Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

A Thanksgiving Pie

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

I have never been a great fan of pie. I know it is probably heresy to write this in New England, where pie was king in the 19th century and still holds quite a bit of sway. I love fruit, but I don’t see the point in overwhelming it with pastry by putting a crust beneath it—and usually a crust above it as well.

I do embrace pie at Thanksgiving, however. Thanksgiving is about tradition. In my family, as in most, pie is part of that tradition.

So at this time of year I haul out my rolling pin and my family recipe book. I often make apple pie, which my relatives love, or pecan pie, which pleases my Southern sister-in-law. Pumpkin pie is a family favorite, and no one has ever turned down my world-class key-lime pie, with its pleasing combination of sweet and tart.

I’m sure readers have their own special family pies, desserts without which the fourth Thursday in November just wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Leave a comment to let me know what yours is!

This year I’m doubly embracing tradition by preparing my grandmother’s Mock Cherry Pie.

At the turn of the last century, this pie was extremely popular in the United States. Librarians at the University of Michigan wrote in 2014 that they had recipes for Mock Cherry Pie in a number of vintage cookbooks, including the Woman’s Home Receipt Book from 1902 and a 1920 Boston Cooking School Cookbook.

My grandmother may indeed have learned to make this pie at the Boston Cooking School, where she studied with founder Fannie Farmer the summer before her (my grandmother’s, not Fannie Farmer’s) wedding in 1912.

Unlike Mock Apple Pie, which traditionally uses crackers or bread crumbs as a substitute for the apples and thereby removes the last vestige of nutrition from a pie’s combination of sugar and carbohydrates, Mock Cherry Pie substitutes fruit for fruit.

Our cherry season here in New England is brief, maybe a couple of weeks at most. Unless they had enough cherries in their orchard to can them, New Englanders traditionally had no way to find these fruits out of season.

Mock Cherry Pie uses fruits that would have been available at this time of year to cooks in these parts: cranberries and raisins.

I adore cranberries so I would probably call this Cranberry and Raisin Pie. In deference to my grandmother and to Fannie Farmer, however, I am using the original name.

Both my grandmother and Miss Farmer (as she is always called in our home) helped shape the way I cook. They emphasized balanced meals, yet each had a sweet tooth. To my grandmother, Clara, no dinner was complete without a salad and a dessert.

They both enjoyed New England’s bounty but adapted their cooking as the seasons flew by.

I never met Fannie Farmer, and I learned that my grandmother had studied with her only when my grandmother’s dementia had clouded her memory. Unfortunately, then, I couldn’t elicit any stories about the cooking school from her. Nevertheless, Miss Farmer was important in my household as I was growing up.

We had numerous editions of the The Fannie Farmer Cookbook on our cookbook shelf. It is still the cookbook I consult more than any other work. Some cooks grew up with The Joy of Cooking. We owned a copy of that work and did look at it from time to time. Fannie Farmer was our cooking bible, however.

At this time of year when gratitude is emphasized, I am thankful for both of these practical, generous New England cooks, who influenced my approach to food. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

By the way, I’ll be serving gingerbread, reading from my new book, and signing cookbooks this Saturday, November 26, at 12:30 p.m. at the Buckland (MA) Public Library. Please join us if you’re around! And of course if you would like to buy a copy of my book and can’t come, you may do so at my website. I’ll be happy to inscribe it to you or as a gift for someone.

Clara Engel Hallett’s Mock Cherry Pie

 Ingredients:

2 cups cranberries, cut in half
1 cup raisins
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon flour
1 pinch salt
1 double 8-inch pie crust

 Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the filling ingredients and allow them to sit for a few minutes in a bowl. (My grandmother never told me why she did this; my guess is that it was to let the raisins absorb some of the water and plump up.)

Place the mixture in the bottom crust, and cover it with another crust or a lattice top. Prick holes or cut slits in the top crust to let steam escape.

Place the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet; it has a tendency to leak while baking. Bake it for 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

Watch me make this pie here.

 

A Thanksgiving Wish

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

“Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.”

Or maybe not this year.

Thanksgiving will feel a little different for many of us in 2020. I apologize if I seem like a Pollyanna, but I’m going to do my darndest to be thankful anyway.

Abraham Lincoln mandated the first official national Thanksgiving in 1863, during the Civil War. His official proclamation setting aside the fourth Thursday in November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise” was written by Secretary of State William Seward.

It urged Americans not just to give thanks but also to use the day to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”

If Americans could find time to spread thanks in the middle of our nation’s bloodiest and most divisive war, we can do it now.

It may not be easy. We have just come off an election that highlighted rifts in our society. We are beset by a disease that has sickened and killed thousands and that will keep many of us from celebrating Thanksgiving together in person this year.

Since March many of us have become accustomed to physical isolation. Nevertheless, solitude may be a bit harder to bear over this holiday. After all, the most familiar Thanksgiving hymn is “We Gather Together.”

In contrast, others long for a little isolation after spending months stuck in the house and sharing work and living space with partners, children, dogs, and cats.

Many of us are beset by worries about health and finances.

In short, we may have a little trouble feeling thankful this Thanksgiving.

Even so, we need to try to give thanks more than ever. Here’s my advice for the big day.

If you are used to preparing a large Thanksgiving meal, cut down your recipes … and give whatever additional funds you would have spent on the meal to a food pantry or to another group working to nourish our community, literally and figuratively.

Keep your eyes open for neighbors who are feeling overset by the current times. We can’t invite them to share our tables. We can reach out by telephone to share our lives and our thanks.

Despite COVID, despite political divisions, we have much to be thankful for: the love of our friends and relatives; the bounty of the harvest; the beauties of the area in which we live; and the stories we tell to inspire ourselves and each other to be just, thankful, and kind.

Recently, I saw a late-night interview with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. I have adored Booker since he was the mayor of Newark; I still stand ready to marry him as soon as he sees the light and dumps his movie-star girlfriend.

My future fiancé told host James Corden, “I’m always going to be a prisoner of hope.”

My Thanksgiving wish is that we can all find ourselves in that prison.

Below I share a simple recipe that doesn’t feed a crowd but will make you feel well nourished on Thursday. If you have leftovers, share them with anyone you know who is feeling isolated this week! Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours.

Corn Casserole

This simple, nourishing pudding-like dish is in my “Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and came originally from my college roommate Kelly Boyd. It may be as hot or as mild as you like, depending on the number of hot peppers you add. Feel free to double the recipe if you’re serving more people.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste OR (for more spice) 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 green, yellow, or red bell pepper, diced
fresh or pickled peppers to taste
1/2 of a 4-ounce jar of pimientos, drained and diced
1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 11-to-15-ounce can whole kernel corn, undrained

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs together. Stir in the flour, the salt and pepper, the pepper pieces, the pimientos, the cheese, and the butter. Add the corn, along with its liquid.

Bake in a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish for 45 minutes. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Here is my corn-casserole video from Mass Appeal. I also reached into the archives of this blog and made my beloved cranberry upside-down cake.

The Feast of Love and Hope and Gratitude

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

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This month Americans are observing many anniversaries. Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I long for its eloquence and brevity every time I write—and every time I listen to a political speech.

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in a few days is dominating our television screens now almost as much as it did at the time of that president’s death.

Mulling over it repeatedly, we explore our history, our feelings about our leaders, and the difficulty of ever knowing precisely what happened in the past. (The assassination is an event that has been seen by millions of people and studied by thousands—and yet no one can be 100-percent sure exactly what happened on that day in Dallas.)

The anniversary that interests me most, however, is another Lincoln-related one. In November 1863, a week after writing and reciting the Gettysburg Address, our 16th president led Americans in celebrating our first national day of Thanksgiving.

States and communities had celebrated their own days of Thanksgiving for a couple of centuries by then. It was Lincoln who nationalized the holiday and identified it as the last Thursday in November. (It eventually became the fourth Thursday rather than the last.)

Sarah Josepha Hale

Sarah Josepha Hale

Writer/editor Sarah Josepha Hale had campaigned unsuccessfully by letter for such a day with previous presidents beginning with Zachary Taylor. It took Lincoln’s genius to identify Thanksgiving as a quintessentially American holiday—one that was particularly appropriate to a nation at war.

It is when we are feeling the most stress that we have the greatest need to be grateful. Lincoln realized that a nation at war needed to stop, take stock of its blessings, and express gratitude—perhaps even more than a nation at peace. Indeed, his original proclamation reminded Americans to be particularly mindful of those whose families had been disrupted and/or destroyed by the war.

This spirit lives on in the efforts of a variety of organizations to serve Thanksgiving meals (and bring Thanksgiving cheer) to veterans and their families. It also continues whenever those of us hosting Thanksgiving dinner invite friends, relatives, or strangers to join us for this annual feast of love and hope and gratitude.

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You may see Lincoln’s original Thanksgiving proclamation at the National Archives website. And the White House website offers what it calls the “definitive” history of the practice of pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving. I love the weird American-ness of this tradition; we pardon one turkey a year so that we can feel less guilty about eating millions of its cousins!

I’m not actually posting a Thanksgiving recipe this year—although I refer you to several of them I have posted over the years. Try the hush-puppy pudding … or cranberry upside-down cake … or even simple roasted Brussels sprouts.

Instead I offer this simple seasonal quiche. It uses a vegetable I always overbuy at this time of year, the sweet potato. (I received several with my farm share last week so I was forced to get creative.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all … and to your families. Don’t forget to open your homes and your hearts to strangers at this time of year.

SP Tartweb

Sweet Potato Tart

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, cut into small pieces and peeled if you want to peel it
extra-virgin olive oil as needed
salt to taste
3 large or 4 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
fresh, chopped parsley to taste
four eggs
1/2 cup cream
a dash of Creole seasoning
ounces (more or less) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 8-inch pie shell

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a bowl. Stir in salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon). Toss in the pieces of sweet potato.

Place the sweet-potato pieces on a cookie sheet or baking pan, and roast until they are lightly brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. This took me about 1-1/4 hours, but my oven runs cool so it may take you less time.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, splash oil onto a non-stick frying pan. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Toss in the onion slices.

Cook them slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until they are reduced and softly caramelized. This may take an hour or more. Add a pinch of salt after the first 1/2 hour—and add a little more oil if you need it as you cook. When the onions are finished, stir in the parsley.

Both the onions and the sweet potatoes may be cooked the day before you want to serve your quiche; refrigerate the cooked vegetables until they are needed.

When you are ready to assemble your quiche whisk together the eggs, cream, and Creole seasoning in a bowl.

Place the pie shell in a pie pan. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the pie crust. Top the cheese with the onions and then the sweet potatoes; then pour on the cream/egg custard, and finish with the remaining cheese.

Place the tart (or quiche or whatever you want to call it!) on a rimmed cookie sheet to prevent spillage, and bake it for about 40 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is golden—but the sweet potatoes peeking out are not burning!

Serves 6.

assembling tartweb

The tart halfway through assembly

Simple Gifts

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

tinky-hat-web1

 

          Thursday is Thanksgiving—and one of the simple gifts for which I’m grateful is my new audio recorder. It isn’t very big or very good (and it wasn’t very expensive!), but I hope that it will be useful in documenting some of my culinary adventures for this blog. Just now I’m using it to sing “Simple Gifts.”

I haven’t quite figured out how to adjust the audio settings; I know the sound quality or lack thereof will appall my audiophile brother. But days like Thanksgiving make me want to sing. Listen by all means (just click on the link below), and please don’t be too critical. I promise I haven’t yet given up my day job!

Sing along if you like—the louder, the better. As my neighbor Alice Parker says, music should be something we make, not just something we consume. And that’s a simple gift for which we can all be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving……….

Simple Gifts

cutecardweb

Giving Thanks (Part II)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

hats-web          The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit — a sense of something accomplished.

                                                 — Harriet Beecher Stowe

turkey-card-web          Here are two additional dishes for Thanksgiving (I’m leaving the turkey to you). The pie may look a little complicated because of its multiple layers. It’s quite simple, however, and can be made the day before. The second layer comes out a lovely pink. Enjoy…….

hushpuppywebHush Puppy Pudding

          In an earlier post I said that I would come up with a non-box-mix-dependent version of Marilyn Pryor’s corn pudding. Here it is. Marilyn originally used 1 cup of cornbread mix instead of half of the flour, the cornmeal, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the baking powder. You’re certainly welcome to do that if you have cornbread or corn-muffin mix in the house.

          One note: although the pudding looks gorgeous in the flat dish that appears in the photo here, it’s even better in a deeper pan, which keeps the pudding moister.

Ingredients:

3/8 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup flour

3/4 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sliced green onions (I used 1 bunch; it didn’t quite make a cup, but it worked)

2 cups plain yogurt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

3/8 cup (3/4 stick) sweet butter, melted

2 10- or 11-ounce cans vacuum-packed corn

Instructions:

          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the onions, yogurt, eggs, and butter. Stir in the corn, and add this mixture to the cornbread combination, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon the resulting batter into the prepared pan, and bake until golden brown and set in the center (about 45 minutes). Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

pie-webCranberry Chiffon Pie

          I’m a sucker for cranberries at this time of year when we crave color and flavor. This pie is a little messy when you slice it, but I hate to add gelatin and make it stiff. If you want to make sure it will slice beautifully, use a graham-cracker crust; that way you can freeze the pie until half an hour before you serve it and keep it solid. My family likes goopy delicious things so we use a standard pastry crust.

Ingredients:

For the first layer:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 cups (1 12-ounce bag) cranberries

1 pinch salt

1 prebaked 9-inch pie shell

For the second layer:

3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup of the mixture from the first layer

1 cup COLD heavy cream

For the third layer:

sweetened whipped cream to taste

Instructions:

          In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add the cranberries and salt, and simmer until the cranberries pop (about 10 to 15 minutes). Basically, you’re making cranberry sauce so if you have a recipe you prefer feel free to substitute it here. Let the sauce cool to room temperature; then set aside 1/2 cup for the second layer and pour the rest into the pie shell. 

          Next, create the second layer. With an electric beater, whip together the cream cheese, sugar, and reserved cranberry sauce until they are smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, and beat the mixture at low speed until it is blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixture to high, and beat it until the cream forms pink peaks (1 to 2 minutes). Spread this layer into the pie shell as well.

          At this point, you must refrigerate the pie, gently covered, for at least 3 hours. You may leave it for up to a day, however, if you want to make it in advance. Just before serving, decorate the pie with whipped cream (or serve the whipped cream on the side.) Serves 6 to 8.

I love to whip cream!

I love to whip cream!