My pecan heritage.

In my family, there is a famous story featuring my stepcousin and my grandma’s pecan pie. When my stepcousin was engaged, he once went to one of his fiancee’s family’s gatherings and was given a piece of pecan pie. Someone said, “Isn’t this just the best pecan pie you’ve ever tasted?” and he, being an honest sort of fellow, said, “Nancy’s mom [my grandma; his stepgrandma] makes the best pecan pie, but this is very good.” Luckily, whoever made the pie thought this was funny and not offensive.

While I have my grandma’s pecan pie recipe, I have never attempted to make it. For many years, I thought I did not like pecan pie. I don’t know if this was one of those things where I defined myself in opposition to my brother. It could possibly have been. You know: He likes pecan pie; I do not. I like pumpkin pie; he does not. He is athletic; I am not. I like tomato sauces; he does not. He is musically inclined; I am not. (Not all of these are true anymore, by the way.) Anyway, last year I had a little bit of my grandma’s pecan pie, and I realized . . . I like this. It’s not my favorite kind of pie, but I do like it.

Now, back when Mike gave me a book on pies for my birthday (subtext: “Make me a pie, woman!”), I saw a few recipes I was excited to try for Thanksgiving. One was a Triple-Layer Pumpkin Chocolate Pie and one was a Chocolate Brownie Pecan Pie. I made both of those pies for Thanksgiving this year. I wanted to make the Brownie Pecan Pie because I knew that I could never compete with my grandma’s pie, so, instead, I would make one with chocolate in it. This, you must admit, is a brilliant plan. Or it was a brilliant plan until I heard that my grandma made three (THREE!!!) pecan pies. I decided to go ahead and make my own, even though I knew it would be overshadowed by her superior effort.

And, indeed, there were entirely too many desserts at Thanksgiving, including the two pies I made and the one pie that Mike made. (There are only two of us, but we made three pies. What is WRONG with us?) Here is a picture of what my Thanksgiving pies looked like. Well, slices of them, anyway. I didn’t take pictures of the actual pies. (Which was probably a mistake. I just get TIRED of pictures.)


Look at the three layers of the pumpkin chocolate pie! Look how well-defined they are! Also, I made that crust! Also also, it was delicious. And it took a fair amount of work, so I really felt like I DID SOMETHING when I made that pie.

The brownie pecan pie didn’t come out of the pan as well for pictures (and, honestly, I think it could have cooked a little longer since I was using a disposable pie pan, but I didn’t consider that until it was too late), but it also tasted delicious, and I will be using that recipe again.

I also had some of my grandma’s pecan pie, and it was, of course, wonderful. I think I will attempt that recipe soon, just so I am sure I know how to make the best pecan pie in the world. (I’m just thankful that mine was passable.)

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