Pie, Mama’s “Course I Remembered You Were Coming” Emergency

Pie, Mama’s “Course I Remembered You Were Coming” Emergency

Elizabeth Hancock:
Mama’s “Course I Remembered You Were Coming” Emergency Pie (or SUPER-Emergency Custard)


In Southern churches, food is at the heart of fellowship. It renews the spirit and heals the soul, and if done well, (though certain proud church ladies will deny this to the grave), it glorifies the good chef just as well as the Good Lord. As a preacher’s daughter, no milestone passed in my family’s life that did not trigger the traditional line of Christians-bearing-casseroles at our front door.

But a good recipe was more than mere nourishment. It could, in fact, be one’s ticket to eternity. Over the years, I watched Mama open gift after gift of glossy store-bought cookbooks, though I knew that she hardly used them. Her favorite recipes came from the worn, gravy-spattered volumes on her kitchen shelf – some with cardboard bindings, some just stapled sheets of mimeograph paper – that had been compiled by loving church ladies over the years and sold as fundraisers. Mama would open carefully, as if she was holding a sacred family Bible, and point to a particular recipe, typed by hand on a manual typewriter. She’d say, “Now do you remember Miss _____? Your old choir director who went up to heaven? These are her rolls we’re having today.” And it was as if old Miss _______ had joined us at the table again, smiling her way through our off-key conversations.

As a preacher’s wife, my mother didn’t always have time to offer cuisine worthy of immortality. She had to keep “company food” handy at all times. You never knew when there would be sudden occasion for celebration or mourning among the congregation, or when some church busybody would “happen to drop in” with an item of concern/gossip for my father. As a result, Mama kept these four ingredients stocked at all times, right along with matches and the first-aid kit. It can be assembled without warning in a matter of minutes, yet it just tastes special.

Mama’s “Course I Remembered You Were Coming” Emergency Pie (Or SUPER-Emergency Custard)

Note:  Be sure to purchase two tubs of frozen whipped topping. Sometimes one tub is enough to get the pie the right consistency, but sometimes, for some reason, you need a little more. I believe this is due to the slightly variable amounts of melted lemonade concentrate you get out of each can. The consistency should be like pudding. It will firm a little in the fridge so that you can cut it, but it should not be runny and liquidy when you put it in there, or you’ll end up with a gooey mess instead of a pie.

1 (12-oz). can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 (12-oz). can sweetened condensed milk
2 (12-oz.) tubs frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (see note)
1 (10-inch) graham cracker pie crust (though you often get two pies out of this recipe, so it would be wise to buy an extra)
Berries to garnish (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and lemonade concentrate, stirring with a spoon until the lemonade has completely thawed and the mixture is smooth. Gradually fold in the non-dairy whipped topping until the consistency is thick and fluffy enough for a decent pie filling.

  2. Spoon the mixture into a graham cracker crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or more or less depending on the time you have. (Use this time to chat up your guests and offer iced tea.)

Variation: if it turns out to be a true emergency and you can’t wait for a pie to set, or you don’t have a pie shell on hand, just spoon the mixture into your fancy glasses and serve as a custard (graham cracker pieces make a nice garnish sitting in the custard, if this is the route you go). Now relax and enjoy!

Yield:  1 or 2 10-inch pies