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Best Recipes In America: Pear Pie and Salad
Fruits of Childhood
While I was growing up, we often had apples in the house. When they were in season, we had some oranges and we often had bananas. Having survived the Great Depression, my parents often served cut up oranges and bananas sprinkled with sugar. Reading about this dish in a Ray Bradbury novel recently brought back those memories.
Today, I would really not sprinkle sugar on fresh fruit; but I thing the oranges and bananas were comfort food. Many Christmases during the Depression, children received an orange in their Christmas Stockings. I think that's the connection.
African Cucumber (not a pear)
Nowadays, with global connections, we see fruits of all sorts in the markets and grocery stores during all 12 months of the year. I remember when Star Trek Voyager® first aired on television - the ship's galley included a bowl of "alien" fruits on the counter. These fruits were simply those that some Americans had not yet seen in their grocery shopping experiences - star fruit and African cucumber (a spiny yellow melon). Now, we see them all.
One thing I recall about childhood is the flavor of pears, which we had once in a while, They were large green pears and quite mild in flavor - better than apples, I thought. But they spoiled quickly - squishier than canned pears.
It turns out that the pear is a cousin to the apple, so the similarity in flavor makes sense - it's one of degree, I think. This makes me wonder that since alligator fritters take like mild sausage to nme, does this mean that the alligator is related to the pig?
Of course, there is also the alligator pear (actually, the avocado, another favorite).
At any rate, the pears in the groceries of my youth were marked only as "Pears", but they were Anjous.
3,000 Types of Pears
- Types of Pears
If you have questions about pears, you're at the right place! Find out about Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc Pears and many more.
My First Pear Pie
The summer I turned 18, I had just graduated from high school with few cooking skills; but I thought, “If apple pies are good, why not pear pies?”
People I asked about this told me that they had never heard of a pear pie, so threfore, a pear pie could not be good. I begged to differ. Besides, what they asserted was illogical. The fact that we have not heard of something or someone is not proof that that entity does not exists. I ask you - isn't that a law of physics? It is in my world.
I substituted pears into an apple pie recipe of old and found the results very likable - a wonderful slightly spicy aroma and a good-looking pie, soft light golden brown. It makes me hungry just to think about it. Most folks would not try it. They still said they’d never heard of a pear pie and just looked at me funny. That was OK – more for me. Now pear pie seems a delicacy, but not unknown in the world where people get acquainted with things and people they do not know.
- 2 1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 4 Cups of fresh Pears after they are sliced
- 2-3 Tbsp butter or margarine
- 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, (cloves, but that is optional) and a pinch of salt These days, sometimes I use just the allspice and nutmeg - 1 tsp each.
- Recipe for 2 unbaked pie crusts, one of them in the pie pan.
- Small amount of milk and a pastry brush.
- Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.
- Mix together flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, & salt. Add sugar and mix.
- Add pears to the dry ingredients & mix until coated.
- Scoop the pear mixture into one crust.
- Melt margarine or butter and drizzle over the top.
- Cover with second crust, crimp edges, and brush the top with some milk.
- Bake 10-12 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake until crust is golden brown and pears are done. If the pie browns too quickly, cover the top with an aluminum foil tent.
Pears 'N' Things Grown in America
I like the crunch of this pear salad very much - crunchy pears, crunchy celery, and crunch Iceberg lettuce. for less crunch I use mixed salad greens, which also provides more color with purple and reddish leaves. The white Cheddar cheese makes a nice sharper taste and texture contrast, as do the walnuts. English walnuts, when used, provide a different flavor yet. You might also want to shave some carrots over the salad.
- 2 Anjou or Barlett Pears, ripe but firm - washed and sliced (retain peel)
- 2 ribs of celery, sliced up
- 1 head of Iceberg lettuce, or 1 bag of mixed salad lettuces
- 3/4 Cup walnut halves, toasted
- 1.2 Cup white Cheddar cheese cubes
- 1 Cup olive oil
- 6 Tbsp vinegar
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- Shake dressing ingredients together in a tightly-lidded jar until sugar is dissolved and sit in refrigerator to meld flavors. You can also make the dressing a day ahead of time.
- Toast walnuts - Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees F for 3-4 minutes. You can also do this in a hot frying pan on the stove top, but walnuts burn easily and baking is less hazardous is this regard.
- Tear lettuce into small pieces and arrange in salad bowls.
- Arrange pear slices over the salad greens in each bowl.
- Sprinkle walnuts over the pears.
- Sprinkle cheese cubes on top of walnuts.
- Remove dressing from refrigerator, shake well, and pour over salads. Keep remaining dressing in the refrigerator; you can also make the dressing the night before.