This recipe comes from my great-grandmother Miranda, who lived in Moss Point, Mississippi. My great-grandfather was a preacher who was paid only what was left from the offering plate after rent and utilities were covered. Often there was very little or even nothing left for the family. Consequently, my great-grandmother fed a family of seven on little or no money. The family owned a cow and several chickens. These provided some milk and egg money, but more importantly, they provided food for the family’s table. It was important for Miranda to cook using what she had on hand. This simple pecan pie was often served for dessert. It’s an example of her resourceful cooking. The milk and butter came from the family cow, while the eggs were gathered from the chickens. However, most important to the pie, the pecans were harvested from the five pecan trees in the backyard. Two of these trees survive today.
It’s important not to overcook a pecan pie. As a boy, my grandfather, Edwin Meeks, became the expert on telling when the pie was properly cooked. He says the way to know that the pie has baked long enough is to gently shake the pan. If the pie jiggles in the center, it’s done. While this recipe originated in the deep south of Mississippi, it has become a family heirloom here in Appalachia. My grandmother, having learned the recipe from her mother-in-law, made this pie for every holiday or gathering. It is still made today for birthdays and picnics.
1 ½ cups dark Karo syrup
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ stick butter
1 cup chopped or halved pecans
Bring syrup, sugar, and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. Add the eggs, vanilla, and pecans. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. The pecans may also be sprinkled in the bottom of the pie shell and covered with the mixture. Bake at 300º for 60 minutes.