Marion, Va., branch of the Smyth-Bland Regional Library. The library is top-notch, as were the ladies who make up this club. I came home with an autographed copy of “Blood on the Constitution,” by R.S. Sukle. Sukle was an occasional letter writer when I was opinion page editor at the Bristol Herald Courier and it was a pleasure to meet her in person, and talk to the club about regional programming by Blue Ridge PBS.
My trip also included an in-person visit to a longtime friend, Becky Sparger, who invited me for dinner at her home after the library event. I met Becky when she joined the reader advisory panel of the Bristol Herald Courier about two years ago. She continues to serve on this panel, and deserves praise for driving from Marion to Bristol for the monthly night meetings. I enjoyed wonderful hospitality in Marion and the pleasure of meeting Becky’s husband, John; her parents, Dr. and Mrs. James Patterson, and Ellen Bane Hull, another book club member. Becky and John hosted this crowd at their home, where we enjoyed London broil, twice baked potatoes, broccoli, angel biscuits and a delicious pecan pie.
Becky was gracious to share the recipe. It is nutty and luscious, with a fantastic homemade crust. It was a perfect way to end a perfect meal.
Becky and John Sparger’s Pecan Pie
For the crust:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Crisco (occasionally I use butter, my son always does)
5 - 7 or so tablespoons ice cold water
With a pastry blender, mix the flour and salt, then add the Crisco. Cut in until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add water and stir until a soft dough, then wrap and chill or freeze. If using frozen dough, let thaw but still be cold. Roll the dough on a floured surface, then place in a 9-inch pie pan.
For the pie
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
1 1/3 cup dark brown corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup pecans, slightly chopped
Mix all together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Pie will still jiggle when you get it out. Don't worry. It is best made one day ahead of time to give it a chance to "set." You can add 1/2 to one cup of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup bourbon for a Kentucky Derby Pie. Add an extra egg or use 3 large eggs to compensate for the extra fluid. Cook the same way, same temperature (350 for one hour).