I found this recipe eons ago in the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. This vintage collection is fun to read simply for the colorful descriptions of rural life, back in the day, and the quaint illustrations. It’s also a treasure of old-fashioned recipes and useful ‘how tos.’ The by gone age this book hearkens back to is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder, though some Old Order Mennonites and Amish still live that way. Maybe back-to-earth homesteaders do as well, although I suspect many of them have computers. As for the rest of us, the Mennonite Community Cookbook is entertaining and has many excellent recipes. However, they weren’t created for the modern time conscious cook. This is the ‘make it from scratch’ book.
Regarding pumpkins, my youngest daughter Elise is an avid fan so every May/June we set out our cherished seedlings and every July/August we fight a mostly losing battle to keep them alive. But there was a time when every insect in the world didn’t attack our vines and we had enough pumpkins to make our own pie filling. Wow, what a feeling. Maybe someday. Next summer we shall triumph in the garden! We say that every year. And we actually believe it. Hope truly does spring eternal for gardeners. Either that or we’re incredibly gullible. I think the wonders of spring lure us to giddy heights.
Onto the recipe. It assumes you, of course, grew your own pumpkins, but you can substitute canned. If you do want to grow your own, seed catalogues specify which varieties are best. These are the medium/small kinds with names like ‘Small sugar,’ not the ones grown for size. The larger pumpkins produce a watery filling and are grown only for show. Elise and I are ever in search of good organic methods to thwart vine borers and other pumpkin pests so if you have any tried and true suggestions, please share them. We found planting radishes in the pumpkin hills and letting these go to seed seemed to help deter insects, as did planting pumpkins in random places where we’ve never grown them before, such as in with the native clematis vine taking over the backyard that we call ‘the beast.’ ‘The Beast cradled our last surviving pumpkin and hid the orange globe from evil doers.
1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tab. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp cloves
Pastry for one 9 inch pie crust.
Cook pumpkin and rub through a sieve.
Add beaten egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and mix well.
Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour mixture into unbaked crust.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for 30 minutes.
*I reduced the milk by 1/2 cup.
*I use good sized eggs
*Elise and her prize pumpkin saved by The Beast.
*Three of the best pumpkins for pie making are heirloom varieties: Small Sugar, Connecticut Field and the Cinderella Pumpkin (Rouge Vif D`etampes). This last one is the most beautiful deep orange ribbed pumpkin pictured above. The smaller ones in the pic are small sugar.