I always appreciate a book where you can immediately fall into it and remain completely immersed to the end - part of the joy of reading, for me, is leaving your own world/viewpoint/experiences and hanging out in someone else’s for a while. The powerful storytelling in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees did that for me.
During a hot South Carolina summer in 1964, Lily Owens is about to turn 14. Propelled by a fuzzy recollection of the day her mother died and desperate to know more, she sets off on a haphazard journey from home with Rosaleen, a black woman who has become her stand-in mother. Their immediate safety may be Rosaleen’s driving force, but Lily’s search for clues about her mother’s existence brings them to Tiburon.
It is there - in a pink house where three beekeeping sisters live and make their living on Black Madonna Honey - that they find solace and security. As Lily learns about beekeeping from the eldest sister August, she also begins to discover who she is.
Given the title, I anticipated I would be pairing this book with something honey-related. While I certainly could have, it didn’t feel right the more I got into the story. One of August’s younger sisters is named May; May has a fondness for bananas but she also has some quirks about them.
May had to have a banana every morning, and this banana absolutely could not have a bruise on it. One morning I watched her peel seven bananas in a row before she found one without a bad place. She kept tons of bananas around the kitchen, stoneware bowls chock-full; next to honey, they were the most plentiful thing in the house.
With an abundance of open bananas lying around, Rosaleen was forever making banana desserts - including banana cream pie. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten a banana cream pie, but I certainly hadn’t made one before this. I didn’t want to make one out of boxed pudding, so I looked for and came upon an Old-fashioned Banana Cream Pie recipe from Genius Kitchen.
Once my crust was baked and set to cooling, I began making the pie filling. In a large saucepan, I scalded the milk (which I learned to do here). Then, I mixed together the sugar, flour and salt in a different saucepan and gradually added the slightly-cooled scalded milk. I stirred constantly over medium heat until thickened and covered it for two more minutes.
In a bowl, I added a bit of the mixture (several spoonfuls) to three beaten egg yolks, until they were well-blended. Then, I poured that into the hot mixture in the saucepan and cooked for another minute. I removed it from the heat, added the vanilla and butter, and allowed the pudding to cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, I readied my crust by slicing and filling it with three bananas.
I poured the slightly warm pudding over the bananas, filling the crust, and let it come to room temperature before serving.
I had some issues getting pure “slices” to come out, similar to my potato peel pie incident of a couple of weeks ago. (This remained an issue, even after refrigerating overnight, so I’m not sure why.) While it wasn’t particularly photogenic, it still tasted delicious. I would absolutely recommend this recipe to someone with a few ripe bananas on-hand. May would approve!
Old-Fashioned Banana Cream Pie
- 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
- 3 cups whole milk
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 bananas
- Have baked 9-inch pie shell ready.
- In a large saucepan, scald the milk.
- In another saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the scalded milk. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
- Cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.
- In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.
- Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
- Let sit until lukewarm.
- When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
- If desired, make a meringue (you'll have 3 leftover egg whites) to top the pie, or just let the pie cool until serving.
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