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FOREWORD to a blog post?Well, yes. This post is part of a covered-dish/food blogging cook-up, whereby a bunch of my fellow food bloggers cook on a theme, once a month and share them under the hashtag #LetsLunch. Check us out on twitter, or scroll down to the end of this post where I’ve listed this month’s contributing food writers. Delicious, creative, fascinating posts. You will have a good time Lunching with us! Thanks for visiting my blog right here. And now, back to Edna Lewis’s Tyler Pie…

Tyler pie is an old-school pie, still known and loved in its original home of central Virginia where its namesake, President Tyler, was born and raised. Whether he actually loved it or ate it there or elsewhere is something we cannot know, but we do know a bit about this splendid dessert because Edna Lewis tells us about it in her magnificent cookbook, “The Taste of Country Cooking”, published in 1977 and still in print and cherished today. Tyler pie is a luscious version of egg custard pie, with more sugar, more butter, and a splash of lemon extract.  I had read about Tyler pie, which has also been called Tyler pudding throughout history, even with its crust and other pie-like qualities, but had never had one until this year. I came across one in Richmond, Virginia last June, during a delightful walking tour led by Richmond Food Tours, a tour which included stops at excellent bakeries.  Inspired, I began baking Tyler pie and find that many people share my delight in this classic pie.


I love walking tours, especially ones like this one which treated us to bakeries, neighborhoods, historic churchyards, restaurants and more.


Southern Foodways Alliance organized a Richmond tour back in June, and that is why I ended up strolling the fascinating city and having my first up close and personal encounter with Tyler Pie.





I loved “Well-Made Pastry Alliance/WPA Bakery”, and wish I could be a frequent visitor.


When my friend Michael Twitty came over for supper during July, I served him some Tyler Pie and he fell for it right way. Mike had an event coming up in September, a culinary history celebration at Historic Stagville, a plantation outside Durham NC which is a North Carolina Historic Site. Mike had plenty to do as organizer and guiding light for Stagville Harvest Festival which took place on September 7th. I joined a group of pie-loving friends to become a member of the Pie Brigade, whose mission it was to supply  pies to the event so that people could have a ‘taste of the past’ in a beautiful, moving setting on an early fall day.


Here’s Mike Twitty cooking turnip greens over the fire in a cast iron skillet.


Here my friend Colleen Minton, founding director of TerraVITA Food & Wine Event (October 10-12, 2013 here in Chapel Hill), leads a discussion with Chef and Cookbook Author Hugh Acheson, who traveled from Atlanta to join Mike Twitty in a memorable day of cooking, eating, and conversation.


I took this photo of the discussion from the back so that I could include the handsome huge ancient  black walnut tree shading us on a sunny afternoon.


Here is the Historic Stagville Pie Brigade on that memorable day! Me on the left in red; Matthew Glassman, Debbie Moose, and Claire Cusick.


Debbie Moose was our Pie Wrangler and Brigade Commander, making sure that tempting tastes of multiple pies were out to delight event guests all afternoon. People enjoyed them so much. Each Pie Brigade member brought several old-school pies. Mine were two Tyler pies and two wild persimmon pies, the latter made with frozen persimmon puree from last year’s crop.



There are but two of Debbie Moose’s excellent and seasonal blackberry pies. She has got that lattice-top crust DOWN!!! They were as just as good as they looked. Wish I had photos of Claire Cusick’s glorious apple pies, Matthew Glassman’s oatmeal pies and white sweet potato pies, and Marcie Cohen Ferris’s apple pies, but I appear to have been distracted by eating their samples.  Here’s the recipe for Tyler pie:

RECIPE:  Edna Lewis’s Tyler Pie
2 9-inch pie crusts
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb) of slightly melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2  cups milk
To make the pie:
Keep the piecrust chilled while you prepare the fillling ingredients.
  1. Beat the eggs well in a large bowl.
  2. Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl and stir to mix well.
  3. Add the sugar mixture to the beaten eggs and mix well.
  4. Add the butter, vanilla, and lemon extract, and stir to mix everything together well.
  5. Add the milk.
  6. After one final stirring, pour the filling into your pie crust pans, dividing it evenly between the two..
  7. Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until filling is set and handsomely browned.                                    Males 2 pies

This post is part of #LetsLunch , a monthly food bloggers’ community celebration, where lots of wonderful writers/cooks/photographers post on the same topic. This month it’s “Pie!”. Here are some of my friends’ posts on the subject for your reading cooking pleasure. More coming right here later today, so do check back…. Okay, I just posted this update. A few more to come but this gives you lots of Pie Pleasure and Inpiration. All my food blogging pals had a mighty good time making pie, and I think you will love reading and seeing what they cooked up. Follow them for e-mail inbox inspiration…..

#LetsLunch Pie Posts:

Annabelle‘s Chocolate Pie at Glass of Fancy

Anne Marie‘s Apple Pie Sandwiches at Sandwich Surprise

Betty Ann‘s Calamansi Pie at Asian In America

Cheryl‘s Mexican Cottage Pie at A Tiger in the Kitchen

Jill‘s Guava and Cream Cheese Empanadas at Eating My Words

Lisa‘s Sweet Ricotta Noodle Pie at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lisa K‘s Chocolate Pie at Open Salon

Linda‘s Biscoff Banana & Pear Galette at Spicebox Travels

Lucy‘s Sweet Potato Custard Pie at A Cook and Her Books 

Margaret‘s Cushaw (Squash) Pie at Tea and Scones, Too

Nancie‘s Edna Lewis’s Tyler Pie at Nancie McDermott

Naomi‘s Huckleberry Pie Ice-Cream at The Gastro Gnome

Sara‘s Herb Pie from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s “Jerusalem” at Three Clever Sisters

Falling in love with this splendid cookbook is as easy as pie. You’ll find recipes and reminiscences of life in Freetown, Virginia back in the early part of the twentieth century, shared in beautiful prose and practical recipes by the great Edna Lewis.

To learn more  about Michael Twitty’s work and travels, check out his blog here:

I’ll leave you with a clue about the kind of pie I’m hungry for now:  Black Walnut!  That glorious black walnut tree shading Mr. Twitty and company during their conversation on September 7th has a good but still green crop of black walnuts; And I’m hoping to get some black walnuts later this fall for Thanksgiving pie-making.


About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
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  3. A Tiger in the Kitchen Reply

    I’ve never had Tyler Pie but now I’ve got to try some! I have to say, you have very lucky friends. I love all the pics of your celebration…wish I could have been there!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      We need to get you down here for some cooking and eating, Ms. Tan! One of these days. Many thanks, so kind. I love #LetsLunch and your book, very much.

  4. teaandscones2 Reply

    This looks so good. I haven’t had a pie like this in AGES.

    Food Tour!! What an awesome way to spend the day!!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      hahahahaha I know, right? Simple old-school goodness in that pie, and such a feast for tummy, eyes, mind, and spirit at that event. Love cooking with people, and cooking-gatherings, and culinary history come to life, and by the way, the food tasted SO GOOD. Thanks for these kind words.

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  8. Rebecca Reply

    What a wonderful post! I love the Pie Brigade (and I’m a fan of Mike’s, too). Simply spectacular….

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, Rebecca, so kind. It was a marvelous day in so many ways, and I’ll be sharing more about it very soon. I just posted his picture of the yeast rolls he made out under the shade trees, and cooked in a dutch oven in the coals, on our @CHOP NC Facebook page. They were unbelievably beautiful and so tasty, and they just came together so fast. One minute he was gathering roll-makers to help shape them, and next minute there they were. Not ‘quick and easy’, but yes, in fact, quick, and easy, and deeply good.

      • Rebecca Reply

        I can just imagine what a day that was. So glad you were there to share in it all. x

        • Nancie McDermott Reply

          You’re right — it was a precious, deep experience, festive, poignant, and inspiring, with a fascinating feast and lively company to ground us all in the ordinary-ness of it. Many of us were murmuring, “They need to do this again!” If they do, I’m so in… Thanks for reading and commenting here.

  9. Free Range Cookies Reply

    Looks delicious! I couldn’t help but notice “gf” on pie signage. What an unexpected delight! By the way, I just got your Southern Pies as a gift and love it. So much inspiration.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      I know, right? I meant to comment on that — it was an extra delight to me, because it shows that they are offering lots of good things for lots of people, and not just one item on the side. Which is a great start, not to knock any generosity that any business can provide. Thank you for your kind words; honored.

  10. Lucy Reply

    Love Edna Lewis’ cookbook and this new-to-me Tyler Pie. Such a lovely setting made even more beautiful by PIE! And I’m very envious of your friend’s lattice crust skills!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Me, too, Lucy. I have fallen in love with that book all over again, finding recipes and essays that I had never noticed before.”Treasure” is the appropriate word, right? And Pie lifts any occasion up, right? That Debbie Moose — she has got that down. I have never done one right — I start and then say Oh Bother! and just lay them out in two layers. I need to barter with her for a how-to session, whereby I bring her some Asian ingredients and she shares that skill…Thanks for reading.

  11. Adri Reply

    This pie looks wonderful. Also it look slike you had a wonderful afternoon!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Many thanks, Adri. We did, indeed, in multiple ways. Hoping it will become an annual event…

  12. sippitysup Reply

    Two things.
    First: I get a huge shipment of black walnuts sent to me every year by a friend’s mom’s tree in MO. Well, actually she sends them to him but he won’t eat them. Don’t let that story get out, ok? His mom thinks he loves black walnuts.
    Second: Another story to keep (from my California friends). I miss the south. I miss sitting on the lawn where everyone can see you… XOGREG

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Your secret is safe with me, Sir. I completely adore that story, because it is the perfect resolution, everybody getting what they need, you helping your friend, love expressed between them without letting Black Walnut Affinity/Lack Of get in the way. Come on out here and visit some time. We’ve got lawn, screened in porch, gliders, the works!

  13. sippitysup Reply

    OH, and third. Will I easily find your recipe for persimmon pie when I look next month? My persimmons are looking promising this year.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Yes, indeed, you certainly will. I adore them and am looking to expand my repertoire, though the pie is wonderful enough, as is old-school persimmon pudding. I read about persimmon cookies ,and why not pound cake? Might be a reason, but I know how to find out. I’ll keep you posted….

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  15. spicebox travels Reply

    This looks so delish! And now you have me wanting your recipe for persimmon pie. I’m loving San Francisco summer right now, but when it ends I’ll have persimmons to look forward to– cannot wait.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Many thanks, and I will gladly share it with you. Love San Francisco so much — what a spectacular place on this earth, the beautiful delicious city. Thanks for stopping by, and happy fall…

  16. aneye4detailLibby Reply

    Nancie: Nice to “meet” you today! You have a “no-reply” blogger address, so there is no way to email you directly, thus this comment!.
    But also, from reading above, I have to say that Edna Lewis is a large part of the reason we came to this area, and also found Fearrington Village. I adored following her in Gourmet in the late 70’s (I think) and also tasted her cooking in NYC at Cafe Nicholson under the 59th St. bridge… But I was absolutely smitten with the images of this magical place near Chapel Hill where she cooked!
    Last, I must try Tyler pie. It looks fabulous and just the kind of thing we like.
    Maybe we can get together this winter, when Mary James returns!

  17. bettyannq @Mango_Queen Reply

    Oh my husband will love this custard pie. It’s the old traditional recipes that are always the best. Plus I trust your choice of a recipe. This will be perfect at our dinner table soon. Thanks for all the blog support, the warmth of your friendship and sweet welcome to the #LetsLunch group. Someday soon, I hope we can share a cup of tea, a slice of pie and share lots of stories. Have a great week, Nancie!

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