18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, November 19, 1913: Ditto
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
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.