Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

It’s a fact of life that nothing is so good that pure maple syrup doesn’t make it better.
And where I live, March is the time of the year when tree sap begins to flow and maple syrup is made.
It also just happens to be the time of the year when hens start laying again and eggs are plentiful.

Oatmeal Pie

A Slice of Oatmeal Pie

Oatmeal pie is an extremely sweet pie.
So sweet in fact that some people can’t tolerate it.
But those who do enjoy oatmeal pie can never seem to get enough. Many compare this pie to pecan pie and there is a similarity. The oatmeal gives the pie the effect of ground nuts and the bottom of the pie is gooey.

What follows is a very old recipe from the 19th century.
The recipe was adjusted for modern cooks in 1966 by one of my personal cooking heroes, the late Beatrice Vaughan.
So if you’ve never tasted real oatmeal pie before, or are curious about 19th century Yankee cooking, here’s my recipe based on Mrs.Vaughan’s.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

  • ¼ cup of softened butter
  • ½ cup of white cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (corn syrup may be substituted but will not give the same flavor)
  • 3 eggs beaten in one at a time
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 unbaked 9-in. pie shell

Cream the soften butter with the sugar. Add the salt, cinnamon and cloves and mix completely. Next stir in the maple syrup, and then beat in the eggs thoroughly one at a time. Stir in the oatmeal and pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake in an oven for about 1 hour at 350F°. Cool completely before serving.
Serve with black coffee and a dollop of whipped cream if you’re really feeling decadent.

*Recipe notes
If you use anything larger than a standard 9-in pie shell you’ll need to double the recipe so that the pie filling fills the shell. I found that with a large or deep dish pie plate the filling is only about 1” thick and looks skimpy.

Beatrice Vaughan’s recipe uses only pure maple syrup. I’m sure because she was from Vermont, she would never have considered using anything else but pure Vermont maple syrup. I use 100% maple syrup from Northwest Pennsylvania or Ohio with good results. Maple syrup from New York or Canada also has a good reputation.

Some modern recipes for oatmeal pie use corn syrup. I’m sure the substitution came about due to the cost of pure maple syrup. If you use corn syrup or maple flavored pancake syrup the taste is not the same.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Pie

Bread Machine White Bread Recipe

After a lifetime of his mother’s baking, and more than 25 years with me, homemade is pretty much the only bread my husband will eat. He’s a spoiled man for sure.
Usually I pick one or two days a month to batch bake. On those days I’ll bake 6 loaves of bread and make cookies and other flour goods. I freeze the bread and baked items so we seldom run out. But this spring I became involved in a couple of projects that left me little time and absolutely no desire to be in the kitchen.
So for a few of weeks I completely stopped baking. We eventually ran out of homemade bread.

So what to do? I bought a loaf of bread at the grocery store. No big deal right?
First off I was shocked at the price. Almost $4 a loaf! My goodness! I had no idea store bread was so expensive. And if the price of bread wasn’t bad enough, the taste, smell and texture was terrible. We couldn’t finish the loaf.
I ended up feeding the store bought bread to to the pigs. But while watching the pigs hog down the bread I had an “aha” moment.
It occurred to me that lots of people have been ditching their expensive bread machines and going Low Carb and Paleo.
Seems every time I go into the Salvation Army Thrift Store I see at least one perfectly good bread machine.

And sure enough later that day I had my pick of three decent bread machines at the local thrift store.
Problem solved. I stay out of the kitchen and the Mr. gets a fair substitute for what his mother and I do best.
It was the smartest money I spent this year. At the cost per loaf even if I had to pay full price for a bread machine it would have been money well spent.

Bread Machine

Thrift Store Bread Machine

Thought you might like to see the bread machine recipe I use for white bread.

Recipe for 2 Pound Loaf of Bread Machine White Bread

Add the following ingredients in order:

  • 1Cup of Warm Water
  • 1/3 Cup of Evaporated Milk (can also use regular fluid milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 1/4 Cups of All -Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of White Sugar (I use cane sugar because it’s none GM)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt

Gently stir the dry ingredients together with a fork taking care not to mix the water or butter mix into them. Create a small well in the flour mixture and then add

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons of Active Dry Yeast

Choose the 2 lb. loaf setting with a medium crust. Start the machine according to the  manufacturer’s directions for your bread machine. What could be more simple?

Bread Machine White Bread

A Loaf of Bread From a Bread Machine

Recipe For Apple Pie

Here’s my recipe for Apple Pie. There are two methods presented here: a raw filling and a heated filling.
The raw pack is presented first and is the faster method. The heated pack is essentially the same as the raw pack. Details for the heated filling follow in the notes below.

Apple Pie

A Slice of Apple Pie

The heated apple filling is probably the superior pie and always looks better. If you get a chance to try both and let me know what you think.

  • 7 to 10 firm medium size apples – peeled, cored and sliced. It’s nice to mix a couple different varieties of apples when making an apple pie. Cortland and Northern Spy apples are my favorite for pies. But Granny Smith, Jonagold, Newton Pippin, Winesap or Honey Crisp are all good for baking.
  • 1 Cup Cane Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice and Pulp From 1 Medium to Small Size Fresh Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

Double Pastry for a 9″ or 10″ pie plate or tin


Step 1

Make The Pastry

Make a pastry for a double crust pie.
Please check here if you need a crust recipe or don’t know how to make one.
Wrap the pie pastry in wax paper or plastic wrap and set it in the cooler or refrigerator while you work on the apple filling. Pastry needs to be kept cold.

Step 2

Prepare the Apples

The lemon juice will help prevent the apples from turning an ugly brown. Lemon also adds a good tart flavor to the pie.
Cut, squeeze and remove the seeds from the lemon. If you run hot water over the lemon or place the lemon into a cup of hot water for a minute or so, and then rub it between your palms before you cut it, the lemon will give more juice.

Fresh Lemon Juice

Juicing A Fresh Lemon

Add the lemon juice with pulp to a very large bowl. You will put the apple slices into the bowl while you are working on them, so make sure the bowl is big enough.
Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and slicing them into ½ inch slices. A mechanical apple peeler and corer works well for this.

But an old-fashioned paring knife and apple corer will get the job done too.

A Peeled Apple

Peeled Apple Ready To Be Cored & Sliced

As each apple is peeled, cored and sliced, place it into the large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the apples after each addition to insure that all apple slices get their fair share of lemon juice.
Step 3
Mix the Apple Coating
In a separate large bowl combine the sugar, flour, corn starch, salt, and cinnamon and apple cider vinegar.
Mix it well with a fork until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

Mixing Coating Over Apples

Mixing Coating Over Apples

The mixture will be brown and crumbly.
Turn the apples into the bowl a few at a time and mix with a wooden spoon to coat them.

Step 4
Roll Out the Pastry For The Bottom Crust
I always use wax paper when rolling out my pie crusts. But you may prefer a well-floured board, counter top or pastry cloth.

Roll out the bottom crust taking care that you don’t stretch it or over work it. Keep the rolling-pin and pastry dough well dusted with flour to prevent the pastry dough from sticking. Line the pie plate and allow about 1 ½ – 2 inches of pastry dough to overhang.
Step 5
Add Apples
Fill the pie pan with the coated apples.

Apples Fill Pie Pan

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

The first picture in this section depicts raw pack apples. The second picture with the butter pats depicts the hot pack.
If you look carefully you will notice a difference. The same amount of apples are present in both pies, but the heated pack apples take up less space.

Evenly dot small bits of butter across the top for either type of filling.

Doting Mixture With Butter

Dotting Apple Filling With Butter

Step 6
Roll Out the Top Crust
You’ll need to make the top crust wider than the bottom crust.
That’s because the apples will be heaped up in the pie pan. It takes a larger top to cover them.
Put the top crust on the pie, trim the crust evenly (I use scissors) and turn the edges under to seal the pie. You can crimp or flute the edges with your fingers. A spoon, fork tines or the handle of a butter knife also works well.
I usually cut a few air holes in my pie tops or use a pie bird to help vent the stem.

Pie Bird In Action

Pie Bird Helps To Vent The Pie

If you want to prevent the edges of the crust from over browning or burning, place thin strips of foil around the crust and remove the foil during the last 10 -15 minutes of baking. A commercial pie shield also works well. I don’t usually do this with a lard crust. But for a crust made with butter or Crisco it can be a good idea.

Also, you may want to place a cookie sheet on the rack under the pie while it is baking. Sometimes the pie will bubble over and leave a pretty good mess on the oven floor. It’s easier to clean a cookie sheet than an oven.
Step 7
Bake the Pie
Bake the pie for 40 – 50 minutes in a hot oven until nicely brown.
400F° is just about right.
Sometimes a really big apple pie will require more time in the oven.
Once the pie is done, remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Pie Cooling

An Apple Pie Cooling On A Wire Rack

*Apple Pie Tips & Hints*
*With apple pies, very often there will be a hollow space between the apples and the crust. It can be a disappointment for novice pie makers. But don’t worry you did nothing wrong.
There’s a fix for it.
The hollow space forms because the apples gradually shrink while they are baking, but the crust bakes firm where it started. The amount of hollow head space inside an apple pie can be partly controlled by par cooking the apples before adding them to the unbaked bottom crust.
Follow the recipe exactly as above, except in Step 3 mix the apple coating in a large kettle or pot and add the apples to it instead of a large bowl.
Next heat the apples on a very low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Stir the apples often so they don’t stick.
Take care that you don’t overcook them or you could end up with applesauce if you’re not careful.
After the apples have cooked and soften a bit, put the still hot apples in the pie pan. Cover with the top crust and proceed with the recipe. The baking time will be shortened and there’s sometimes a tendency for the pie to bubble a little more. I usually will make my pies by this method if I’m hungry for compliments, or appearance and presentation is important. It takes more time – but it’s worth it.
*Some cooks will brush the top of the pie with egg white or milk to make the crust soft or shiny.
*Place pies on a rack to cool and the bottom will not be soggy.
* A fluted pie pan makes a scalloped edge pie which is very nice for entertaining. Scalloped pie dishes are pricey but worth it if you make lots or pies or need to impress.

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a favorite around here. My husband likes it for breakfast and I like it anytime. It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover rice.
There are many different variations of rice pudding found around the world. The recipe below is classic American farmhouse cuisine.


Ingredients For Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

  • Heaping ⅓ Cup of Cooked Rice
  • 6 Eggs
    • ¾ – 1 Cup of White Cane Sugar
  • 1 Quart Whole Milk
  • ½ Cup of Raisins
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Pre-Heat oven to 350°.
In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar and milk. Beat well with a rotary mixer, whisk or by hand vigorously. Take care that the sugar is well blended.

Blend Well

Blend Eggs, Milk & Sugar Well

Place the cooked rice in a 1 ½ – 2 quart casserole dish or into small custard dishes. Sprinkle raisins over the rice.

Pour the milk mixture over the rice. Stir rice and milk mixture very gently with a fork to help unstick any clumps of rice. Evenly sprinkle nutmeg over the top. Place casserole or dishes in a shallow pan of water to bake. Bake for about 1 hour or until a table knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Rice Pudding

A Bowl Of Rice Pudding

How To Make Foolproof Crock Pot Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is actually very simple to make. And if you ask me the easiest and most dependable way to make yogurt at home is with an electric crock pot.
All you need is crock pot, a thermometer, some fresh milk and a little bit of the proper type bacteria.

Greek yogurt is a favorite of mine and is also very easy to make. Greek yogurt is simply ordinary yogurt that has most of the whey drained from it.

Milk & Electric Crock Pot

A Gallon of Milk & Electric Crock Pot

There are many recipes on the internet for homemade yogurt. Some of them actually make what I would consider yogurt – but plenty of them don’t.
Homemade yogurt does not have the same firm consistency as store-bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt is a fake out and is thicken and stiffen with pectin, milk solids and other thickeners.

Homemade yogurt created without added pectin or powdered milk will have a top layer of whey that makes the yogurt thinner.
Whey is the natural liquid by-product of cheese and yogurt making and is easy to strain off.

Yogurt & Cranberries

Fresh Homemade Yogurt With Cranberries

The important thing to remember about homemade yogurt is that if you want to make it thicker, the whey needs to be strained from the yogurt . The more whey that is removed from the yogurt the firmer the final product. In fact if you strain off most of the whey from yogurt, you’ll end up with a delicious soft cheese known as “yogurt cheese”.
The crock pot method of making yogurt produces very dependable results. It is pretty much foolproof as long as you follow the directions faithfully. If you want success – don’t improvise.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • 1 Gallon of Milk (4 Quarts) – Doesn’t matter what type of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Starter Yogurt – The bacteria for the yogurt has to come from somewhere. If you don’t already have a starter you’ll need some yogurt. It can be any type of yogurt but must have both of the active and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. Read the label to make sure you have the right starter bacteria.
  • Electric Crock Pot
  • Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
  • A Whisk or Fork
  • A Colander
  • Muslin, Plyban Cheesecloth or Some Type of Woven Cloth
  • Bath Towel or Woolen Scarf
  • Oven or Other Draft Free Warm Location

Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk slowly until the milk is between 180°F – 190°F. It is vital to heat the milk to at least 180°F.

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

The milk must be made sterile and free from all types of bacteria. The only bacteria you want growing in the milk will be the lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles that you will purposely add when you inoculate the milk. This is an especially important step with raw milk.

* Note to raw milk people*
You have to get rid of the other bacteria if you want consistent and dependable results when making yogurt. Competing bacteria can be a problem.

Allow the milk to cool naturally and undisturbed to a temperature of 110°F. It takes about 3 ½ to 4 hours to cool to that temperature. It is critical to the success of the yogurt that you catch the milk at 110°F. 110°F is the ideal temperature for inoculating yogurt.

100°F IsThe Ideal Temperature

100°F Is The Ideal Temperature

A temperature any higher may kill the added bacteria. And if the temperature is too cool the bacteria will not thrive.

If you are using non-homogenized or raw milk there will be a skin that has formed on the top of the milk.

Milk Skin On Milk

A Milk Skin Will Form On Non-Homogenized Milk

The skin should be carefully and completely removed. If you don’t remove all of the milk skin you’ll get nasty hard flakes in your yogurt.

Remove about 1 cup of warm milk into a separate cup or small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt to the cup of milk.

Inoculating Milk

Inoculating Warm Milk With Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus

Do not add any extra yogurt. 2 tablespoons are all you need.
The bacteria must have adequate room to grow and won’t grow properly if overcrowded. With a fork or a whisk, gently but thoroughly stir the starter yogurt into the cup of milk to inoculate it.

Next pour the inoculated milk back into the crock pot and stir in gently going from side to side. Do not stir in circles – use a careful and slow up and down lifting motion moving across the length of the crock.

 Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Gently Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Carefully lift the covered crock out of the electric base and place it into a cool oven. Lay a bath towel or woolen shawl snugly around the crock and leave it undisturbed overnight or for about 10 – 12 hours.

 Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

Crock Of Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

You want the milk to stay nice and warm.
An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. If you open the oven door you may have a yogurt failure.

After 10 or 12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the top.

Proper Yogurt Consistency

Proper Yogurt Consistency After 12 Hours

If you like a thicker yogurt you’ll need to drain or carefully pour off the whey.
The way that I do it is by pouring the yogurt into a colander lined with Plyban cheesecloth that has been set on top of a large pot. A rectangular piece of muslin or a clean dish towel can be used. I don’t like to use regular cheesecloth because the weave is too sleazy and open. If I have to use regular cheesecloth I triple the layers.

Straining The Whey From Yogurt

Straining The Whey From Yogurt Using Plyban Cloth

As the whey drains away from the yogurt it is collected into the pot and can be used later for another food purpose or fed to chickens or pigs.

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and about 3 or 4 hours to make Greek style yogurt. Once the yogurt is the thickness that I want, I lift the cheesecloth from the colander and carefully dump the yogurt into a covered dish or large container.

Finished Homemade Yogurt

Finished Homemade Yogurt

I store my yogurt in a refrigerator or a cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some people prefer a tart yogurt and do leave it out at room temperature for over 24 hours. The longer yogurt stays at room temperature the more tart it will become.
I try to always remember to save a little bit back so I have starter for the next batch.

Recipe For Fresh Blueberry Pie

This year has proved to be an exceptional year for blueberries. The berries are large and the bushes are positively loaded. I thought you might be interested in the blueberry pie recipe that I use. It’s an older recipe and my personal favorite.

Blueberry Pie

A Slice of Fresh Blueberry Pie

It’s not too sweet and is pleasantly tart.
The secret is in the fresh squeezed lemon juice and pat of butter.
Preheat oven to 400°F

  • 4 ½ Cups of blueberries
  • 1 Cup pure cane sugar
  • ¼ Cup of instant tapioca
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Gently but thoroughly mix the blueberries, sugar, tapioca and lemon in a large bowl. Set the blueberries aside for about 15 minutes.
While waiting prepare a double layer pastry crust for a 9” pie pan.
Line the pie pan with the bottom of the pastry crust and then add the blueberry mixture.

Making Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie In The Making

Dot the top of the berry mixture with the fresh butter.
Apply the top crust and seal well and crimp or flute the edges.

Cut a few slits in the pie crust or use a pastry bird or a pie bird pie dish to vent the steam.
Bake at 400°F for 45 to 50 minutes.
Cool and then enjoy!

Pie Bird

Pie Bird Helps To Vent The Steam From The Pie

Recipe For Plain Pastry Using Lard

It’s my opinion that the very best plain pastry for fruit pies and beef pies is a pastry crust made with lard and not vegetable shortening, oil or butter. A pastry made with lard is flaky and easy to work with.

What follows below is the plain pastry recipe that I use most often. Give it a try and maybe it will become a favorite in your kitchen too.
Ingredients for a Two Crust 9” Pie

  •  2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of clean white lard
  • 6 tablespoons of ice water

Sift the flour twice on a piece of wax paper or large plate before measuring.

Sift Flour Twice

Sift Flour Twice Before Measuring

Gently spoon the sifted flour into a measuring cup using a large spoon. Level the measuring cup off with the back-end of a table knife or spatula.

Measured Flour

Flour Is Measured Then Leveled In A Cup

Place the sifted flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Stir to mix the salt and flour.
Next measure the lard into a ½ cup measure. Press it firmly into the cup so that there are no air pockets.

Add Lard

Add Lard To The Flour & Salt Mix

Add the lard to the flour and salt mix.

Rub the lard into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter. Keep rubbing until the flour crumbs are about the size of lentils or rice.

Lard Rubbed Into Flour

The Lard Is Rubbed Into The Flour By Hand Until It Resembles Course Crumbs

Add the ice water very gradually about 2 teaspoons at a time. Mix well with a fork.

Add Ice Water

Add The Ice Water Slowly

Only mix enough water so that the pastry dough can be easy picked up with your hands and not stick to the sides of the bowl. Divide the pastry dough into 2 balls.

Divide Into Balls

Divide Into 2 Equal Size Balls

Take care not to overwork the dough. Overworked pastry dough results in a tough crust. If the day is warm or the kitchen hot, place one of the balls in the refrigerator or cooler while you work on the bottom layer of the pie crust. Cool dough is the secret to easier dough handling and rolling out. A marble rolling pin can be helpful when the weather is hot or humid. The marble stays cool and is heavier than a wooden rolling pin.

On a piece of wax paper, pastry cloth or floured wooden board; gently roll out the bottom crust until it is just a bit larger than your pie pan. If the dough sticks at all, dust a little more flour on the rolling-pin and the board. Don’t be afraid to lift the pastry dough and turn it while rolling it out. Just don’t turn it over and roll it.

Roll Out Dough

Roll Out The Dough On A Well Floured Surface

Line the pan allowing the pastry to overhang the edges of the pan.
Add the pie filling.

Apples Fill Pie Pan

Filling Pie Pan With Prepared Apples

Roll out the top layer of the pie crust in the same manner but make it a little larger in diameter to allow for the extra area that the filling will take up.
Seal the two layers of pastry together by pressing them firmly but gently with your fingers. Trim off the top crust if necessary about ½” beyond the rim of the pie pan. Flute the pastry crust with either the edge of a spoon, fork, knife or your fingers.

Apple Pie With Flutted Top Crust

An Apple Pie Ready To Bake

Bake in a hot oven – 400°F to 450°F until the filling is done.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy.

Too Many Eggs & Impossible Pie

For people who keep backyard chickens or ducks, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing – especially in the spring.
That’s because this is the time of the year when small poultry flock owners are positively polluted with extra eggs.
But it’s a good problem to have.

A Slice of Impossible Pie

Impossible Pie

Early spring brings with extra eggs a wonderful opportunity to plan ahead.
When I have “too many eggs” I bake for the freezer or lay down eggs in a crock of water glass.
Pound cakes are one of my favorite ways to fill the freezer as are different types of cookie dough and baked cookies. Most cookie dough will freeze well and last up to 3 – 4 months when properly wrapped and frozen. Baked cookies when packed properly will store in the freezer about 2 -6 months without any change in flavor or texture depending upon the type of cookie.
So that means that the ginger snaps cookies I make this summer will be ready and waiting for me to defrost and serve at Halloween.

One recipe that uses eggs and is a favorite with my husband is Impossible Pie.
Impossible Pie is a quick mix dessert that is made in one bowl.
The recipe makes its own crust or bottom (not exactly a dry crust) and the center is a sweet custard with a coconut topping.

Impossible Pie reminds me a little of Coconut Cream pie or Rice Pudding made with coconut instead of rice.
It’s too sweet for my taste but many people like it.
Give it a try.
Maybe you’ll like it.
Either way you’ll be down 4 eggs – until you gather eggs again tomorrow.


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • In a large bowl combine

4 eggs
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut

  • Mix well with a hand beater or electric mixer.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into a buttered 10” or larger pie plate or casserole dish and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife comes clean when inserted into the center.Don’t try to use a smaller pie plate or dish with this recipe, because you’ll be sorry when you’re cleaning the bottom of your oven floor. The “pie” will puff up while it is baking and if the plate isn’t large enough it will spill over the sides.

Remove the pie when done and allow it to cool. I think Impossible Pie tastes best after it has been refrigerated.

Recipe For Shoo-Fly Pie or Pebble Dash

Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is good eating. And the Pennsylvania Dutch are known for their ability to “make do” and combine ordinary foods in special ways.
One of the better-known dishes inside and outside of Pennsylvania Dutch Country is Pebble Dash or Shoo-Fly Pie.

Dry Bottom Shoo-Fly Pie

Dry Bottom Shoo-Fly Pie

Shoo-Fly pie is a very old folk food and may have its origins in treacle tarts. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an Amish farm stand or roadside Amish bake sale that Shoo-Fly Pie wasn’t for sale.

In actuality Shoo-Fly or Pebble Dash aren’t really “pies” at all in the ordinary sense. They are more a type of fluffy molasses cake that just happens to be baked in a pie shell.
The recipe below makes a “dry bottom” shoo fly pie. Shoo fly pies can either be a “wet bottom” or “dry bottom”. Wet bottom shoo fly pie has as the name implies, a layer of moist molasses and sugar on the bottom of the pastry shell.
Dry bottom is the older type of Pebble Dash or Shoo-Fly pie.

Lard for the shortening of the pastry shell is the traditional way that this cake is made.

I personally don’t care for Shoo Fly Pie but my husband is very fond of it. If you love molasses and a not too sweet cake then this recipe is for you. It uses no eggs and can be made from ordinary pantry staples.

Shoo-Fly pie is traditionally served as a breakfast food with strong coffee in Pennsylvania German farmhouses. It is served slightly warmed and with whip cream in tourist traps.
Here’s the recipe that I use in case you should like to try it. It makes a single 9″ pie.

  • One 9″ Unbaked Pastry Shell (Traditional)
  • ½ Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 ¾ Cups of White Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter
  • ½ Cup of Very Hot water
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Cup of Dark Molasses
  • ½ Teaspoon of Salt

Mix the brown sugar, flour and butter together until crumbly. Remove ½ of the flour, butter & sugar mixture and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the hot water and baking soda until dissolved. Next add the salt and molasses. Add the water, soda, salt and molasses mixture to the flour, butter and sugar mixture. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell or into a 9″ greased pie pan.
Sprinkle the top with the ½ of reserved flour, sugar and butter mixture.
Bake at 350ºF for 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Serve for breakfast with strong coffee.

Shoo-Fly Pies

Shoo-Fly Pies


Pound Cake Recipe

I’m swimming in eggs. It’s a great problem to have especially after a long cold winter. During the winter my hens get discouraged from laying due to the short dark days and cold weather. I spent most of the winter scrounging for eggs. This past winter I actually pleaded with the hens to try a little harder to help out with my Christmas baking. But to no avail. Eggs are just naturally scarce in the winter. But come the spring – voila!
More eggs than I can handle. It’s all a part of the natural rhythm of agrarian life.
One of my favorite ways to make good use of lots of eggs is with rice pudding and pound cake.

Pound Cake

Sliced Pound Cake

Pound cake freezes very well and makes a wonderful last-minute hostess gift or quick dessert. If you need to use up lots of eggs here’s my recipe. I’ve provided 2 recipes – one for “normal” baking and one for “batch” baking.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 sticks butter softened
  • 6 eggs room temperature
  • ½ pint of yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and dust 2 loaf pans with flour.
    2. Sift flour twice onto wax paper before measuring. Measure out 3 level cups off flour and set aside.
    3. Cream the softened butter and sugar with an electric or hand mixer in a large bowl. Light and fluffy is what you’re going for.
    4. In another smaller bowl mix the baking soda into the yogurt and stir very well and set aside.
    5. Now add the eggs one at a time into the butter and sugar mixture (3 at a time for larger recipe) and mix well after each addition.

  1. Next, alternating add the sifted flour and yogurt into the creamed butter and sugar.
  2. Mix well between additions. Add the vanilla extract and mix slightly until well incorporated. Do not over mix.
  3. Pour into loaf pans and shake and tap sides of pan to level batter.

Bake for 1-½ hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool for about 5 – 10 minutes before removing from pan. This recipe makes 2 loaf pound cakes or 1 angel food or bunt pan type cake.

Pound cake will store well in the freezer for about a year – maybe a little less. Sour cream may be substituted for yogurt. Sour cream makes for a richer cake.
If using an angel food cake pan grease only bottom and funnel of the angel food pan. Do not grease the sides.
Below is the recipe using 2 dozen (24) eggs. It yields 8 regular size loaf cakes or 4 good size tube cakes.


  • 12 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 12 cups of white sugar
  • 2 lbs or 8 sticks of butter
  • 24 eggs
  • 1 quart of yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Prepare and bake as above.

Snow Pancakes

Ever hear of snow helping with breakfast or dinner? Well let me tell you what – new fresh snow makes the best pancakes! Pancakes or griddlecakes made with snow are very light and fluffy. And with all the snow that the eastern United States has been getting lately it’s a great opportunity to try this recipe.

Snow Pancakes

A Plate Of Snow Pancakes


Kids love to help make these and it’s a perfect snow day meal. Serve with sausage, real butter and maple syrup and you have a wintertime supper fit for a king!


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1-tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1-½ cups of milk

In a large bowel mix and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Combine the eggs and milk in another bowl.
Slowly add the milk & egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
Stir well and set aside. The batter will be thick.
Next grease your griddle and get it good and hot.
When the griddle is hot, quickly go outdoors and scoop up fresh snow.
Fold in 1-½ cups of new snow and mix well.

Mix In Fresh Snow

Folding In Fresh Snow

Cook the pancakes as usual.
Makes about 8 -12 large pancakes.

Tips For Snow Pancakes

Old snow won’t do. Use only fresh, light and newly fallen immaculate snow.

Fresh Snow

Clean Fresh Snow

Remember that pancakes are actually baked and not fried. So be careful about using too much grease. Lightly grease your griddle and get it really hot before you pour pancake batter onto it. To test if the griddle is hot enough, sprinkle a few drops of cold water onto it.

The water will dance on the griddle and disappear at once when the griddle is hot enough.
Over turning pancakes or griddlecakes will make them tough and leathery. Turn only once when tiny bubbles appear on the top.

Bubbles On A Pancake

Bubbles On Top Of Pancake

Old-Fashioned Ginger Snap Cookies

I made ginger snap cookies last week and thought you might be interested in my recipe.
My recipe is one that I’ve played with and developed over the last 15 years or so. It is based upon 3 older 19th century recipes. I have finally gotten my ginger snaps to the place where I’m happy with the result every time.

The secret to my cookies is ground white pepper. The pepper gives the cookie a bit more bite than some other recipes. Extra ginger is used in my recipe as is lard or bacon fat.

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snap Cookies Cooling In Kitchen

For years I resisted adding bacon drippings or lard to my ginger snap cookies because I thought it sounded gross and would taste “porky”. But after going through old-time cook books and recipes and seeing the addition of bacon drippings or lard time and time again, I decided to experiment. I’m glad I did.
The result is pleasing. If you have never added pepper, bacon fat or lard to your ginger snaps you might want to give it a try.

Makes about 4 dozen 2 ½ inch cookies

  • 4-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2-tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1-cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ – cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ – cup lard or clean strained bacon drippings
  • ½ cup dark molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and white pepper and sift into a medium size bowl. Sift again.
  • In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, lard (or bacon fat), molasses and eggs. Mix until very  light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients. Mix well.
  • Shape dough into a large ball. Dough will be sticky. Wrap in wax paper or plastic & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°
Lightly grease 4 or 5 cookie sheets
Shape dough by heaping rounded teaspoons into balls.
Dip tops of the balls into sugar.

Dipping In Sugar

Dipping Cookie Dough Into Sugar

Place the balls sugared side up 3 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake until the edges are set and the tops show cracks.
The centers may be left soft for a softer cookie if you like.
The baking time is about 8-10 for a soft cookie and 10–13 minutes for a crisper cookie.
Immediately remove from the cookie sheets from the oven and cool the cookies on a wire rack

Cooling Cookies

Cooling Ginger Snap Cookies

*Recipe Notes*
Black pepper may be substituted for white pepper.
½ cup of butter or vegetable shortening may be substituted for the lard or bacon drippings.