My favorite food Christmas tradition… Ma Perry’s boiled custard

As far back as I can remember as a little girl, I have fond memories of our big Perry family gatherings… my FAV being at Christmastime.  I had one hellofa good cook’n grandma Perry, who we grandchildren call “Ma Per.”  Although not rich folks, I suppose back in those days, they may have been considered by some to have a lot.  She was a retired school teacher, and Daddy Pur owned the Pearces community store.  It was one of those stores that had a little of this, that and the other.  My older cousin Karen and I would “play grocery store”…. even back then I LOVED grocery shopping as I still do.  Daddy Per would let us “shop” in the store, then we would bring our groceries up to the counter where he would ring them all up.  Then, we’d have to go put them all back where they came from!

While we were doing that, a posse of old men (that wouldn’t seem so old now!) would be gathered around the wood stove, playing Rook, or Checkers.  I still love to play Rook, and I learned watching the best… a “fierce” Rook player is mildly describing my “style” of Rook play’n.  You don’t hear tell of Rook much anymore, so if you read this and are a Rook player, let me hear from you!

Daddy Per’s store was 1/2 the community centerpiece.  The other half was right across the road… Pearce Baptist Church!  I grew up in that church and my sweet mama played the organ there for 36 years… rarely missing a Sunday and one of the few was the Sunday before she sailed away to Heaven.  When she was so very sick with Ovarian Cancer, one of the few things she wanted to eat in her final months was this protein filled custard.  Mama would ask me to make her some and when she couldn’t keep anything else down, she stayed nourished with Boiled Custard.  She especially loved it frozen like ice cream.  This, and baked skillet cornbread, were what kept her going near the end.

OK… back to my story!
While Daddy Per was busy out at the store selling groceries and farm supplies, Ma Per was busy next door cook’n… they had 5 children… 4 boys and 1 girl.  Daddy Per died when I was only 4, but I do have a few memories of him.  Ma Per was around until I was 12 so I do have a few memories of her kitchen.  She cooked 3 meals a day… and there was always a big plate of biscuits on the table and soft butter to mash together with molasses.  All those Perry children and their children would gather at the homeplace at Christmastime.  I could hardly wait, because there would be pitchers and punch bowl of Boiled Custard that she had made.  She served it with a big bowl of sweetened strawberries she had “put up” the summer before from her garden.  I really didn’t even want to eat any of all that other food she had made, I just wanted BOILED CUSTARD!  And although daddy’s brothers and sister have their own grown children with their children now and we no longer gather, getting in my kitchen to make this takes me back to those days so long ago when the excitement and magic of Christmas was such a happy time and place.  My sweet nephew Wyatt is nine now, and tonight we talked about making Boiled Custard for Christmas.  I hope he keeps this family tradition alive for generations to come.

I cannot believe in all my pictures there are none of boiled custard, so I’ll fix that this year. I’ll be sure to come back after Wyatt and I get in the kitchen next week and make this Christmas’ batch of this yummmy stuff!  (post edited… picture added below)

Until then, enjoy the recipe and a few old pics to take us down Perry Memory Lane.

This is my Ma and Daddy Per (Perry).  Daddy Per died when I was four, so I think this was his last Christmas.  This is a VERY RARE picture of him because he isn’t wearing his Fedora.  I always heard that if his hat was dipped to the left, leave him be.  But if tipped to the right, all was well.

Ma & Daddy Pur...circa Christmas 1963
Ma & Daddy Pur…circa Christmas 1963

A few decades ago, I put together a Perry family cookbook.  I vowed not to publish it until every single Perry in our clan contributed at least ONE recipe… and for the wee ones, a drawing of some food.  It took a spell, but finally accomplished this goal. This is the cover of that book…

The J.W. Perry Family Cookbook
The J.W. Perry Family Cookbook

And this is one of my fav pictures that’s on the back of the book.  Few folks are lucky enough to have three other living generations to be able to have a picture like this… me, daddy (Hal), Ma Perry and her mama, Mammy Chamblee!

4 gens!
4 gens!

As far as I know, this is the only place Ma Per’s Boiled Custard recipe is published.  And although it may be “the” recipe of many other ladies of her time, for me, it’s My Ma Per’s recipe…and there are few things better!

Ma Pur's Boiled Custard recipe in my cookbook!
Ma Pur’s Boiled Custard recipe in my cookbook!

Do you like Boiled Custard?  Was it part of your family’s goodies growing up?  If so, please share your BC memories in the comments box…
…Enjoy, and Merry Christmas Y’all!

Family traditions…. we don’t have too many in my family, but I’m planning to pass this one along to Wyatt, starting with our first time making it together this year… oh, how I do love this little fellow!

boiled custard day with Wyatt
Boil Custarding with Wyatt!

Want to make your boiled custard experience even better?  Add some Krispy Kreme Kroutons n top… or just for nibblin. 

Note: This boiled custard has always been a family tradition for us Perrys.  I was only 12 when my Mama Perry (“Ma Pur” to us) left us, but she made lots of this for our big family to enjoy at every Christmas gathering.  She would also sit out a bowl of sweetened strawberries she had “put up” from the summer before.  Some like it with a dollop of the berries while some just want it plain.  I love it either way.  When my mama was sick with Ovarian Cancer, the chemo would wreak havoc on her taste buds and appetite.  But she would ask me to make her some of this when she couldn’t eat or keep anything else down.  She would get good nourishment and protein from the custard, and sometimes I would freeze in little cups she could enjoy like ice cream! 

On a funny note… when my sister Tiana was getting married years ago, we played a game at her bachelorette party where she had to answer questions I asked her then fiancé Matt in advance to see how well they knew each other.  I asked him what was something he didn’t like to eat that she thought he did like.  His answer was “custard,” and although I thought that was a weird answer, I didn’t think any more about it.  At her party, I don’t remember her answer, but it wasn’t custard!  When I told her he said that, she was bumfuzzled.  As soon as we got back home, we asked him about this custard thing.  He blushed and with trepidation said… “you know that custard stuff your family has EVERY Christmas?  Well I don’t like it!”  We just died laughing at him… over the years, he has come to like it, but at that stage in his entry into our family, pretended to like our custard tradition when he couldn’t stand it.  We kept him anyway.

This recipe featured in Carolina Country Magazine November 2017.
Food propping/styling and photography © (copyrighted) by 
Wendy Perry.
Carolina Country Magazine Contributing Recipes Editor

Disclosure:  I only use and recommend products here I use myself. I may receive a small commission from affiliate links on this or other posts on this web site at no additional costs to you.

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My favorite food Christmas tradition... Ma Perry's boiled custard

Course: Beverages, Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Southern, Southern Desserts
Author: Wendy Perry

Ingredients

  • ½ gallon sweet milk*
  • 2 tall cans (12 ounce) Pet milk
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, blended till frothy
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla

Instructions

  • Over double boiler in thickest pot add milks and sugar. Stir constantly until this ALMOST boils. (This can take up to about 30minutes.) 
  • Slowly pour in the eggs,stirring rapidly with whisk to keep them from "cooking" when added.  Bring mixture to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to medium, stirring often. 
  • Continue to cook for about 45 minutesor until custard coats metal spoon. Remove from heat.  Add 1tablespoon vanilla and more sugar if necessary. 
  • Cool in freezer until freezing begins around edges.  Shake and serve.
    The consistency should be somewhat thick but still pourable. 

Notes

*In the old days, "sweet milk" was often used when referring to whole milk so as to not confuse with buttermilk.
This boiled custard has always been a family tradition for us Perrys.  I was only 12 when my Mama Perry (“Ma Pur” to us) left us, but she made lots of this for our big family to enjoy at every Christmas gathering.  She would also sit out a bowl of sweetened strawberries she had "put up" from the summer before.  Some like it with a dollop of the berries while some just want it plain.  I love it either way.  When my mama was sick with Ovarian Cancer, the chemo would wreak havoc on her taste buds and appetite.  But she would ask me to make her some of this when she couldn't eat or keep anything else down.  She would get good nourishment and protein from the custard, and sometimes I would freeze in little cups she could enjoy like ice cream! 
On a funny note... when my sister Tiana was getting married years ago, we played a game at her bachelorette party where she had to answer questions I asked her then fiancé Matt in advance to see how well they knew each other.  I asked him what was something he didn't like to eat that she thought he did like.  His answer was "custard," and although I thought that was a weird answer, I didn't think any more about it.  At her party, I don't remember her answer, but it wasn't custard!  When I told her he said that, she was bumfuzzled.  As soon as we got back home, we asked him about this custard thing.  He blushed and with trepidation said... "you know that custard stuff your family has EVERY Christmas?  Well I don't like it!"  We just died laughing at him... over the years, he has come to like it, but at that stage in his entry into our family, pretended to like our custard tradition when he couldn't stand it.  We kept him anyway
 

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