I wondered why on Earth would anybody want to schedule any kind of pie day in July. Certainly, the last thing I feel like doing on a muggy summer day is baking anything. Even odder is to bake one of the richest desserts imaginable for a summertime meal. But many holidays are illogical, anyway, so why not?
Eddie, my across the street neighbor, enjoys celebrating all the various “food day” commemorations. Last week he mentioned that National Pecan Pie Day was coming up soon. That’s when I asked the rhetorical question, not expecting an answer.
He reminded me that there are other ways to bake foods that do not involve heating up the kitchen. Eddie mentioned that a person could bake the Boy Scout method, that is, by using a dutch oven in a campfire. Such cooking is impractical in town, unless you own one of those outdoor fire pits. Eddie said he’d rather use his barbecue grill. He said the only requirement is that the grill must have a lid. Eddie gave me permission to pass along his method.
He said his conventional briquette grill works just fine, but if someone has a gas grill, that would be even better. He ignites the coals. While the coals settle into a good glow, Eddie prepares the ingredients for the pie according to one of his favorite recipes.
He prefers to bake pies in a cast iron skillet, but a person can use a sturdy metal pie pan in a pinch. Don’t forget to use an inch wide strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the pie if you use a regular metal pie pan, then remove the foil about 15-minutes before the pie is finished baking. When the pie is done, remove it from the grill and allow it to cool while you prepare the rest of your cook-out meal.
While you enjoy a slice of delicious pecan pie on this special holiday, you may wish to think about how this American dessert first began. Most of us believe that the pecan pie is a Southern specialty. I’ll make a bit of a concession to that, because the first pecan pies have a French pedigree. Newly arrived French immigrants in New Orleans adapted Old World nut recipes for use in their new home. They invented this addition to the list of Southern vittles.
Do you remember “Karo Syrup”? The traditional pecan pie recipe was adapted to the use of the product in order to promote sales of Karo Syrup. The Karo company claims that pecan pie was a discovery, in the 1930s, by the wife of a sales executive. She thought the recipe would provide a new use for corn syrup. That sounds like a typical story from a corporate marketing department. I’m guessing that Karo, or one of their competitors, probably selected today as National Pecan Pie Day.
There are recipes, healthy or not, on the web. If you’re more health conscious, there are corn syrup alternatives. For pecan pie filling I use: 100% pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil as a substitute for the Karo syrup. This is an expensive variant, so I only bake this pie, once per year.
If you’re short on time or ambition, you might opt for a frozen or prefab pie, instead. After all, July 12th is also “National Simplicity Day”.