Romance Cooks

Old Fashioned Muscadine Pie – Sandra Jones

One of the things I loved best about visiting my grandmother’s farm in Arkansas was her cooking, and anything she made with muscadines was a special treat. If you’ve ever seen these grapelike berries, you know they’re a little tough on the outside. Homesteaders learned how to make the best of every part of the muscadine, letting nothing go to waste.

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You will need:

• pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie

• 2 quarts ripe muscadines

• lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

• 2 1/2 cups sugar

• 1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces

Line a pie plate with half of the rolled out pastry. Refrigerate the pie shell and remaining pastry until ready to fill pie.

Mash the muscadines. Separate hulls from pulp and set aside. Strain through a sieve to get juice. (You can use the pulp to make yummy muscadine jelly or discard along with the seed.) Cook the reserved hulls in juice until tender, adding a little water if needed.

Let cool, then add lemon juice, flour, and sugar. Put fruit mixture in the prepared bottom crust. Carefully arrange top crust over fruit, lattice style to allow steam to escape. Flute edge. Bake in a 400° oven for approximately 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° and bake 30 minutes longer.



She played right into his hands.

Possessing uncanny people-reading skills like her mama, Philadelphia “Dell” Samuels has spent thirteen years in her aunt’s rustic Ozarks home, telling fortunes over playing cards and trying to pass as white. But the treacherous Mississippi River childhood her mama dragged her away from finally catches up to her on a steamboat captained by her old friend Rory Campbell.

Known to his crew as the Devil’s Henchman, Rory is a gambler in need of a miracle. Following the cold trail of his boss’s wife and bastard daughter, Dell, Rory has only one goal in mind: saving his crew from the boss’s cruelty by ruining him. The only one who can defeat the Monster of the Mississippi is the man trained to take his place. Rory’s convinced he can lure his boss into a high-stakes game against a rival, and with Dell’s people-reading skills, the monster will lose everything.

Under Rory’s tutelage and protection, Dell agrees to the tortured captain’s plan. Passion and peril quickly bring them together as lovers. But when Rory’s plan goes awry, the lives of the innocent depend on Dell’s ability to read the situation correctly—and hopefully save them all.

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