It’s not every day someone approaches me in public and hands over a recipe that they love or is a family favorite. The first time this happened I was at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was late afternoon and warm for October... it was Oklahoma State University’s Homecoming (which I am a proud Alumnus), and I was probably on my ninth beer of the day. It is also safe to say, I was probably not looking that great or smelling that great… but I can say with authority I was having a great time.
I noticed an older woman staring at me and frantically writing on an Eskimo Joe’s cocktail napkin… much like a younger woman these days would be frantically texting something to a friend. The woman then gets up and heads my way with several cocktail napkins in hand, and a sort of smile on her face. looking me right in the eyes. My first thought was that she is a mute, and needs to tell me the zipper to my shorts are down (I was having issues with that this day anyway, so it seemed plausible). After a quick check to assure everything down there was “up”, my second thought was she’s coming at me with a recipe. Why had I thought this? Not sure, but sure enough she did have a recipe and wanted to tell me all about it.
It turned out she was the mother of a Facebook friend of mine and had seen some of my posts. Yes, I have secured my privacy settings since then, and that she had been to “Scotty’s” Restaurants in Nichols Hills Plaza years ago. This woman liked my Jezebel sauce, but she liked her version of Jezebel a lot more, and wanted to tell me all about it. I’m not sure if she wanted to sway my opinion of mine and start using hers, but we ended up having a nice discussion about her version (She added apple jelly and mustard powder), versus mine. Needless to stay I have stuck with my version of Jezebel Sauce, I received my tenth beer of the day courtesy of this woman, and no one has approached me with a recipe since then… Until earlier this week.
Beth, we will call her Beth since I did not get her last name, waved me down at my favorite Homeland grocery store in Oklahoma City while I was finishing up some shopping for my daily client.
“Scotty, hold on I have to give you something! “ Beth said hobbling over (she hurt her leg or ankle working one of her jobs) “I've been meaning to give this to you and now I can!”.
Digging around in her purse, this woman about for inches shorter than I, with salt and pepper hair and a few years younger than my mother, pulls out a handwritten recipe on spiral notebook paper called SUNNY BANANA PIE. Proud as punch, Beth was, she handed it to me and proceeded to tell me that although it’s real “simple” in ingredients and nothing “fancy” like I would make, she wanted me to have it and to try it out for myself. Once living in Hawaii, it was something Beth would make for her husband and children and had been a family favorite for years, and of course, made its way back to the mainland and Oklahoma City. Of course, I’m thinking something with fresh bananas, fresh pineapple, and shaved coconut, tossed in a lightly sweetened cream, and piled into a macadamia nut crust... or something along those lines. No, it was prepared graham cracker crust, cream cheese, and instant pudding mix, with sliced bananas.
You know I love when people talk food with me. I loved it when the woman at Eskimo Joe’s lobbied for me to switch my Jezebel Sauce recipe to hers. I especially loved Beth waving me down, holding on to a recipe to give me in hopes that she would see me at the Homeland (as she had done many times before apparently), and approach me with a recipe she knew was nothing special “on paper”, but held good memories that her family has enjoyed over the years. That’s special, and the pride she took, standing there watching me read her recipe and grinning from ear-to-ear, was truly something that warmed my heart.
Thanking Beth and letting her know I was honored to have it, I told her I couldn’t wait to make her Sunny Banana Pie! I also told her I may switch it around a bit, post it on my blog to share with you, or maybe even stick it in my cookbook, but that I would let everyone know it was HER pie and that she gave me the recipe. Y’all, that woman’s face lit up like a Christmas tree!
So without further ado, because I know you’re here for the recipe, and this story is full of run on sentences, here is my Deep Dish version of BETH’S SUNNY BANANA PIE. It’s keeping in line with Beth’s original recipe, somewhat. I basically doubled the ingredients, made my own graham cracker crust, and switched out the vanilla pudding for banana pudding. The added vanilla extract takes away the harshness of artificial banana flavoring yet heightening the added flavor for being a “banana pie”. Beth and I hope you enjoy!
Beth’s Sunny Banana Pie
2 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, plus 1/4 cup toasted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks of salted butter (12 tablespoons) melted
5-6 whole medium bananas, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2-8ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 3 1/4 ounce packages Instant Banana Pudding
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt your butter in a saucepan slowly then remove from the heat. In a large mixing bowl add the graham cracker crumbs, one cup unsweetened coconut, and the sugar. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and mix until the crumbs resemble wet sand.
In a 9” deep pie dish pour the graham cracker crumb mixture in and begin to press out into the bottom and up the sides of the dish. This is going to give you a nice thick crust… like any graham cracker crust should be! Using the flat end of a cup measure press the mixture in firmly and evenly, letting the smooth bottom and side of the cup do the work for you. Place the pie dish into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven to cool completely.
In a mixing bowl add the softened cream cheese and cream until smooth. Gradually add one cup of the milk and continue mixing. Scape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it another mix.
Add the instant pudding mix along with the remaining 2 cups of milk and the vanilla extract. Mix until combined and the pudding starts to thicken.
Add a layer of sliced bananas to the bottom of the pie. Pour/spoon in half of the filing to cover the bananas and smooth the layer evenly. Add another layer of sliced bananas and top off with the remaining filling.
Smooth and round off the top of the pie. Add toasted coconut on top for presentation. Chill your pie at least 1 hour before slicing.