Pies! Just the word makes me hungry for one — of any kind.

Oddly enough this seems to be one culinary word that historians and etymologists cannot agree upon. It seems the first mention of “pie” was as early as 1199 in Middle English. Though I love words, I am less concerned with the origin of the word than the recipes for this most favorite dessert of many of us.

First off, the crust for the pie makes a big difference. Sure, I will be the first to admit that refrigerated or frozen pie shells serve a purpose, (and I keep a couple in the freezer for emergencies) but there is nothing to compare, in my opinion, with a flaky, tender pie crust.

I have shared my easy crust with you several times, but there might be just one person who has not tried it. It is the crust that I use for all the recipes that I am giving you today. I do not recommend it for chicken pot pies or quiche.

Easy Pie Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 6 1/2 tablespoon melted butter

Mix flour and powdered sugar. Stir in melted butter. Pat into an 8-or 9-inch pie plate or pan. I prefer pans. This crust can be used for pre-baked crusts or crusts that are baked with fillings, such as chess, custard or fruit pie. If using for a pre-baked crust, bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

The first recipe is one that I made up while trying another that did not seem “just right” to me.

Barb’s German Chocolate Pie

  • 3 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk or half and half cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Mix sugar, flour, cocoa and salt and mix into beaten eggs with a wire whisk. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Pour into unbaked pie crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until set.

Some of my friends and family think that my mother’s recipe for strawberry pie is the best ever pie. We do not know if she created the recipe or where she got it. It really is a great recipe.

Mother’s Strawberry Pie

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries (or you can use fresh peaches, bananas or coconut)

Topping:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust

Heat milk and butter until butter is melted. Combine sugar and flour and stir into milk and butter. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly over medium heat. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool thoroughly.

Wash, hull and drain strawberries. Place whole (or half if berries are large) on bottom of crust. Save a few berries for garnish. Cover with custard. Whip cream and add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, Spread on top of custard. Garnish with reserved berries. Chill until ready to serve.

Peachy Lemon Pie

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 1 can (16 ounces) canned peach slices, drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

Place drained peach slices in pie crust. Beat eggs, and add remaining ingredients, Pour over peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until custard is set.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal’s Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.