Saturday, July 26, 2008

Memory Keeping: Recipes

This is the Rockwell Methodist Church as it looked in the early 1950s. This is also the cover of their "Woman's (sic?) Society of Christian Service" cookbook. I came across it at my mother's house recently and seeing the familiar names of the women I knew as a little girl was quite a trip down memory lane.

The cookbook is dedicated " the Modern Home. In our Home today, as always, life is centered around our Kitchens. It is with this thought in mind that we, The Sponsors, have compiled these recipes. Some of them are treasured old family recipes. Some are brand new, but every single one reflects the love of good cooking that is so very strong in this country of ours..."

That being said, I thought I'd share a few of the recipes you're not likely to run across on a daily basis, if ever. Like "Persimmon Pie." The World Book Dictionary says that a persimmon is "the fruit of the North American tree, very bitter when green, but sweet and good to eat when very ripe."

The key word here is "very," especially where it modifies the word "ripe." I grew up with a persimmon tree in the yard, and trust me, you did not want to approach a persimmon for eating purposes until it was so ripe the skin was falling off and you had to fight the yellow jackets to get it.

I'm sure I never, ever ate any persimmon pie. I did try some persimmon pudding once -- which is why I think I would never have eaten the pie -- except to save the family reputation by demonstrating that I knew how to behave in polite society and eating it if my hostess wanted me to.

Keep in mind that most of these old cookbooks work on the assumption that you already know how to cook -- or that you've got the sense God gave a turnip to figure it out if you don't. They don't coddle you with details -- like getting the seeds out and the skins off, or what to do with all of the ingredients listed, or the fact that you're going to need a pie crust at some point.

But here is the word-for-word recipe anyway:

Persimmon Pie

1 c. persimmons (before mashed)
1/2 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. flour
butter, size of an egg

Combine the persimmons with the water, mash and strain off water. Sift flour and make a paste milk. Add the rest of the milk to the milk paste. Bake in oven at 400 degrees and brown crust slightly, then lower heat to 300 degrees and bake 1 hour.

I would say "Enjoy," but based on my own experience, I'm not sure that's possible. Anyway, I'm still wondering what to do with the sugar, the cream, and the butter...

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