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Mom’s Pecan Pie for Christmas

December 22, 2018

Another Way for week of December 21, 2019

Mom’s Pecan Pie for Christmas

Counting down the days? Many of us indulge at Christmas in once-a-year pies. My father always loved my mother’s pecan pies and I love making them and eating them, because they are so delicious and easy.

But did you ever wonder how pies were first created? I never really thought about it until a great young chef at my church shared some research he had done on the history of pie.

Early pies began with meat pies, according to the American Pie Council and other history of pie websites. My Mom was also famous for her mince pie, and still loves it to this day, and I’m still not a fan. Sorry Mom! But I get that meat pies are how pie came to be. Early pies may have been around with ancient Egyptians using reeds to hold the filling and not eaten (of course). Romans spread the custom of pies to Europe and we usually think of England as being famous for its meat pies of all kinds (think shepherd’s pie, where sometimes the legs of whatever fowl was in the pie hung over the edges of the pie). Ewww. To each their own.

The American Pie Council people remind us that pies became so popular in the U.S. that people even say, “As American as apple pie.” (And do we really need a “council” or association to remind us to eat pie?) Oh and of course there was that 50s song about American pie. But I digress.

Signs of well-worn favorite cookbooks.

Do you enjoy eating the crust of a pie? Probably if it is yummy, and not so much if it is tough and hard. I’ve had (and made) both kinds. The website “What’s Cooking America?” says, “The purpose of a pastry shell was mainly to serve as a baking dish, storage container, and serving vessel, and these were often too hard to actually eat. For hundreds of years, it was the only form of baking container used.” I’m guessing it was hard like homemade playdough. While the royalty or well to do would have eaten the inside of the pie, the hard crust (which would have soaked up some of the yummy filling) might have been given to the servants or those clamoring for food outside their gates. I’m told that when settlers (our immigrant predecessors) sailed to America, pies in long rectangular shapes encasing meat and other veggies were made to hold food for the travelers and stored in the ship’s hold. No wonder people got sick and died on those long trips.

I’ll share my favorite recipe but source it back to a half dozen women who contributed their favorite versions to my first and long time favorite cookbooks, Mennonite Community Cookbook and Fellowship Cooking created by women of North Goshen Mennonite Church where I grew up. The names on the recipes (four different recipes altogether) include Jean Kauffman, Clara Blucker, Lizzie Weaver, Alberta Troyer, Pauline Beachy, Mrs. J.D. Graber and Mrs. John Martin. (Sorry about the names from ye olde Mennonite Community Cookbook which used women’s husband’s names!) I share the names because I know some readers will surely remember the cooks, as I do. And I call this my mother’s recipe because it was her favorite.

Mom’s Pecan Pie

A sign of often-used favorite recipes, adapated and adapted again over time.

3 eggs
1 cup corn syrup (I use half dark, half light)
¼ cup white sugar (or brown, your preference)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
¼ cup water
¾ cup pecans, chopped
Pastry for 1 9-inch crust

Combine sugar, flour and salt. Add beaten eggs. Add water and syrup to egg mixture. Stir.
Add nuts. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 to bake 35 minutes longer. (I recommend using a crust shield to prevent over-browning.) Makes 1 9-inch pie. Some of these recipes call for 2 tablespoons cream or butter but the recipe is rich enough without the extra fat.

Have yourselves a Merry Christmas and don’t forget those clamoring outside our gates, including recent immigrants. Thanks for the birth of a baby who still longs to bring us all together some day in a peaceable kingdom.

***

Do you have a cookbook that looks like either of the above? Did your church women compile cookbooks and do they still?

What’s your favorite must-have Christmas dessert?

***

The Mennonite Community Cookbook 2015 edition can be purchased here, and has a history section that I wrote, giving the history of the cookbook. Loved doing that, I was happy to have had the opportunity.

As a gift, I’d love to send you the bookmark I created “Top 35 Books for Children” compiled by friends and readers, to save for ideas for birthdays and more. Or send your comments or pie stories to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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4 Comments
  1. Yes, to you first two questions.

    Who knew there was an American Pie Council or history of pie website. But, of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. Grandma Longenecker made once-a-year mince pies, usually at Christmas. Mother was more the cake lady.

    Merry Christmas, Melodie!

    • Mom was so good at making pies—- now she rarely attempts it but treasures a piece of pie if it is given to her. I think I sampled the mince pie once or twice but I never got it’s attraction and now that weight is always a concern, I think, why learn to like something I’ll just have to limit, right? Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and yours as well, Marian.

  2. Alice Risser permalink

    I have the Fellowship Cooking cookbook too and there are still some recipes I refer to in it . One being Fresh Strawberry Pie by Nellie Hershberger. I recognized all the name from the North Goshen cookbook as my Mother’s friends.

    • Oh Alice I use the fresh strawberry pie recipe in that book. And I THINK I can remember Nellie Hershberger and almost picture her. Glad to hear from you here, Alice–as one who uses that good old North Goshen cookbook too. Just finished making my party mix for this season–and yep, the recipe is in there! I hope you have a good Christmas! I think you lost your brother this year and I’m sure you’ll be missing him especially at this time.

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