I was blessed to have been asked to review a new book, Keeping the Feast, scheduled to be released in February. The book is more of a memoir than anything, or maybe it is the diary of surviving one of the most difficult periods in a life.
How do you walk through devastation? How do you handle that journey from the moment your life turns upside down until you reach that place where you can say, “I am through it.”? For Paula Butturini it was the daily ritual of food; acquisition, preparation, enjoyment. This is a book about survival and conquest, despair and healing and woven throughout is always the comforting thread of food.
I loved the descriptions of the foods, the markets, the celebrations that Paula sprinkled liberally throughout the chapters of the book. I loved that she was real, like the Velveteen Rabbit, threadbare areas worn like a medal of honor. Keeping the Feast is a deep read, a choking drink out of a fire hydrant of emotions that carry you along with her until the end.
I liked the book a lot. I liked the words and the images and the way that the story carries you along, sometimes dreamy, sometimes hanging on for dear life while the white water roars all around you…taking you finally to the last page of, although certainly not the final one.
I asked Paula for a recipe to share with you and this is the yumminess that she sent. Enjoy! Is there anything better than pecan pie? Umm…. no?
Marjorie McGraw’s Pecan Pie
My mother’s mother was a master at pies: blueberry, apple, pumpkin,
cherry, chocolate, and lemon meringue. Maybe because we lived in New
England or maybe because she never had a neighbor from the south, my
grandmother never learned to make pecan pie, and I don’t think I ever
even tried one until I moved to Dallas in the late 1970s, when I began
making up for lost time. The trouble was that most pecan pie recipes
were so sweet that they made my teeth squeak when I ate them. Marjorie
McGraw, the wife of a UPI colleague of mine who was nearing retirement,
had an old timey recipe for pecan pie, and I can’t remember now if it
came from Texas or Louisiana, but I can say that it makes the best pecan
pie I’ve ever eaten. I’ve lived in Paris for more than 10 years now, and
our French friends like it as much as we do. I haul dark corn syrup and
fresh pecans across the Atlantic every summer, to make sure I can
continue making it until my next trip back to the States.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 scant cup sugar
- 3 large eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 cup chopped pecan
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar. Add remaining
ingredients and pour into an unbaked pie crust (made with 1 1/2 cups
flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons very cold
water). Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350
degrees and cook at that temperature for 50 additional minutes. Best
eaten after it has sat at least several hours or overnight.
Contributed by Paula Butturini (www.paulabutturini.com), whose book,
Keeping the Feast, will be published by Riverhead/Penguin on Feb. 18.
Images: Paula Butturini, used by permission