I love Thanksgiving. It is, barre none, the best day of the year. I get to cook all day (and heaven help the person who suggests that they help me cook, no way, no sir, no how, I GET TO COOK!) And people who I love hang around all day watching parades and football and playing board games. Best of all, there are no gifts exchanged. It’s just people, spending time together and eating a lot. Love it!
I am a staunch traditionalist. Although I am not foolish enough to believe that “traditional” Thanksgiving fare has anything to do with the first thanksgiving, I am addicted to the foods that are traditional in my family. None more than Grandma Celia’s Hickory Nut Pie. (Yes, the same Celia after whom we named our daughter, she was that awesome.) It’s a custard pie, not one of those syrupy pies that is too much like eating pure sugar and has a shelf life of 80 years.
Damned hard to find Hickory Nuts in Seattle. We order them online (eBay, if you can believe that,) but have successfully made this pie with hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios. Almonds are too mild and peanuts are gross.
Grandma Celia’s Hickory Nut Pie
1 Cup Hickory Nuts, coarsely chopped
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Honey, Molasses or Maple Syrup (totally optional, but yummy)
2 Large Eggs
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
9-inch Pie Crust (uncooked)
Preheat Oven to 350.
In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt
Add nuts and toss until coated.
In a saucepan, mix milk, eggs, vanilla (and honey, molasses, syrup if using it.)
Heat the liquid mixture until it is just barely starting to steam. (err on the side of less hot.)
Turn off the heat, pour the nut / flour mixture into the liquid mixture and swoosh everything around until it’s well mixed.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. (About 1/2 hour.)
The nuts will float to the top and there will be a nice thick custardy layer at the bottom. You absolutely, positively, MUST serve it with whipped cream (and it’s extra good if it is sweetened with maple syrup. really.)