Old-Fashioned Raisin Meringue Pie Recipe (Funeral Pie Recipe))

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, November 19, 1913:  Ditto

raisin meringue pie (funeral pie)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Huh???? The previous day Grandma wrote “nothing much,” so I guess that it was another slow day from Grandma’s perspective; but two days prior to this entry Grandma’s maternal grandfather, John Derr, died in the nearby town of Turbotville.

I hope no one’s upset, but  I broke a rule I have and peaked ahead in the diary–Rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?—so I know that Grandma will attend his funeral on November 21.

Perhaps Grandma wasn’t doing much, but I bet that friends and neighbors were preparing food to serve for the traditional family gathering after the funeral.

Were they making funeral pies? In the old days in Pennsylvania, raisin pies were often served at funerals and they were called funeral pie.

I’ve seen other blogs that give recipes for a funeral pie that is basically just a two-crust raisin pie.  But my memory is that old-fashioned raisin pies in central Pennsylvania generally were raisin custard pies with a meringue topping, so I’ll give you that recipe.

Old Raisin Meringue Pie (Funeral Pie) Recipe

1 cup raisins

water

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 egg whites

1 9-inch pie shell, baked

Put raisins in small sauce pan, and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cool. Drain the cooled raisins. Stir the flour, corn starch, and sugar into the raisins; then add the milk and egg yolks. Stir and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens (comes to a boil). Pour into a pie shell which was previously baked.

In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then spoon on top of the pie. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

This pie is different from the typical modern pie, but I really like it. I want to say that this pie will appeal to sophisticated palates—but somehow that doesn’t quite seem right when I’m talking about an old-fashioned food from rural Pennsylvania.

The delicate custard filling has a subtle and nuanced raisin flavor. And, the juicy plumped raisins provide a nice texture contrast to the smooth custard and the airy meringue.

I’m definitely going to make this pie again—and I don’t plan to wait until a funeral to serve it.

Ice Cream Served in Orange Jack-o’-Lantern Shells

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 29, 1913: Ditto

DSC08341

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma and her sister Ruth were getting ready for a Halloween party they are going to host.

What foods were they planning to serve their guests?

The October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal had the following suggestion:

Serve ice cream in orange  Jack-o’-lantern shells.

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Fried Pears Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, October 10, 1913: About the same as other days.

Fried Pears

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a recipe for Fried Pears that I found in the August, 1913 issue of Farm Journal.

Fried pears—Fried pears are delicious. Prepare in the following manner: Remove peel, seeds and core. Slice and fry to a delicate brown in drippings or melted butter. Arrange upon a dish and sprinkle powdered sugar on each piece.

I fried the pears in melted butter. At first I used a medium temperature,  but then turned it up to medium high to brown the pears. This was hotter than what I normally use when frying with butter—but the pears won’t brown until I turned the heat up.

I used a spatula to turn the pears—and probably cooked them for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Since I used such a high temperature, I watched the pears like a hawk—because I wanted them to brown but not burn.

The powdered (confectioner’s) sugar sweetened the Fried Pears slightly—but did not garnish them for very long. The sugar dissolved in less than a minute.

The Fried Pears were yummy—though very similar to what I think hot canned pears would taste like. If I made this recipe again I would skip the sugar.

Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 24, 1913:  Nothing much continues.

DSC08305

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma, I know that you were writing the diary for yourself . . .and that nothing much happened, AGAIN.

But for those of us glancing over your shoulder a hundred years later we care about even the little things like, what did you eat for dinner?

It’s getting to be Fall, maybe you ate winter squash from the garden.  . . . and if it was a small squash perhaps it was stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Here’s a recipe I often use to stuff acorn squash. It’s not an authentic hundred-year-old recipe—they definitely wouldn’t have had sliced American cheese back then—but I like it and it gives a sense of how people used miscellaneous fall vegetables and other common ingredients to stuff squash.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Delicata or other small winter squash can be substituted for the acorn squash.

1 acorn squash

1/4 pound ground beef

1/2 cup celery

1/4 cup onion

3 slices American cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

butter

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Halve and seed squash. Place cut side down in shallow baking pan; pour approximately 1/2 inch very warm water in pan around squash. Bake until tender—about 1 1/4 hours.*

About 10-15 minutes before the squash has completed cooking, brown ground beef in skillet. Add celery and onion; cook until tender. Add cheeses and stir constantly just until cheese melts.  Turn squash up on serving dish; dot with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then fill cavity with meat mixture.

*Or squash can be microwaved until tender—about 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

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Old-fashioned Crab Apple Jelly Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, September 11, 1913:  Nothing much.

Crab Apple Jelly

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma, you must have done something. Were you too tired to write much because you spent the day in the kitchen helping your mother with the canning?

I made Crab Apple Jelly last week-end. It’s the season for crab apples—maybe you also made some a hundred years ago.

Crab Apple Jelly

5 pounds (approximately 10 cups) crab apples

8 cups water

Sugar

Remove stem and blossom ends from washed crab apples, cut in halves and place in large pan. Add water and cook until fruit is very soft, about 10 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a jelly bag. Do not squeeze or force just through bag.

Measure juice. There should be approximately 7 cups. Pour into a large pan. Stir in 3/4 cups of sugar for each cup of juice. Bring to a boil quickly and cook rapidly until the jellying point* is reached.

Skim off foam and pour into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Makes about 5 – 6 half pints.

*The Portland Preserve website has a nice description of how to tell when the jellying point has been reached.

Old-Fashioned Apple Cookie Recipe

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 6, 1913: I made some cookies this morning—and fortunately we all have pretty good teeth.

DSC08295

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm—I wonder what kind of cookies Grandma made, and what went wrong.

Maybe Grandma made Apple Cookies. They’re wonderfully moist—and a little chewy (but I don’t think that they’d require good teeth to eat.)  :)

Old-fashioned Apple Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup milk

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup unpared apples, chopped

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream sugar and butter, then add egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and fruit. Add walnuts, apples, and raisins. Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: approximately 48 cookies

Hundred-Year-Old Directions for Boiled Ham

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, September 4, 1913:  I guess most any one could guess what followed for today.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

ham1This modern ham is NOTHING like hams a hundred years ago. Old-time hams were smoked in smoke houses,  salty, and very flavorful (and probably had lots of nitrates that weren’t good for us).   (Picture Source: Real Simple)

The threshers were at the Muffly farm. The previous day Grandma wrote that the threshing machine had arrived.

Neighbors and the threshing machine operators would all be helping with the threshing. And, the men who came to help expected a big meal. Grandma, her sister Ruth, their mother, and perhaps some neighbor women would have spent the day cooking and serving a huge meal—and then they would have washed mountains of dishes.

What did foods did they serve?  . . . desserts .  .  . potatoes . . .meat. . . .

Ham was popular back then.  I bet they served incredible ham that had been cured and smoked on the farm the previous winter.

Here are the directions for cooking a ham in a hundred-year-old cookbook:

Boiled Ham

Select a medium-sized ham; soak overnight in cold water. Clean and wipe; cover with cold water; bring to the boiling point, and then simmer until tender, allowing thirty minutes to the pound. Cool in water in which it was cooked. Take off the skin, sprinkle with sugar, and cover with seasoned cracker crumbs. Bake twenty to thirty minutes. Decorate with cloves, garnish with parsley and lemon, and serve hot or cold.

A more aromatic flavor is given to the ham if a bouquet of sweet herbs and one half cup each of onions, carrots, and turnips are boiled with it. Many baste the ham, when baking with cider.

Lowney’s Cook Book – Revised Edition (1912)

Here’s a few previous posts with recipes for seasonal foods that may have been served to the threshers:

Open-faced Apple Pie

Pickled Cabbage (Pepper Hash)

Pickled Beets and Eggs

Spiced (Pickled) Crab Apples

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