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Urban Farmer Holiday Pies


Classie Parker carries on Holiday family tradition with Buttermilk Coconut Custard Pie and Deep Dish Sweet Potato Pie. The recipes were handed down by her mother, Lela Walker.

“All these things that I'm cooking I learned from my mother. She lived with Dad for 57 years and died in 1997."¯

Buttermilk Coconut Custard Pie
2 cups grated fresh coconut (can be store bought)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup regular milk - you can use part coconut milk from the fresh coconut
deep dish pie crust (can be store bought)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat everything together in the order stated, then add a pat of melted butter and pour the mixture into a pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes. “Just before it gets done, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and you're ready to go."¯

Ms. Parker won a Blue Ribbon at the 2004 Green Thumb Harvest Fair in Brooklyn for the following Sweet Potato Pie. She grew the sweet potatoes in the Five-Star Garden. “They were awesome."¯

Classie's Blue-Ribbon Deep Dish Sweet Potato Pie
(makes 2 pies)
8 or 9 sweet potatoes or yams
1 stick butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 ½ tablespoon nutmeg
1 cup milk to make it creamy
3 eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla or 1 fresh lemon squeezed and seeds removed
deep dish pie crust
“My momma said if you don't have enough of the filling, how can you taste the pie?"¯

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil potatoes and pull off the skins. Put them in a bowl and mash with the butter while hot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix it up real smooth. “I do hand-mixing. I like to take my time and make sure there are no lumps. Then I taste it. If it tastes good to me it's going to taste good to someone else." Slowly pour the mix into a deep dish pie crust to make a one-inch thick pie. Make sure it's full. Bake for about an hour and let it cook slow. It's going to make your house smell so good.

TIP: “I add baking powder so it can rise and give it a little thickness, and to make it a little more creamy. If you don't have vanilla, just squeeze in a lemon but remember to remove the seeds. Or grate the lemon peel and put that in for the flavor. That's old school."

Classie Parker is a community gardener, president and founding member of the Five-Star Garden in Harlem and urban farmer. She is treasurer of the Manhattan Land Trust. She teaches workshops on home-canning at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Restoration Project community gardens, and for a grammar school program called “Cook Shop," where her image was put into a learning tool coloring book. The kids call her the “Collard Green Farmer."¯

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published December 04, 2004

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