Like all of us, Jerri’s sister-in-law, Joyce, had a couple of little quirks that give her a special place in our memories. For instance, Jerri and I have occasional attacks of neatness, but for Joyce neatness was a chronic condition. She disliked clutter. When my T-shirts are no longer suitable for polite company, Jerri turns them into cleaning rags. Joyce took worn clothes to a recycling center. There were no rags in her home.
If you wanted to reread a story from last Sunday’s newspaper, you would be out of luck in Joyce’s household. When a meal was over, she got up and did the dishes rather than stalling an hour in the hope that some kitchen elves would do the job for her. They have never lent me a helping hand, but one would think that they would have left her kitchen spotless if she had only given them the chance. Like the cobbler in the story, she was a very generous Christian lady.
Her daughter, Lori, told us of another of Joyce’s quirks a few years ago. Every year when the family sat down for dinner on Christmas Day, there was a cut glass bowl filled with beautiful sweet canned Mandarin oranges on the table. Joyce never explained why she served canned oranges on Christmas Day, and Lori never asked. As you might expect, she grew up thinking that they were an expensive gourmet treat.
Lori learned otherwise when she moved away from home and started doing her own shopping. “You can even buy them at Kroger’s!” she said, “and they’re cheap! Maybe they weren’t when Mom and Dad were first married,” she mused as she told Jerri the story. It’s a mystery. My guess is that Joyce’s mother made sure that Mandarin orange slices were a part of Christmas dinner. Tevye, the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof, has the explanation: “Tradition!!”
There is, however, no mystery about why Joyce made made Angel Pecan Pie. She didn’t like to make pie crusts. Angel Pecan Pie makes its own crust. It is absurdly easy to make and is just plain delicious. Jerri asked for the recipe and Joyce obliged. It is an attractive pie suitable for serving to special guests and it is so easy to make that your family can enjoy it often. Jerri likes it because it is not as sweet as traditional pecan pie. I like anything covered with whipped cream.
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Dash of salt
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup whipping cream
Another dash of salt
1 heaping T granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300º and grease a nine-inch pie plate. Beat four egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the dry ingredients together and blend in the egg whites. Spread the batter in the pie plate and bake the pie for thirty minutes. A toothpick inserted near the center of the pie will come out clean when the pie is done.
Remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cool thoroughly on a rack, then refrigerate it for at least a couple of hours.
Whip a cup of whipping cream flavored with a generous tablespoon of sugar, a dash of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla. Spread the whipped cream on the pie and refrigerate until you serve it.