Mock Pecan Pie and Making Do

It was covered dish night at Evening Prayer.  Because of the food allergies in our family, I try to prepare (okay, or purchase) food so my people can eat and be satisfied.  I was taking a crockpot of macaroni and cheese, so after I got that started I began thinking about what dessert to take.

Desserts are pretty important, because I don’t ever want my girl to feel slighted or left out.  And let’s face it, when you can’t have dessert, that can make you pretty sad.

I pulled out one of my Mama’s cookbooks–the last one she got,  I’m pretty sure.  I flipped through.  I thought about a cake and then about cookies.  I love to bake, but nothing was suiting me.  Then I flipped through and came to pies.

Pies.

I haven’t made one in quite a while.  I like to make pies, and if I wasn’t mistaken, I had two pie crusts in the freezer.

WIN.

Then one recipe caught my eye–“Mock Pecan Pie.”

Wow.  What?

Since the advent of food allergies, we haven’t had one of those.  IN YEARS.

I read through and was pretty sure I had all of the ingredients.  The story behind it was what reeled me in and sealed the deal though.

It usually is.

I found a story that told how during the Civil War folks were short on pecans.  Since their families loved pecans and pecan pie, the women did something that I grew up watching my Mama do.

They made do.

And improvised.

Beautiful.

I love stories of people who make incredible things happen even when maybe they don’t–at first glance–have all they need to have to bring it to fruition.  Those are the best stories.

As I began to mix the ingredients, I realized I didn’t have white Karo syrup.  Actually, in all honesty, maybe I shouldn’t say I didn’t have it–the truth would be that I couldn’t find it in my pantry.

Rather than give up the plan, inspired by the ingenuity of my foremothers and my own Mama, I looked up alternatives and used the right proportions of water and sugar and voila!  We had a pie mixed up and in the oven.

I usually don’t do that–take something I’ve never made before to a public gathering.  The fact that I did is a testament to the spirit of the people I sit with on Sunday nights.  They are adventurous and gracious and loving.  And I hope truthful.

Because they said it was wonderful.

The best part was the look on my girl’s face when I put a slice on her plate.  Dessert?  Yes, please.

I will make the extra effort every single time, just for that look on her face.

Tonight I’m thankful for the women and men on this journey who might be slowed down by the situation or by what they don’t have, but who are rarely stopped.  And never for very long. They make do and create beautiful things despite their hardships or lack of the traditional set of “tools” in their kit bag.  Most of all I’m thankful for a recipe found at just the right time and for the smile that pie put on my girl’s face.

May we all have a “make do/can do” spirit that makes this world a better, happier place for all of us.

“Pecan” pie from oatmeal?  Who’d a thunk it?  And, as my dear friend pointed out, add a few banana slices–it can make a pretty wholesome breakfast too. (Bread, oatmeal, eggs, fruit…..right?) Delicious and versatile.  It doesn’t get better than that.

And because I love y’all, here’s the recipe for you to give a try.

Oatmeal Pie (Mock Pecan)

2 eggs, beaten
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. melted margarine (1 1/4 sticks) *I used butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2/3 c. white Karo syrup
2/3 c. oatmeal (not instant)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake about an hour at 350 degrees.

Doris Jackson, Gracewood Baptist, Memphis, TN, from “Simply Southern” for the The Vashti Center in Thomasville, Georgia

(I doubled this and made two because #whynot. This is a case of more is better. Also I saw a recipe on-line that suggested adding coconut.  Oh my stars.  That’s next on the agenda–because I found two more pie crusts!  Life is good.)

Love to all.

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Prom Night

My girl.  Her Junior/Senior.  No, really, it’s her first and last prom.  It’s a long story but this is her junior and senior year, so this is it.  THE PROM.

She hemmed and hawed as we do about whether she would go or not.  In the end, she wrote her own check and bought her ticket.  Let me just tell you this is HUGE.  I am so proud of her.  She was intent on going and having a great time.  With friends.  I love that.  I didn’t have her courage or grace when I was her age.  The jury is still out on whether I have as much as she does now.

So we went shopping.  In the end she chose a beautiful dress that was just perfect.  From the GW Boutique.  I’m telling you, we love shopping there and can get the best bargains ever.  I was proud of her choosing to shop there and then so thrilled that she found THE DRESS.  (Aub, are you saying yes to the dress?  Why yes, yes I am.)

THE prom dress.....Take 1

THE prom dress…..Take 1

She then planned out her shoes, found them at a different location of the GW Boutique.  Yesterday she got some inexpensive stuff to do her nails and today she did them herself.  I am telling you, this girl can make a party out of nothing.  She just has that gift.

This afternoon she visited our sweet neighbor friend and talented hair stylist, and she got her hair did.  It was beautiful.  So we had all the puzzle pieces together, time to put them in place.  She started getting dressed and came to me to help her zip up.  Oh y’all.  I just about cry when I think back on it. Just a few hours ago.  My girl.  Beautiful.  I tried to zip but I didn’t have my hands in the right place.  So yeah.  This happened today.

This zipper is broke.....and so was my heart.

This zipper is broke…..and so was my heart.

I just pulled wrong and too hard.  I tried y’all.  Really I did.  We got out the needle nose pliers and I opened up the zipper to slide the other side back in.  Oh what a mess.  My heart sank as each minute ticked by.  She was about to miss her prom.  Because I.  Messed.  Up.  If I had been my Granny or my Aunt or my cousin even, I would have ripped that zipper out, HAD the right one here to replace it, and stitched it back in, and she still would have been on time.  Ahem.  No.  I heard my girl say, “It’s okay.  I just won’t go.  It will be all right.”

Not.  On.  My. Watch.

I love this child.  I try not to spoil her.  But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I’m going to let her miss her prom, after she made the decision to go and got her outfit together with such a good attitude and open heart.

I started barking orders.  Rare for me.  (Never mind, I can’t even type that with a straight face.)  So I said, “Get your dress shoes, take your boots just in case, throw on clothes, we’re going to a store, and this is GOING TO HAPPEN.”

And you know what?  It did.

We had a twenty minute ride to the closest store that might possibly maybe have a dress in stock.  She had called them, and we were hopeful.  In the meantime she was texting our other dear and treasured neighbor friend who was pulling dresses from her closet and texting pictures in case the shopping trip was for naught.  Have I mentioned I have great folks all around me?  Love my neighbors.  Yeah, these folks make that an easy commandment to follow.

We laughed as we made a game plan for our dash-in-try-on-buy-and-dash-out mission.  Failure was not an option.  Despite the rain, she kept her cool and her hair in place.  We walked in and saw a beautiful selection of dresses right away.  My eyes went to the chartreuse immediately (yeah, it’s kinda my thing) and Aub’s went to a cute black and white number with BLING. (And she can pull off some bling!)  She did indulge me and try on the chartreuse.  She thought she looked eight years old.  I thought she looked like Tinkerbell, and it was very cute.  But the black and white one…..her eyes lit up.  The price was right, and the pashmina wrap was on sale (needed–the rain had dropped the temp to 55 already!) and there was a cute pair of earrings to match.  And with that we were at checkout right on time.  We asked the cashier for a pair of scissors to snip the tags off.  (Remember my broken filter? Yeah, I told her about the zipper.)  “Oh when is your Prom?” she asked.   I checked the time.  “Ummm, now.”  Sweet young woman.  Headed to the same college as Aub next year–for nursing school.  She’ll make it.  I saw it in her eyes.

Aub changed in the car–avert your eyes people.  She kept it decent, and we were on our way.  She was only fashionably late, thank goodness.  And all was well.  I am so proud of her for turning her back on a bit of a rough start and setting off for an evening of fun with friends.  I love this girl.

My girl, turning her back on the past, and headed for the future.  You go girl!

My girl, turning her back on the past, and headed for the future. You go girl!

After seeing her off, I called my cousin.  I shared with him the evening’s events.  I told him how bad I had felt about not being able to fix the zipper.  “Eh, it’s good to know what you can and can’t do.”  And he is right.  I could have tried.  But many broken relationships and a month later, Aub might have had some semblance of a dress left.  When it comes to stitching and sewing up something that delicate when it’s that important with serious time constraints…..”ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Tonight I am thankful for a girl who dreams big, who is strong and wise and beautiful inside and out.  I am thankful that we were able to go to a store and get a backup dress.  I am thankful for our conversation and laughter and meeting a new person and hearing her story.  I am thankful for kind and gracious neighbors who are a part of the village helping me raise my children.  I am very thankful for great hair spray that withstands major humidity and many dress changes and tremendous stress.  Finally I’m thankful for the words of wisdom from my cousin–trying to make myself into something or someone I’m not…..yeah, FOR SURE ain’t nobody got time for that.

And just for fun, and with much appreciation, the original “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”