My mother, pictured above. The final link in the maternal line.
I have a bit of a different story for you all today. You see, I stand in awe of the knowledge that is transmitted through families, if only we keep an open ear.
Today I’ll tell you of my quest to chase down an ancient family recipe, and the odd chances and turns it took to be preserved.
I’ll cut to the chase. The recipe was transmitted by the woman pictured below, Imo. But it was her great-grandmother’s, name unknown.
She gave it to her daughter, Alice.
Alice is who I turned to for help in 1999, when my mother-in-law needed a recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch. I remember calling her. I said, “Grandma, how do you make a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkins?”
She said “I don’t know. I always used canned pumpkin.” A pause. Then she said “I think I have a recipe from my mother, who got it from her grandmother.”
My Great-Great-Great Grandmother! Civil War era, at least. She read it to either me or my wife, not sure who. My wife translated the recipe into Dutch, then she gave it to my mother-in-law. It looked like this:
My mother-in-law baked the pies, we ate them. They were good, but they were really unlike any other pumpkin pie I have had before or since. Something about the proportions, maybe? But they were not as sweet as the modern pumpkin pies by far.
The years went by, I forgot about this incident, although I never quite forgot those lovely pies. Alice, my Grandma, died in 2016 after a full and very long life.
Fast forward to this, the year of the plague. I put in a big garden, and I ended up with ten pumpkins.
What, what to do with fresh pumpkins?
And then I remembered. My maternal line’s pumpkin pie recipe. I asked my parents if they could find it. Well, they found a recipe in my Grandma’s handwriting, but I didn’t think it was “it.”
In my Grandma’s careful hand, and undoubtedly old, but not the very old recipe she read over the phone to my wife.
Was it lost?
Then I thought to call my mother-in-law. Did she still have the recipe?
It didn’t take long for her to find it; she sent me an image of the recipe in Dutch. Fortunately my wife had transcribed the proportions in the old English measurements back then. All I had to do was convert the recipe back to the original language.
Via a very irregular method, it was saved. This one tiny chunk of knowledge from deep time, back a long way on the maternal line.
Today, readers, I am very glad to be able to share this recipe with you!
It makes a pumpkin pie that is different from the modern, store bought ones.
Here goes, from my family to yours!
What else has been lost? So much. But this little jewel was saved.