I was in need of an escape. Nearly nineteen years old, a full time student and holding two part time jobs, I really didn’t have time for a new hobby, but if I continued to be this anti social there would be a lot of cats and Wheel of Fortune in my future. Something had to be done.
I decided to start at the book store. Maybe I could find a good read, a book club, or someone who enjoyed coffee as much as I did. Wandering around, and just about to give up on my new ‘hobby’, I ran into a familiar face. James was the big brother of a girl I knew in high school. He and I crossed paths at the climbing gym the year before (another flash-in-the-pan hobby) and frequently met up there until he moved away.
We enthusiastically caught up and I was just about to breath a sigh of relief that I could re-up on an old hobby when he mentioned climbing was no longer his thing. Deflated, and flashes of cats and game shows in my eyes, I turned away and said goodbye. “Wait!” I heard from behind me. “I am teaching Swing Dancing now. You should come out tonight!”
I walked through the door at the Country Western club and paid my cover fee. The interior was not blaring boot-scootin’ music and there were no cowboys in sight. There were girls with hair pin curls and saddle shoes, and guys with suspenders and drivers caps, energetically jumping around on the dance floor to Zoot Suit Riot.
James waved me over and gave me a short dance lesson and sent me on my way.
I was hooked.
Week after week I returned to that venue, then ventured out to the other bars in town. Swing Dancing was hot, and there was a place to go four nights a week.
Night after night there was a man sitting at a secluded table drinking a gin and tonic. The club owners would stop by and share a handshake and smile. He moved from the table only when the music moved him, and he only danced with the ladies who were experienced dancers. He never wore the suspenders and cap like the rest. The black fedora, four-button vest, and tasteful tie added to the mystery.
I was new to the scene and practically lived for the day I was a good enough dancer that Mystery Man would come my way and ask for a dance. Never missing a Swing Night, I was determined. Dancing with anyone who would say yes, I fine tuned my skills and had a blast all at the same time.
One particular evening I danced with a regular who was kind of known as the ‘know-it’all’. Even though most of the girls rolled their eyes at his egoistical manner, I never turned down a dance. That is when it happened. He grabbed my hands to pull me into an aerial and did not follow through – dropping me on my head.
I was o.k. – hey, things like this happen and I picked myself up and looked into the face of Know-It-All. He was laughing. Laughing! Disgusted, I walked off the dance floor and recovered with the encouragement of my new found friends. The next song started and I immediately scanned the room for another partner, eager to get back on the horse. Turning on the bar stool, I swiveled into Mystery Man, who had is hand out asking me for a dance.
Elated on the inside, but trying to stay cool on the outside, I took his hand and we proceeded to the floor. Initially nervous, I wondered if I would be good enough, but found confidence in his leads. The nerves fading away, I started having fun. Not missing a step as the last bar of the song concluded, I decided my first dance with Mystery Man was a big success. He led me off the dance floor and said “If you need a dance partner, please come and ask me – don’t dance with him.”
For Father’s Day Mystery Man requested this pie. This is a multi-step recipe, but don’t worry – I’ll take the lead.
First thing first – PIE DOUGH
You can use store-bought pie dough shells, use your own recipe, or give a Gluten Free Pie Dough (post coming!) recipe a try.
You will need TWO pie dough shells for this recipe – cooled to room temperature.
Peanut Butter Pie
Yields 2 pies
2 baked pie shells
4 cups milk, scalded
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten with fork
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
• In a heavy medium sauce pan, melt the butter and peanut butter briefly and stir with a wooden spoon. Whisk in hot, scalded milk. Remove from heat until directed.
• In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and vanilla with a fork until completely incorporated and as smooth as possible.
• Measure out 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. While whisking the egg yolk/corn starch mixture constantly, slowly add the 1 cup of hot milk mixture until smooth and silky with no lumps.
• Put pan of milk back on medium-high heat and add the smooth egg yolk mixture, whisking until smooth. Continue stirring. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and the whisk leaves trails through the pudding-like mixture.
• Transfer immediately to a medium bowl. Cool on the counter for 1/2 hour. Place plastic wrap directly on top of pudding to prevent skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours, or until completely cold.
• Put the ingredients for the crumbs in a medium bowl.
• Using a fork, mix the ingredients together to make “crumbs”.
Topping and Final Assembly
• In a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy – about 45 seconds
• Add 1/2 cup sugar.
• Beat on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form. Set aside.
• Put 1/2 cup crumbs in each pie shells, spreading evenly. Reserve the remaining crumbs for the top of the pie.
• Divide the pudding between the two pies, spooning into the shells (and on top of the crumbs) spreading evenly.
• Dividing the egg whites, spread over top of the pudding mixture and make sure it is all the way to the edge for a good seal.
• Sprinkle tops of the pies with the reserved crumbs.
• Bake on low broil for 2-3 minutes until topping is light golden brown.
Chill for three hours, then serve.