By Chuck Mallory
If you are from the Midwest and had the growing-up experience of going to a church supper at a country church, you are very lucky. I remember these fondly. Pleasant Green Baptist Church in north Missouri still stands today, and I suspect they still have their church suppers, church dinners, or maybe even church picnics. The church was founded August 25, 1885, after a revival meeting in an arbor near the site. The first pastor was paid a whopping $6 a month.
Back in the day, all the church ladies made great recipes that they knew by heart, just as well as they knew every word to the songs in the Broadman Hymnal. Tables were laden with inimitable fried chicken, country ham, mashed potatoes, green bean and corn dishes, deviled eggs (the more religious called them “angeled eggs” so as not to invoke evil), and sparkling, fruit-filled Jello salads (not a dessert — it was a “salad”). But where we kids focused was the array of mouth-watering pies, cakes and cookies.
Of course, Mom never allowed you to fill your plate with all desserts, though us younguns would have been happy to do just that. I have only a couple of recipes from those wonderful women of my youth but know that Georgie Ruth, Aunt Mildred, Bessie Pearl, Ruby Darst, “Aunt Gyp” Smith, Edythe Dickerson, Lillie Maude, Moneaka, Frankie Elam, and others, kept us fat and happy.
A summertime treat from those days would be an “icebox pie.” That was when people still called refrigerators “ice boxes” from the early days when it really was an insulated box with a block of ice in it. Of course, we had a modern refrigerator but called it “the icebox.” Did you?
Remember, this was created to be an old-fashioned recipe. I could have developed it with all kinds of modern substitutes but I don’t prefer aspartame, olestra, sucralose and other things that do not come directly out of the ground, a hen, or a cow’s udder. So don’t shirk at the nine egg yolks, butter and heavy cream. You gotta eat up for a long day o’ preachin!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: overnight or 1 day
Calories: don’t even ask
Church Supper Lemon Icebox Pie
Ingredients for Lemon Icebox Pie
3 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies (plus extra whole cookies for topping)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups whipping cream, divided (second cup is optional for topping)
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons superfine sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 large egg yolks
20 to 21 ounces sweetened condensed milk (this typically comes in 14-ounce cans; use 1 and 1/2 cans)
1 cup lemon juice (bottled is fine)
Directions for Lemon Icebox Pie
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Crush vanilla wafer cookies to a fine crumb.
- In a medium bowl, place cookie crumbs and melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Press into the bottom and about an inch up the side of a 10-inch pie pan or springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, pour 1 cup whipping cream, 2 teaspoons superfine sugar and vanilla extract, and whip to soft peaks, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Do not be concerned if you are not creating stiff “whipped cream,” as this part will be folded into another mixture and frozen.)
- In a large bowl, mix egg yolks and remaining superfine sugar. Whisk at high speed (hand or stand mixer) for about 5 minutes, until mixture is somewhat fluffy. Stirring slowly, add sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice until mixed. Gently fold in the medium bowl of whipped cream mixture until fully blended.
- Pour into prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and put in freezer overnight or at least eight hours.
- When serving, remove from freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If desired, top with whole vanilla wafer cookies. Whip 1 more cup whipping cream to firm peaks and use as topping.
NOTE: I doubt the church ladies fussed with something like superfine sugar. You can use regular sugar in this recipe, but it’s easier to mix superfine. If you cannot find superfine sugar, put sugar in a blender and mix on high to break it down to superfine texture.
Where are the lemons? Get real! These were the old days. We didn’t mess with fresh fruit!
About the Author
Chuck Mallory is a Chicago-based writer who hails from small-town America. In the 90s, he was a writer for men’s fitness magazines and currently is at work on a novel for preteens. His first book for preteens, The Owl Motel: And Other Places You Are Not Welcome, was published in 2014. He writes the “Country Cooking” blog for Grit.com and his work has also appeared in Mother Earth News. The big city is not his final destination as he is looking for a small rural farm for a future of gardening and cooking in the country.
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