I find myself with quite a lot of cider from this past fallâ€™s pressing. I also have more maple syrup than weâ€™ll use and, in spite of continuing snow squalls and cold weather, sugaring time is around the corner. I want to use the cider and syrup up, so today Iâ€™m making a Hard Times Cider Pie.
Hard Times Cider Pie
Boil up 7 cups of cider until it reduces to 1 cup. This will take a while. Use the time to make a single pie crust and set it aside. When the cider has reduced, simmer Â¾ cups of cider with 1/3 cups sugar and 1/3 cup maple syrup until the sugar dissolves. Pour this syrup into a heat-proof bowl and add 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt and mix until the butter has melted.
Separate four eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl, and the whites in another. Beat the 4 egg yolks lightly. Temper them by slowly adding the syrup, a teaspoon at a time, taking care not to curdle the eggs. Continue to add the syrup until you have a smooth, mixture.
Now beat the egg whites with a perfectly clean, grease-free whisk until they form soft peaks, then fold the whites into the syrup/yolk mixture until the whites disappear. Pour batter into the crust and bake in a preheated, 350Â° degree oven until the filling is set.
Note: This recipe sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you start, it goes quickly.
Why This Pie?
This isnâ€™t just a nostalgic â€œRecipe of the Week.â€ I grew up very poor. My father used to joke that my mother could feed the six of us three good meals from one scrawny chicken. I inherited some of my momâ€™s ability to make a good meal out of very little, a skill that comes in mighty handy during hard times.
Itâ€™s easy to forget our history. We have spent decades, since the early 1950s, in a period of uncommon stability. The truth is that human history has been marked more by periods of war and famine, disease and catastrophes.
In spite of challenges, woman (itâ€™s nearly always women) have tried to make their meals as tasty and nutritious as possible using what was abundant and available. Not that our ancestors had no imported foodstuffs; they did. But those foodstuffs were very expensive and used sparingly.
Most of us donâ€™t need extra calories but that might change in hard times. Desserts that take advantage of ingredients that are easily accessible can add those calories, some nutritional punch and a hint of special to an otherwise pretty pedestrian meal.
I live in the Northeast and have quite a collection of regional cookbooks. The old ones have lots of recipes like this, recipes that use the abundance of what our local farms had to offer. If you haunt the tag, garage and library sales youâ€™re very likely to find great cookbooks for less than a dollar. Amish and Mennonite cookbooks often provide a wealth of information on using plain food to make fabulous meals. I have a number of these and they tend to be my go-to source for inspiration when I need to feed a crew from the foods I have on hand.