Areavoices: A dark coop, stingy chickens and custard pieWe were lucky to get a half dozen eggs a day in January, which is one of the reasons why we had cereal or pancakes for breakfast so often in the winter.
By: Chuck Rang, "Courage in the Kitchen" on Areavoices, INFORUM
Our chicken coop was home to at least a couple dozen hens and a rooster year round. Hens need plenty of daylight to lay reliably, so egg producers today have bright artificial lighting that makes the hens think it is midsummer on the winter solstice. We didn’t even have a back porch light or a light in the woodshed, let alone one in the chicken coop. If I didn’t fill the woodbox before it got dark, one of my sisters carried the flashlight while Dad complained about our wasting batteries.
We were lucky to get a half dozen eggs a day in January, which is one of the reasons why we had cereal or pancakes for breakfast so often in the winter. I still like how a bowl of hot oatmeal warms me on a cold morning, so the cereal may have been partly a way to prepare us kids for the walk to the bus stop in -30 degree weather.
During the late spring and throughout the summer, however, we had more than enough fresh eggs. That’s when Mom made custard pies. She could whip one up in 20 minutes, including the time it took her to make the crust. After you have made a dozen, you will be doing the same.
Not as sweet, not as many calories or carbohydrates as fruit pies, a custard pie is a delicious way to end a meal. A custard pie is absurdly easy to make. This recipe will make a nine inch pie that will serve eight.
1 pie crust
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk or 2 cups reduced fat milk plus 1 or 2 tsp. melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
First make a pie crust. You can halve this recipe for one crust or make two and freeze the second. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven is hot, prick the bottom of the pie crust and put the crust in the oven. You have 10 minutes to make the filling.
Put the eggs in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to bring them to room temperature. Have the milk at room temperature or warm it to about 100 degrees. Beat the eggs until the whites and yolks are mixed, but not lemon yellow.
Stir the milk, sugar, salt, nutmeg and vanilla into the eggs and mix well. After the crust has baked 10 minutes, remove it from the oven and fill it with the custard mixture.
Return the pie to the oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. After 25 minutes, test for doneness with a table knife stuck into the center of the pie. If the blade comes out clean, the pie is done. If not, bake 4 or 5 minutes longer and test again.
NOTE: If you have too much custard for your crust, you can bake it in custard cups along with the pie. Jerri puts the cups in a pan of hot water, but I usually just pop them in the oven.