Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Help

I read "The Help" and saw the movie.  I liked and "enjoyed" them both.  They are both excellent works of art.  This doesn't mean I didn't feel some emotions that took me back to the South and segregation.  Honestly, I had to tell myself several times, this is a movie, this is fiction.  However, for some of us, the movie was real.  You see, at one time, my mother was 'the help'.  I have heard some people imitating Abileen, "you is smart, you is beautiful'.  I believe Abileen was doing the best she could to teach this child some values. 

What I want to do in this post is pay tribute to "The Help".  These people did "menial" labor with a great deal of grace and courage.  They struggled as sharecroppers, pullman porters, and maids to make a living and a life.  They did the best they could with what they had.  In spite of their circumstances, they believed in a better day.  Yule May stole a ring so that her sons could go to college.  She just wanted a better life for them than she had. 

Despite their jobs, I see a lot of humor.   I see Minny taking great pride in her cooking.  As she says, "Minny, don't burn no chicken".  Abileen takes great pride in her ability to raise white children. 

Regardless of your feelings about the movie, we owe a lot to the Minnies and Abileens of this world.  They paved the way for the rest of us.  It is on their shoulders that we stand.  Had they not done what they did, I might not be doing what I am doing.  So to all those who paved the way, Thanks. 

Here is my version of Minny's famous chocolate pie.  If you decide to watch the Oscars, please have a slice of pie in honor of Minny.

Chocolate Cream Pie


6 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, finely ground
4 Tablespoons butter, melted


3 egg yolks
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¾ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla flavor

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium bowl, mix  cookie crumbs with butter until crumbs are evenly coated.  Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.  Press evenly over the bottom and up the side of the pan to form a crust.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Allow to cool completely.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, ¼ cup sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and ¼ cup sugar.  Heat until the milk forms bubbles around the edge of pan.  Gradually add add milk to egg yolk mixture. 

4.  Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add chocolate and vanilla.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted. 

5.  Strain chocolate mixture through a fine mesh sieve into pie crust.  Smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.  Press a piece of plastic directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

6.  In a medium bowl, beat the cream, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Spread whipped cream over pie.  Garnish with grated chocolate and serve.

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