VINTAGE RECIPES: The Perfect Pumpkin 10/27/19

“Farm produce with small image of horse in the upper left corner”; chromolithograph. Library of Congress. 1893.

Picking the perfect pumpkin is a family tradition. Whether a miniature or the largest pumpkin in the field is chosen to adorn the front step, much discussion and deliberation ensues. Each year, the trip to the pumpkin field ignites memories beginning with “Remember when…”. The excitement and resulting anticipation heightens while bumping through the field on a wagon ride.

Children spring from the wagon and scatter through the field. Some will choose the first one spotted; others will wander for a while with much consideration; one great thinker seemingly arrives on each wagon ride. The most patient driver becomes restless. The other children begin to call. A set of parents begins to apologize as their child carries several pumpkins to a central location and checks for imperfections. Those that do not make the final cut may have a speck of dirt, a rough patch, or perhaps a slightly irregular shape, but the child knows that there is only one “Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”!

The Pumpkin

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Whittier, John Greenleaf. The Pumpkin.

Harvest time on all parts of the farm was busy yet rewarding. In the kitchen, Auntie’s passion for cooking brought joy to family and friends. Each Autumn, I recall the aroma of Auntie’s pumpkin pie.

Auntie’s Recipe for Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 cups of stewed pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 scant pint of milk
  • Bake 45 minutes.
Lee, Russell, photographer. Pumpkins and turnips near Berlin, Connecticut. Library of Congress. October 1939.
Lee, Russell, photographer. Cutting up Pumpkin for Pie. Bakery San Angelo, Texas Library of Congress. November 1939.
Delano, Jack. At the Crouch family Thanksgiving Day dinner. Pumpkin pies. Ledyard, Connecticut. Library of Congress. November 1940

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