Bread and Butter Days
by Trisha Faye
THE MONTH OF THE PUMPKIN
No, not that season, although Christmas is approaching faster than a speeding freight train.
It’s Pumpkin Season – the time of year when everything pumpkin flavored hits the markets.
Remember when there used to be pumpkin pie? And maybe a neighbor would bake some of their signature pumpkin bread. And … well, that was about it.
Then a few products started coming out; pumpkin spice hot tea and coffee, and maybe a cake or an ice cream. And then, the deluge began. It seems every year has more and more pumpkin flavored products. Now, besides the earliest items, there are: bagels, muffins, cookies of all kinds, Frappuccinos and smoothies, fudge, Pringles chips, pancake mix, Jif Whips, coffee syrups and creamers, beer, Hershey’s kisses, Oreos, eggnog, cheesecake, M & M’s, cream cheese, Pop Tarts … the list seems endless.
I picked up a small cookbook for my sister. It was pumpkin recipes, and only pumpkin based goodies. Of course, I had to copy a few recipes before I sent it her way. Out of curiosity I pulled out a few old cookbooks to see what pumpkin recipes they included.
A 1937 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, had Pumpkin Pie and Rich Pumpkin Pie. That’s it. Two recipes. There were 772 pages of recipes and only two recipes were for pumpkin. There were more recipes for the pie crust pastry than that. (Remember – back in the good ‘ole days of when you needed a pie crust you had to make it yourself? No premade refrigerated or frozen versions to cheat with?)
Rich Pumpkin Pie
1 ½ cups steamed and strained pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup cream
Mix ingredients in order given and bake in one crust.
For baking directions, you had to turn to page 625 where it then told you:
To Bake Pies. Set pie in bottom of hot oven (450º F.) for 10 minutes. Then move to middle shelf, reduce heat to moderate (350ºF.) and bake 40 to 60 minutes. If upper crust browns too quickly, cover with paper.
For directions on cooking pumpkin, I turned to a 1910 version of Caloric Book of Recipes. This nice little hardcover book sold for 50 cents. It states it was ‘Especially adapted to the improved Caloric cookstove’, or as the preface references, “… prepared primarily for the benefit of the users of the Caloric Fireless Cook Stove.”
Pumpkin – The hardest part of preparing a pumpkin for stewing is the taking off the rind and in the case of new pumpkins when the rind is free from decay it is worse than wasted labor, for the nearer the rind the sweeter the meat. Cut the pumpkin into strips and then into pieces as usual and stew rind and all. Of course, you have thoroughly washed your pumpkin before cutting; when stewed and cool, rub through a colander, which takes out all the bits of rind, leaving a rich, sweet residue.
Next week we’ll follow with a few more time tested pumpkin recipes and cooking advice. Until then, I’m headed to the kitchen. A bag of freshly purchased (no not homemade) pumpkin cheesecake cookies is sitting on the counter, waiting for me to come sample them.
Happy Pumpkin Days!
Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at firstname.lastname@example.org