Though I grew up in the big city of Chicago, my maternal relatives are from West Virginia and that means eating good! My maternal Grandma was always in the kitchen cooking, and the food was spectacular! Grandma had a few recipes that I would never taste, no matter if she made them, or if her Mom did. When I think back about it, I get a god chuckle because the recipes for things that everyone in their family loved. Two of the recipes that I refused to taste as a child are Johnny Bowl Pudding and Milk Pie.
I tried Johnny Bowl Pudding about 5 years ago when I was in Ohio. I was pretty much forced to try it. I am a very picky eater and definitely was not happy. But, I tried it to make everyone happy. In the end, I loved it! Johnny Bowl Pudding is a bread pudding and I will never pass up a bread pudding again.
Finally lets talk about the Milk Pie! You can hardly get me to drink a glass of milk, let alone eat at as a pie. The only milk I like is drenched with chocolate sauce as well. Well, let me tell you how silly I have been! Milk Pie is super sweet, you only need one piece and your sweet tooth will be more than satisfied! I finally tasted this on New Years Eve of 2009. Grandma had passed away early that evening and as a family we decided to make a Milk Pie. I was not wanting to taste it, but I was urged by my family to at least try it, because I would not be disappointed. They were right and my kids loved it as well.
So, in honor of my Grandma, I am going to share her recipe for Milk Pie!
1 frozen pie crust
1 cup sugar
3 TBSP flour
pinch of salt
1.5 cans of evaporated milk
Cinnamon to taste
4 pats of butter
Heat oven to 350º. Place pie crust on a cookie sheet (just in case of spills, this pie is liquid and spills will happen). In pie crust, mix by hand all dry ingredients, making sure there are no lumps left. Once complete, pour in the evaporated milk. Place pats of butter on top of pie, then sprinkle with cinnamon (I prefer to cover the top of the pie with cinnamon). Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes. Pie is complete when you insert a knife in center and get a custard like substance.
In the late 90’s I spent some time it the basement of my father’s house looking through an old metal file box that had belonged to my grandma (Ida Jaeger O’Connell). There were many items in the file box that are worthy of discussion. But, the one that touched me the most is grandpa’s (A. Larry O’Connell) wallet. It was made of a hard plastic and when I held it, I could feel the past with in. The past of a poor man, who loved his family. The only items remaining in the wallet were pictures of his daughter and a few of the grandchildren.
What really touched me was that grandma saved his wallet. One can only assume it was for sentimental value. It was obviously not worth anything.
As I held his wallet, I thought about many things. But one thing that I really thought about was how far our family has come. Grandpa never owned land,he always lived in apartments or with other family members. When he died, my dad purchased his first home, it was a two flat. An apartment for us and one for grandma upstairs. Convenient babysitter upstairs and he was close enough to help her with what she needed. From that house, we moved to a single family home that had room for all of us. The family moved a few more times, always to a bigger home. When I think of the house dad lives in know, I wonder if his parents would be proud of how he changed the life of our family?