Pi Day, 2015


My teenage handwriting and Grandma’s recipe

My post for pi day last year featured a little bit of background on the celebration, a recipe for lemon meringue pie, and some handy advice on additional calendar-related excuses to eat pie. This year* I have for you my grandma’s recipe for Banana Cream Pie. I think you’re going to like it.

Before we get into the details of how to make this, let’s have story time.


Grandma as a young woman. Thanks to my cousin Sheryl for the picture.

Once upon a time, my grandma Elda was a wonderful cook. She and my grandpa Harold had seven children, and lived on a farm in rural Weber County, Utah. There was a great deal of cooking to be done, for both her family and the hired men that worked with the crops and the cattle.

I don’t know if there was one thing she cooked better than anything else, but she definitely had a way with pies. When my mom was dating my dad, she wanted to learn how to make delicious pies like his mother did, so she watched Elda work her magic, and she took careful notes.

At some point early in their marriage, my mom tried out the recipe for banana cream pie. After she had served them each a piece and taken her first bite, she gave an exasperated sigh and said, “Oh, this just doesn’t taste like your mom’s banana cream pie!” My dad had eaten at least a few bites by that time–one thing you learn at a table with lots of family and farm hands is that he who hesitates is lost.  He responded, “This is banana cream pie?”

It’s more likely that he was teasing than that the pie was entirely unrecognizable. We don’t have a record of how well his question went over with my mom, but I do know that this has become a favorite family story. And this is a favorite family pie.


Here is Grandma’s recipe, much beloved. (My aunts may have a slightly different version–if so, let me know!) Don’t forget the vanilla: it goes in late, when you might think you’re past the “add something” stage. (I know food blogs often start with the pictures and end with the recipe–I’m reversing that here so you know what’s in store, but there are definitely pictures coming.)

Grandma’s Banana Cream Pie

Have ready 2 egg yolks and a baked pie shell.

Mix together in a small bowl:

4 tablespoons flour (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In the top of a double boiler, scald:

2 cups milk, or 1 cup milk + 1 cup half and half

Stir a little of the hot milk into the dry ingredients, then add the mixture to the milk in double boiler.

Mix a little of the hot liquid into the egg yokes, and add this back into the milk mixture. Cook gently until thickened. Remove from heat.

Stir in 1 teaspoon real vanilla.

2-3 ripe bananas: put down a layer of banana slices in the prepared pie shell (graham cracker or pastry, as desired), then about half the pudding, then another banana layer, then the rest of the pudding. Chill. Serve topped with real whipped cream and more banana slices.

There are books written on techniques for making pie crust, and I’m a wee bit pressed for time–I’ve got pies to make. So I’ll just provide you with the list of ingredients that I think is also Grandma’s, and a link with lots of thoughts on putting similar ingredients together into a wonderful crust.  This should make 2 or 3 crusts, depending on size.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening or lard (she used lard, generally)
shy 1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vinegar

And now for some pictures of making pie on Pi Day, 2015.

First we get the crust ready. One of my favorite edges is this one–you pinch the pastry border with your fingers in this position, all the way around. We raided the mancala game for pie weights (we even washed them first).


Now for the filling. After stirring a little hot milk into the dry ingredients, we stir that back into the pot of hot milk.


Next, we pour some of that mixture slowly into the egg yolks, stirring well. (If you just stir the eggs directly into the hot milk, you get egg drop milk soup.)


And then we pour that back into the milk. This recipe may remind you of playing in the tub as a young child, pouring water back and forth between two cups. This is potentially messier.



Now we stir until thickened (and then add the vanilla!). Next, we’re placing banana slices into the baked shell, and spreading half of the pudding.



Action shot with blur


Here’s hoping there’s pie in this day for you!

*This year we not only get to celebrate 3.14, but 3.14.15, and if, like us, you had pie at 9:26 am and 53 seconds, you’ve got 10 significant figures, plus pie! Something to get excited about, indeed. Our morning pie was Impossible Pie, a creation that includes eggs, ham, veggies and cheese, very tasty.





9 thoughts on “Pi Day, 2015

  1. What a beautiful woman your Gramma was, Lori. I remember the ” impossible pie” from the 60’s when I was actually doing some cooking!

  2. I love this pie recipe, Grandma took ordinary ingredients and made something extraordinary. That pretty much sums up Grandma’s life. It was simple but the way she lived and loved was simply, most definitely, extraordinary!

  3. Pingback: Pi Day, 2016 | Lori Notes

  4. I remember a wonderful story about pie at your grandpa’s funeral. It had something to do with “doctor’s orders.” Do you know the story?

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