Mama’s Magic Pecan Pie and How I Found My Own Magic

image Riders, welcome Lorilee Lillibridge to the ‘vert today!  Comment and you could win a copy of HILL COUNTRY MAN.

I was fortunate to be raised on fine Texas cooking heavily influenced by comfort food from the deep South. My mama prepared magical creations in her kitchen resulting in a line-up for whatever tempting dish she brought to the church suppers. Pies were her specialty and huge favorites of the congregation. Her pecan pie was the only birthday “cake” I ever wanted. On occasion, she’d whip up Daddy’s favorite, a delicious, mile-high angel food cake, but for me nothing was better than her pecan pie.

I felt Mama’s love in every scrumptious bite of that sticky-sweet, pecan-filled goodness. When I had a skinned knee and needed a hug or was pouting because Mama said nine was too young to wear mascara and no, I couldn’t take dance lessons, either, her pecan pie pulled me out of my blue mood and put a smile on my face again. Mama loved to sing in the kitchen, too, and I always wondered why she never sang in the church choir. Years later, I learned she’d never considered her voice good enough to sing in public. I thought she had the voice of an angel.

Mama and I lost Daddy when I was eleven. She told me God needed another preacher in Heaven and chose Daddy to fill that special pulpit. Then she baked me a pecan pie and sang When We All Get To Heaven. That was the only time I couldn’t feel the magic in Mama’s pie. In my child-sized heart, I secretly believed God had taken the magic away to share with my daddy. I was wrong. Mama made pecan pies for many years.

pecan pie 1

      Mama’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs – slightly beaten
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup chopped pecansMix all together adding nuts last . Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake @450 F. for ten minutes – then reduce heat to 350 F. and bake until silver knife inserted in center comes out clean. An hour or so.
(Mama’s note: I usually start it off at 350 F. and bake 50-55 minutes, as it doesn’t get so brown that way. Good luck!)
I guess you’re wondering what the point is to all this rambling, but I do have one. Mama joined Daddy over twenty years ago and it’s been a long time since I felt any magic in a pecan pie. Oh, I bake them once in a while but there’s no magic in them. I don’t have Mama’s special touch in the kitchen. Never did, or so I believed. Then an unexpected family trauma taught me that the magic isn’t always in the pie.
You see, two weeks before Christmas, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent extensive surgery. Scary times for the family and for her, a young mother of three. Many tears and answered prayers later, she’s now on the long road to recovery, but during those days of pain and anxiety when I was at her side, all she asked for was her childhood comfort food, red Jello™ – always raspberry and always plain. As a mom, I wanted to do more for her than make a dish of gelatin. But her wonderful circle of friends had scheduled meals for the family for the next few weeks leaving me free to help in other ways, so I promptly headed to the store to buy every box of raspberry flavored gelatin on the shelves. If that’s what she wanted, I would make it— lots of it.
While I was making dish number three (or was it four?) of the red, jiggly stuff, I had one of those light bulb moments — the kind that makes you sit up and pay attention. Suddenly, I heard Mama telling me it didn’t matter if my pecan pies weren’t like hers or my meals didn’t always turn out the same as hers.
Surprise, surprise! My own kind of magic had been there all along in a simple bowl of “always raspberry, always plain” . . . my daughter knew it because she found the magic in a special ingredient – love. Simple magic from the heart. Once I realized that, I knew why Mama’s pecan pie was so special. She’d always added her secret magic in every dish she made. LOVE. It makes everything taste better.
Have you found your kitchen magic? If so, I hope you’ll tell us about it. Who knew mine would be in the “always raspberry, always plain” ? I will offer a copy of HILL COUNTRY MAN to be given away to one comment in a drawing.

image HILL COUNTRY MAN ebook is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in book giveaway, horses, loralee lillibridge, pie, prize. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Mama’s Magic Pecan Pie and How I Found My Own Magic

  1. Thanks,Kathleen and ladies in the ‘vert, for scootin’ over to make room for me today. It’s an honor to ride with y’all. If you’re ever in West Michigan, give a holler. I’d love to show you around.

    • Good morning, Lorilee! Oh, my goodness, the recipe is missing!
      There. I got it. I thought I’d added it to the post, but you know me. Techno-dunce. I wanted to make it like a recipe card. Ah, well, cut & paste, Riders.

      • Kathleen, the recipe is a basic one. I think Mama might have gotten it from a bottle of Karo, not sure. Mine still don’t turn out like hers. What can I say? I make darn good always raspberry, always plain red stuff!

  2. Liz Flaherty says:

    I loved this post, and I’m so happy your daughter’s recovering, complete with mom-made Jello.

  3. leannebanks says:

    Oh, Loralee, what a wonderful post! I hope your daughter is doing well and what a blessing to have Jello from mom. Congrats on the book and welcome to the very!

    • Leanne, thanks for the kind words. A simple request for Jello turned into a blog about Mama and magic…and love. Funny how the mind of a writer works, isn’t it?

      • The one time I was hospitalized (other than having babies) turned into 2 hospital stays , 2 surgeries–nearly died of kidney failure–but when I was about to be released, finally felt like eating, all I could think about was Mama’s lasagna.

  4. nancygideon says:

    Okay, so now I’m sitting at my desk at work blubbering away, wanting pecan pie. Nice post to remind us the ‘magic’ isn’t in the ‘things.’ It’s in the heart.

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    What a touching tale! I cried. Like you, I lost my mom about 20 years ago and before that my gram who was like my second mom. Food never tasted the same. I still make their recipes but only when I long to fall back into my memories of those days.

    My daughter and son have their own favorites of mine. Some were from growing up but like your daughter, they’ve made their own. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Bless you, Melissa, I can tell you understand about the food and the memories. I’m so thankful for those memories. My grandkids always ask for Grandma Jello with fruit cocktail in it. That red jiggly stuff sure is popular in my family.

  6. I love this post, Lorilee. It’s a woman’s story–very personal, absolutely universal. When Mama dies, you feel like you’ve been cut off at the roots. It’s been almost 25 years since my mama died, but she talks to me all the time. Those recipes help you discover that the roots are still there and the voice is more than a memory, more than just something in your head. Those roots are living cords–chords? Yes, that too. They don’t end with you. They run through you. It’s a beautiful thing.

    • Kathleen, you said it so well. ..cut off at the roots. That’s exactly how it feels. Mama died in 1987, the year God gave us a new granddaughter. Two years ago, our great-granddaughter was born on the date of my daddy’s death. Her name is Lora. The Circle of Life goes on.

      • Wow. My sister had her daughter 10 months after Mama’s death. The Lakota have taught me much about the circle. I was so linear before I went to Indian country, but it’s really all about the circle.

  7. marissoule says:

    Not fair. Here I am on a diet and you have me drooling for your Mama’s Peacan Pie. It sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Kathleen O says:

    What a wonderful story and I will keep your daughter in my prayers for her continued good progress with her cancer.
    My magic in my kitchen is every time I make a pot of tea. It is my grandmother voice, “make sure the water in the kettle is boiling and warm the pot first”. ” And tea always taste better in a China cup and saucer or Mug”. There are some wonderful stories about my grandmother and Tea that are shared in our family… I told one of them in my Eulogy at her funeral and it gave everyone a smile.. Today is her birthday and she would have been 105 yrs old had she still been with us. So I raise my China mug to you Nana…

  9. loisgreiman says:

    Loralee, huge welcome. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
    I’m not a great cook, but I find now as I age that food really does bring people together. In my current Hope Springs novels, one of my main characters has found her place in the world through cooking so I’m vicariously making meals through her.
    Oh, and I think we met at a booksigning many years ago. Am I right?

    • You remember!!! Yes, Lois, you were in West Michigan and I came to your signing with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter. BTW, I have your first Hope Springs on my Kindle TBR list. It sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it.

      • loisgreiman says:

        I remember you as being so warm and intelligent. Thanks for coming to the signing all those years ago, for blogging with us, and for buying Finding Home. Much appreciated.

  10. ellie says:

    What a wonderful post. It captures the emotion and the generations and the importance of the family and your closeness.

    • Ellie, family has always been important to me. In my immediate family of kids, grandkids and great-grandkidlets, we number 23 with another great one on the way. My hubby’s family clan gets together every other Thanksgiving. In 2012 we fed over 90 of the 140 current members and had a wonderful time. Our Circle of Life is a big one.

  11. Anne says:

    Best wishes for a fully and healthy recovery for your daughter. Your post was heartrending and special. I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and am finally recovering from this ordeal. I am grateful for the strength and health that I have now.

    • Oh, Anne, special blessings to you as you continue to recover. The disease is frightening, but research has advanced in many ways and now the options for treatment and recovery give much hope. May you continue to gain strength each day. Hugs!

  12. diane says:

    Enjoy your family and best wishes for great health for your daughter. Health is what matters since life is fleeting and we appreciate our good health each and everyday.

  13. Loralee, what a story. And, what others here have said is true. Love comes in all shapes, sizes and ages. My own mom and favorite grandma are gone too. But, I can still feel them with me whenever I need them.

  14. Quilt Lady says:

    I always make my Mon’s Pecan pie during holidays and such. Her recipe is about the same but I don’t add the salt of vanilla and I always beat it well because it helps the filling hold together. I also bake at 350 for 1 hour. I cook a lot like my mom did.

  15. What a wonderful, touching post on how much family means to us, and the ways in which love can be expressed. I will never forget some of the meals my own mom made—I can never emulate her fried chicken, or her holiday meals where the table was so beautifully decorated, and everything was so wonderful! Thanks so much for showing that we can all have our own special way of showing our love and caring. After reading your lovely post, I’m going to buy your book, because I’ll bet it is wonderfully emotional as well!

    • Oh, Roxanne, fried chicken! I remember Mama’s fabulous fried chicken for Sunday dinner. And wonder of wonders, I can fry up a pretty good platter full, too, but it’s still not quite like hers. I am in the process now of making “memory” recipe books for my adult granddaughters and combining Mama’s favorites with some of my own .. like the red jiggly stuff. LOL! Thanks for your kind words. I hope you enjoy the book.

  16. pearl says:

    Your thoughtful post was beautiful and special. You have heart and soul. Caring for family is important and their health and welfare makes me feel good inside.

  17. librarypat says:

    Don’t know why, but I have never made a Pecan Pie. I enjoy them, but we just never made them at our house when I was growing up.
    There are certain dishes I associate with particular family members. When I cook them, I can remember meals I had with these now gone relatives and how much we enjoyed the food and the company: My maternal grandmother’s rice pudding, my paternal grandmother’s filled cookies and sugar cream pie, my Aunt Helen’s goulash and macaroni salad, my dad’s michigan sauce and clam chowder, my mom’s pot roast and date nut roll. The list goes on. Thanks for bringing up good memories.

    • librarypat, you’ve got some wonderful memories associated with your loved ones and the foods they made. Love how you mentioned enjoying the food AND the company, too. After all, if there’s no one to share with, there’ll be no special memories. I’m glad you have those good memories.

  18. Mary says:

    So much harder to watch a loved one go through an ordeal that go through it yourself. Wishing your daughter and family all the best on her road to recovery.
    I learned to cook helping my Mom in the kitchen – everyone in the family has a favorite dish. I don’t make any of them often but whenever I do, it brings back so many lovely memories.

  19. What a lovely blog, Loralee! I just had a conversation tonight with another friend about our moms and how special they were, how they made simple things seem so wonderful. I remember the pizza my mom made every week. It was just from a box but she added to it, and it always was delicious. Also, homemade tomato soup, and the Italian Christmas cookies she made every year. She had to go to work after my dad passed away when I was five, but she still managed to do many special things for her three girls.
    So glad to hear your daughter is on her way to recovery, and I’ll keep her in my prayers. You know the love in that raspberry jello had a lot to do with that!!


  20. We’re all so blessed to have had special Moms in our lives, aren’t we? I’m glad my blog brought back special memories for you, too, Lucy. Your prayers for my daughter are appreciated. Please remember all who have been touched by the disease, too.

  21. Pingback: March 2013 Edition of The Mid-Michigan Mirror Volume MMXIV~Issue 2 » Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America

  22. Pingback: March 2013 Edition of The Mid-Michigan Mirror Volume MMXIV~Issue 2 » Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America

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