Hi, friends. Got time for a story?
The other day, I was driving somewhere and out of nowhere, had this memory of sugar cream pie. Two points if you’ve heard of this, and bonus points if you’d had it. I feel like this is one of those homespun, Western Ohio-type of recipes that few city-folk have ever had. Maybe I’m wrong…but, anyway, I had this strange hankering and decided to make one. Luckily, my mom had given my brother and me lots of old recipes for Christmas one year in a book and for some reason, she included three versions of sugar cream pie.
The first one came from my Grandma “Doc,” my grandma on my Dad’s side. Her real name was Helen, but my grandpa’s nickname was Doc and everyone knew him as such. His real name was Ralph, but no matter. He was Doc to everyone. I suppose the nomenclature of my family isn’t important to this story so I’ll get on with it. Grandma Doc was a superb pie-baker. Kind of a cranky lady, but really good at making pies. So Mom included hers in the book of recipes she gave us, and naturally I chose this one out of the three on offer. It flopped. Big time. And I don’t know what I did wrong.
After scraping the whole thing into the sink and fairly crying over it, I decided to try number two in line. Now this one comes with a great story. There was this diner called Flo’s at the corner of State Route 12 and U.S. 224 in Alvada, Ohio. Ever heard of it? Look it up on a map, I dare ya. The street view on Google Maps will crack you up. So anyway, there was this place called Flo’s, which–before it burnt down and was replaced with a second-rate version of itself–served truckers their pie and coffee and even offered showers and beds upstairs. (It was really called Flo’s, ya’ll. I couldn’t make that up.) My mom waitressed there through college, and she got this sugar cream pie recipe from a trucker. He apparently had a square jaw and buck teeth, but a great smile. He wrote his recipe out on a paper placemat–which my mom still has–and she copied it for me here:
Despite needing to bake it for much longer than this said (which might be due to my oven, which I have always suspected to run cooler than some), this one turned out perfectly. So, this may seem silly…I actually think my family thought I was nuts…but I teared up a little when I took a bite. It tasted exactly like my childhood. I haven’t had sugar cream pie in probably 25 years. But when I inexplicably thought of it the other day, I had a distinct memory of its taste and texture. Funny how that happens. It’s been said often that food evokes one’s memories, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this phenomenon quite so vividly as I did with this pie. I remembered my Grandma and Grandpa Doc’s garden and the way their kitchen looked; the counter at Flo’s; and the way the trucks sounded on the highway when I was falling asleep at night. I imagine my mom, young and with an apron on, talking to the trucker about the pie options for the day, and how he–probably a little homesick–told her all about his family’s sugar cream pie recipe. I love that my mom–then a college student–stuck it in her apron pocket and kept it. These days, do you think that would happen?
Anyway, I really enjoyed making this after so many years. I hope if you haven’t tried it before, you’ll give it a go.