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Readers liked my gooseberry pie post, so here’s another tale about a summer pie – this time a banana cream pie I made myself.  You’ll see I had issues with it, just like with the gooseberry pie my future mother-in-law and I made together.

In 1969, Home Economics was a required class for girls in the ninth grade at Chief Joseph Junior High School in Richland, Washington. We spent a semester on cooking and a semester on sewing, with a smattering of child care and household budgeting thrown into the mix.

Banana cream pie picture from http://www.food.com/recipe/old-fashioned-banana-cream-pie-14979. A recipe can be found here also.

During the cooking semester, we made a banana cream pie. We worked together in groups of four in the Home Economics kitchens. My group’s pie turned out beautifully – the filling rich and smooth, topped with a lovely meringue, the crust flaky and light.

When I told my father about our pie, he started salivating. “I love banana cream pie,” he said. “Your mother has never made one.”

I don’t know why my mother didn’t make cream pies.  She made several pies a week, it seemed, but typically they were apple or cherry, sometimes peach or apricot. Occasionally, she made a strawberry rhubarb pie, but only one of the kids would eat it. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, she made pumpkin and mince meat. But I don’t recall her ever making a cream pie.

Throughout the remainder of my ninth grade year, my father teased me about making him a banana cream pie. I kept putting him off. I wasn’t sure I could repeat the culinary coup all by myself.

But as the school year drew to a close, I finally committed. “I’ll make you a banana cream pie for Father’s Day.”

On the Saturday before Father’s Day, I slaved all day in the kitchen.

I rolled out the crust, using my mother’s tried and true pie crust recipe. My crust didn’t look quite as nice as hers, and it split when I draped it over the pan. But I smoothed out the tears and patched the holes, before crimping the edges of the crust around the pie plate rim. Then I baked the shell to a light golden brown.

I mixed the milk and sugar and other ingredients for the custard. I stirred it constantly to keep it from scorching and to get out all the lumps.  Then I sliced the bananas and arranged them on the bottom of the baked pie shell, and poured the custard in on top, filling it to the pretty crimped edges.

I didn’t try to make meringue by myself, but I whipped cream till it peaked in stiff white curls, and spread the cream on top, with a few banana slices for decoration.

My pie looked fabulous – as nice as the Home Ec pie, even without the meringue.

Then I put the pie in the refrigerator to stay cool until dinner.

A couple of hours later, I happened to pass through the kitchen.  My two-year-old brother stood in front of the open refrigerator dipping his fingers into the smooth yellow custard of my pie, his cheeks already covered with whipped cream.

I shrieked.

Both my brother and I dissolved into tears.

Our loud cries brought my mother running.  She chastised my brother (though what good does it do to chastise a two-year-old?) and helped me repair the damage.

Our family of six ate the pie that evening – all of it.  If it was a little light on custard and a little heavy on bananas, no one complained. My father still raved about my Father’s Day gift.

But that experience – and a few others – soured me on making pies and on cooking generally. There isn’t much lasting recognition in cooking – you make it, and it’s gone. Where’s the enduring glory in that?

Sewing at least gave me a product that stayed around more than a day. And clothing was less likely to be destroyed by my baby brother.

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