Back in 1995, when I was ten years old...
Okay, it was 1975. But the rest of the story is true.
When I was ten years old, I flew on an airplane for the very first time, from Denver to New York. Flying was fun in 1975. Everyone was very nice. My six-year-old brother and I thought the little bags of peanuts were fun, and even the awful airline food was wonderful to us. I got to listen to music on the headset. I thought it was just the most amazing time.
When we got to New York, we visited the relatives who had come to see us over the years. At one point, we went up to Amsterdam, which is where my father's maternal relatives came from. My great-uncle was an undertaker. When people hear the word "undertaker," they usually think of someone like this:
The late character actor Angus Scrimm played The Tall Man in the Phantasm movies
My great-uncle did not fit the image of the stereotypical undertaker. He was a very benevolent man who smiled a lot. He became a mortician because it was a necessary service.
My father's maternal family owned the building containing the mortuary and the chapel. My great-grandmother, who hardly spoke any English, and two of my great-aunts lived on the upper floors of the building. Another great-aunt lived in a house next door. These folks are long gone now, but at that moment they were very much alive, and the world seemed very much alive.
My great-grandmother was an excellent cook, and everything she made was wonderful, especially the latkes. My great-aunt Isabelle wasn't as skilled in the kitchen, but she did a passable job. And she made the wondrous pineapple pie. I don't remember what else she made when we had our afternoon lunch in her apartment, but I certainly remember the pineapple pie. I could well have eaten the whole thing!
Those days spent with my Lithuanian relatives are long gone. Latkes may be a ubiquitous if delicious favorite among Eastern European people, but I'm pretty sure pineapple pie is not a traditional Lithuanian dish. Nonetheless, it was a fast favorite among the group of Lithuanian-Americans gathered on that afternoon forty-five years ago, and my Great-Aunt Isabelle was very smart to have made it because it couldn't be easier.
I found the recipe for Pineapple Dream Dessert at Amanda's Cookin'. This is the Amazing Pineapple Pie recipe, only in a square pan. I didn't have any graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs, but I did have a couple of pre-made graham cracker pie crusts, so the Pineapple Dream Dessert went back to being a pie.
Here is what you need.
If you are going to follow Amanda's directions and make a square dessert in a 9 x 9 pan, you will need 2 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and 1/2 cup of butter to make the crust. If you are going to use a pie shell, you can omit those.
For the filling, you will need to soften 1/2 cup of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese.
Combine the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. I finally broke out my Hamilton Beach stand mixer and used it for the mixing tasks. Once the cream cheese and butter are blended, incorporate 2 cups of powdered sugar one cup at a time. Beat until smooth. Blend in one tablespoon of drained, crushed pineapple from a 20-ounce can.
Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the crust.
Mix together 8 ounces of Cool Whip with the rest of the crushed pineapple.
Put the Cool Whip and pineapple mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture.
Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
Raise a glass or cup of whatever you like to drink with pie and say a toast to the memory of a relative, or you can say a toast to my Great-Aunt Isabelle if you can't think of a relative that you'd like to toast.
Cie the Ornery Old Lady
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Ghost Town Grover Sez:
"I know y'all said that pie was easy to make, Ornery, but it shore does taste fancy!"
Cactus Clem Sez:
"Ornery, y'all really need to git some more of that pineapple juice. That right there is the best part of the pineapple!"
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