CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pecan Pie

What’s the most popular day of the year to make a pie?

If you guessed today, March 14, I don’t know if you’d be right, but for sure, it would rank right up there with the day before holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.

That’s because March 14 is known as Pi Day in mathematical circles, and it has become a popular date to have pie-baking contests. (For those of you who are challenged with numbers, pi rounds to 3.14 and represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. And this year, the calendar date aligns with two additional digits of pi, 3.1415. That won’t happen again until March 14, 2115.)

I remember several years ago being asked to be one of the judge for a pie contest on Pi Day. The event, at Schroeder Middle School in Grand Forks, was a fundraiser for the Circle of Friends Humane Society and was the idea of Monte Gaukler and Peggy Johnson, both teachers at the school.

There were more than 20 entries in the contest, and if my memory serves me correctly, I didn’t have to sample all of them. But of the ones that I did, a couple of them really caught my attention. My favorites was the Sawdust Pie, though. It featured pecans and graham cracker crumbs and was the creation of Monte.

Pecan pie always has been special for me. My mom used to make a pecan pie every spring with nuts that My Aunt Harriet and Uncle Curt would bring back from the Gulf Shores area of southern Alabama, where they used to spend some time during the winter months.

Here are recipes for Mom’s pecan pie and Monte’s Sawdust pie. I don’t think Monte’s pecan pie was as good as Mom’s, but you can be the judge of that!

Monte Gaukler’s Sawdust Pie
7 egg whites
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1½ cups pecans
1½ cups coconut
1 pie shell
Mix all ingredients together and stir by hand (will be very stiff). Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.
Notes: Do not overbake. The middle of the pie will be gooey.

Lilah's Pecan Pie
Lilah’s Pecan Pie

Lilah’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoonp salt
1/3 cup or margarine, melted
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1 cup pecans
Beat eggs. Add sugar, salt, butter and syrup and mix with a hand beater. Stir in nuts. Pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake at 325 for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling sets.

2 thoughts on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pecan Pie”

  • Katherine March 14, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Yum — my mom baked great pies. Thanks for the reminder and memory.

  • Helen Murphy April 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    My mom was a great pie maker and one of her best was a pecan. They were extra good in later years made with pecans brought back from trips south and shelled ever so carefully by my dad. I think love is the secret ingredient that made these treats made by our mothers extra yummy.


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