I grew up in a Pennsylvania German household - not Amish, that's a specific religious order of the Mennonite church. My family has been in this country since the early 1700's; and, up until my generation, Pennsylvania Dutch was a common language in my family. Whenever the aunts and uncles wanted to keep secrets from the kids they spoke "Dutch" - a contrived form of a high German dialect.
And, yes, I grew up eating like a Pennsylvania German - the dietitian that I am cringes at the pillars of the Pennsylvania German diet - fat and starch, all the whole milk, butter and cream you can lay your hands on, wursts and sausages galore, smoked and cured meats, lard, pickled everything, no meal complete without a healthy dose of bread "und" butter, and we love our sweets. We ate what was local, and we made most everything from scratch - hmmmm - isn't this what the current day Slow Food Movement is all about? I guess we were ahead of our time!
Summer always sends me back to my Pennsylvania German roots - all of the fresh produce available brings back memories of some of my favorite meals. Corn was a staple in my house - I swear we had it as our vegetable 5 days out of 7, fresh, frozen, dried, and canned. I ate so much corn growing up I rarely eat it as an adult - except when it's at the peak of freshness - then once a year I will make a Corn Pie.
What is a Corn Pie - exactly that - a casserole dish lined with buttery good pie dough, filled with fresh corn, topped with slices of hard boiled egg and more butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and doused with whole milk, and finally topped off with the upper crust. Ahhh - all of the hallmarks of a decadent Pennsylvania German meal.
And no Pennsylvania German meal is complete with only one kind of pie - after all, if you're making dough you're bound to have leftover dough - you are mandated to use the leftover dough for a milk flitche. What is a milk flitche - basically a poor man's pie - it's a milk pie made with sugar (white or brown), more whole milk, and more butter. There is no hard or true recipe for a milk flitche, and I've yet to replicate my mother's delicious flitche - I'm working on it. Today I tried using granulated sugar and flour. These were never big pies - they were small, using up the leftover dough.
Here are my pies just about ready for the oven - colorful, eh? Nope, not really! Loaded with energy in the form of saturated fat and carbohydrate - you bet!
And here is my corn pie out of the oven and ready to dig into - once a year I need this treat - it takes me back. How about the tablecloth - take a closer look.
True Pennsylvania Germans have a way of speaking English that can send a grammar teacher's head spinning - I'll admit I still carry with me some of the idiosyncrasies of the language. I found this tablecloth years ago - it highlights some of our strange phrases.
Lost in translation:
Here's the milk flitche out of the oven. It looks a lot like my mother's but it doesn't taste like her's - back to the drawing board - less flour and switch to brown sugar. When this pie turns out right it is heaven - my brothers and I have fond memories of fighting over the last sliver.I didn't want to count on the milk flitche for dessert - it would be too risky if it failed. What to do - it's peach season - make a peach pie. This is my mother's famous peach pie with a crumb topping. What makes this different from other peach pies - the addition of eggs.
Leah's Peach Pie
Makes 2 nine inch pies
2 homemade 9 inch pie crusts (or you can cheat, but it won't be as good)
I used Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe, mixing it by hand with a pastry blender
8 - 10 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 - 4 Tbsp. granulated tapioca
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine the filling ingredients and toss to coat and distribute evenly. Pour into your homemade pie crusts.
- Combine the crumb ingredients, and with your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients to make the crumbs. Top the pies with the crumbs.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes.