Butter tarts

A couple of days ago, on checking my emails, one came to me from a years-and-years-ago friend, obviously a longtime-dedicated reader of my column.

It read, like this: “Hi Barrie. Someday, when you are not too busy, see if you can find Eun’s recipe for her famous butter tarts in that cookbook you were talking about … in the Advertiser. I will practice making them till I get to see you. How’s that for a good idea? Joe thinks it’s great too. Talk later. M”

I care not to divulge ancient memories of tales better left untold, but to keep readers current, and with reason updated, M is short for Mary and Eun, likewise shortened, is for Eunice followed by Jean.

Eunice Jean, four years later, having been lured by the swagger of the nuptial knot, became whom most readers knew as my “Little Lady.”

Having said that, I’ll go on to say this: I met Mary about half an hour previous to meeting my Little Lady. We, Mary and I, were standing on the top of a railway boxcar, waiting on a sidetrack. It was loaded with cattle slated for the slaughterhouse further down the tracks the next morning.  The tracks were behind the row of houses across the dead-end street from the house where my Little Lady then lived.

Why we were up there is now beyond recollection by memory, but both being in our upper late teens, I have reason to believe that thoughts lingering back then equaled that of a mountain climber, simply “because it was there.”

And it was from up there, on that lofty perch, that we decided to cross the street and meet my future Little Lady.

She was sitting cross-legged, on a well-worn old chesterfield chair, which, along with the chesterfield, adorned the across-the-front, street-facing veranda.  

Knowing well that the first three items on any food list that was suggested any time by yours truly were butter tarts, butter tarts and butter tarts, it’s no surprise that it was from her, my Little Lady, in later years that I learnt how to make them from scratch. If my memory fails me not, it goes in the general direction of this:

For the base:  ½ cup of butter, ¼ cup of brown sugar, and 1¼ cups of flour. For the filling: ½ cup of butter, add a few drops of white vinegar to 2 tbsp. of milk, 1 tsp. of vanilla, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. of flour, 1 beaten egg and 1 cup of large raisins.

Base: Cream together butter and sugar and mix in flour. Press into tart tins, and if you want to get fancy, trim the overhanging edges with pinking shears. Then shove into the oven at 350F for 15 minutes.

Filling: Mix together butter, soured milk, vanilla, sugar and flour. Blend in the beaten egg. Add raisins and mix thoroughly. Spoon them into tart tins, plunk, plunk, plunk. The little trimmings from the pinking shears were shaped into little hearts, stars and happy faces, and placed in the centre of each tart, then bake at 275F for 25 minutes. Don’t over-cook if you like them juicy and runny.

Umm, umm, good!

So there you have it, Mary – and be sure to tell Joe that it is certainly okay to quality taste-check several times while still warm, when first out of the oven.

Take care, ‘cause we care.





Barrie Hopkins