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Degree Allotment
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Trial Allotment 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admission 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Onlie Admission
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Degree Allotment
    Karnatak State Open University Trial Allotment 2016

    ReplyDelete
  13. Karnatak State Open University Admission 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Onlie Admission
    Karnatak State Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University BA Result 2016-2017
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University Result 2016 for all course
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2017
    Andhara University Result 2017
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Entrance Date 2016
    Andhara University Degree Allotment
    Andhara University Trial Allotment 2016
    Andhara University Admission 2016
    Andhara University Onlie Admission
    Andhara University Distance Education Result 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University BA Result 2016-2017
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University Result 2016 for all course
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2017
    Symbiosis University Result 2017
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Entrance Date 2016
    Symbiosis University Degree Allotment
    Symbiosis University Trial Allotment 2016
    Symbiosis University Admission 2016
    Symbiosis University Onlie Admission
    Symbiosis University Distance Education Result 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad BA Result 2016-2017
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2016 for all course
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Entrance Date 2016

    ReplyDelete