One of my most practiced hobbies besides cooking and sewing is crocheting.  You might say I’m hooked on it.  My mother taught me how when I was around five or six years old, and I have made countless items since. 

I started out making long chains; when I mastered that step, Mom showed me how to single crochet and then double crochet.  I learned to create headbands for myself using yarn scraps from my mom’s projects.  While looking through my grade school pictures, I was surprised to find that in most of them, I was wearing a crocheted headband. 

As I have mentioned many times before, I love to clip out recipes; however, I don’t think I have revealed that I have a whole lot of crochet patterns cut out from various sources.  During the past couple of years, I have organized them in a notebook.  Now when I want to make a scarf, I can look in that section of my notebook instead of having to dig through a whole stack of patterns.

Mom was not very good at reading patterns.  When she had difficulty, she went to the neighbor across the street for help.  By the time I was interested in using directions to create a crochet project, I was old enough to figure them out for myself.  I found a “how to” stitch guide in a women’s magazine and practiced needed stitches until I could do them easily.  The art of crochet is wonderfully forgiving; all I have to do is pull the yarn until I reach a mistake and begin again from that point.

Several days ago, I was flipping through my crochet pattern notebook.  In the sweater section, I found one that brought back memories.  Featured on the cover of the January 1974 edition of Woman’s Day magazine was a houndstooth blazer.  I was in college at the time, and I decided I would like to have that particular garment for myself.  I purchased the yarn and went to work. 

During that period of my crocheting, my stitches were way too tight.  Even though the pieces of the sweater were precisely by the pattern, they were very stiff.  In fact, they were so stiff that when sewed together, the sweater could stand up by itself.  When I put it on, I could hardly bend my arms.  I was quite disappointed, yet all was not lost.  My younger sister ended up wearing the sweater for a winter coat.

After that experience, I developed my own way to hold the yarn in order to loosen the tension.  I have made sweaters, afghans, scarves, shawls, and other items since; none of them being as stiff as that houndstooth blazer was.  I am thankful that I didn’t give up on what has become a favorite pastime.  Many evenings often find me curled up in my recliner watching a movie on television, crochet hook in hand.

Reminiscing over, I will return to my other collection of clippings – recipes.  I had almost forgotten Pie Day, which is supposed to be easy to remember.  As easy as 1-23.  I realize that this column will appear in the newspaper on Pie Day; however, the recipes are good year round.  I spotted “Tortilla Pie” in a Southern Living cookbook and thought it would be a good one to try since not everyone wants dessert.  I made it for my Saturday lunch and am happy to report it turned out to be yummy.

“Lemon Impossible Pie” was my Sunday venture in baking.  It has to chill after cooking, so make sure to plan for that if you decide to make one.  It was quite good, although I thought it could use more lemon flavor.  The ingredient list has coconut as an option; I opted not to use it.

The other recipes are repeats from several years back.

Tortilla Pie

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

1 cup chunky salsa

8 ounces prepared guacamole

1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mexican cheese blend

Garnishes: fresh cilantro sprigs, sour cream

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well.  Set aside.

Place 1 tortilla in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan.; spread with half of bean mixture; top with another tortilla.  Spread with 1/2 cup salsa; top with a tortilla.  Spread with half of guacamole; top with tortilla.  Sprinkle with half of cheese; top with tortilla. 

Repeat layers, ending with cheese; cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until pie is thoroughly heated.  Cut into wedges; garnish, if desired.  Yield: 6 servings.

Note: Add meat to this dish by including shredded cooked chicken or cooked and crumbled

ground beef or turkey in the first cheese layer.

Lemon Impossible Pie

2 cups whole milk

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, optional

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted  (use 1/4 cup if not using coconut)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, separated

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour a 9-inch pie dish.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and egg yolks together until thick and ribbony, then mix in melted butter and milk.

One by one, beat in egg whites, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Mix in vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest, then gradually mix in flour until just combined.

Fold in coconut flakes, if using. (Note: if not using coconut, only add 1/4 cup butter.)

Pour batter into greased pie dish and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until center is just set, but still slightly wobbly.

Remove pie from oven; let cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Once chilled, slice, serve and enjoy!  Serves 8.

Frozen Hawaiian Pie

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-ounce) container frozen, whipped topping, thawed

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (may use tidbits)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 (medium-sized) ripe bananas, mashed (NOT over-ripe)

1 large orange, peeled and sectioned (may use drained mandarin oranges)

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

3/4 cup maraschino cherries

2 (9-inch) graham cracker crusts

Garnishes (optional):  chopped pineapple, maraschino cherries, chopped walnuts,

whipped topping, toasted coconut, fresh mint sprigs

Stir together condensed milk and whipped topping in a large bowl.  Fold in next 7 ingredients.  Pour into graham cracker crusts.

Cover and freeze 12 hours or until firm.  Remove from freezer and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  Garnish, if desired.  Makes 2 pies.

Water-Whipped Baked Pastry Shell

3/4 cup shortening

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 cup boiling water

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

Place first 3 ingredients into a small, deep bowl; beat at medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy and liquid is incorporated.

Add flour and salt; beat at low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.  Divide in half.  Shape each portion into a ball.  Wrap and chill at least 2 hours.  Will keep in refrigerator for 1 week.

For pie shell, bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.