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Carver Gordon, 83, still cooks for himself and likes to experiment with recipes, including his secret 21st Century Pecan Pie.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Carver Gordon, 83, still cooks for himself and likes to experiment with recipes, including his secret 21st Century Pecan Pie.

In a nutshell
83-year-old works a year to perfect his secret pecan pie recipe

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

Carver Gordon is a 21st century man — at least when it comes to cooking and tinkering with his latest creation, 21st Century Pecan Pie.

He never thought of himself as the cook of the family, but now that he’s 83 and retired, he has more time to experiment in the kitchen.

His wife, Cecilia, “was an excellent cook,” he said, and she did a lot of baking between her duties as a Morgan County Courthouse employee.

But he took over more of the cooking after she had a stroke and they moved in 2002 from Decatur to Hartselle to live in the “in-laws” apartment at the home of his son, Russ Gordon, and family.

Cecilia died May 13, and her husband has found cooking and experimenting with recipes one place to find solace.

“I miss her like crazy,” he said of the wife, who died 31 days short of their 55th wedding anniversary.

Gordon knows his cakes are no match for those of his wife, but he has high hopes for his pies.

“She made cakes from scratch and was featured in The Decatur Daily twice for her baking and for her Polish dishes reflecting her Pennsylvania background,” he said.

“The only cakes I’ve cooked were from a box,” said Gordon, who also learned a lot about cooking by observing his mother in the kitchen while growing up on a Mississippi farm. His mother-in-law baked cakes and pies for a restaurant in Ohio, and he has a daughter who makes wedding and birthday cakes.

He’s been working for a year to perfect his 21st Century Pecan Pie. Developing this pie has become as much of a hobby for him as painting nature scenes and writing his autobiography for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I wanted it to taste different, and I didn’t want the center to run,” Gordon said.

“Some people eat pecan pie and say it’s too rich and they can’t eat any more, but when you eat mine, you won’t say that.”

Gordon added, “I like food to taste good, and if I think I can make it taste better, I try.”

He demonstrated that when a reporter and photographer came to investigate his pecan pie.

He served them his special version of rice, along with a beef tip roast seasoned with his favorite, Tone’s Canadian Steak Seasoning, and cooked with onions in a Crock-Pot. He also prepared potatoes au gratin, biscuits and sliced tomatoes to accompany the meal.

The secret to his rice, Gordon said, is making it with milk instead of water.

“I prefer China Doll rice,” he said, blowing on some right out of the pan to cool it. He uses 2 percent milk (and he would use less if it were whole milk).

Carver’s Fluffy Rice

1 cup China Doll rice

1 cup 2-percent milk

21/2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

After cooking the rice with those ingredients, basically following directions on the bag, he keeps a kettle of boiling water handy.

“Rice will stiffen up and dry out as it cools, so I add a bit of boiling water to keep it at peak consistency for serving,” he said.

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