#52Ancestors: Mom, Keeper of Grandma’s Awesome Pumpkin Pie & Pie Crust Recipes

My 22nd entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks family history blogging challenge.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I’m closing the gap at just 1 week behind in this series (the challenge is on week 23)!

Colleen's Mom as a baby
Mom as a baby.

My 22nd ancestor is my Mom, whom I will not identify by name, for privacy reasons, because she is still living. In particular, I am profiling Mom’s awesome pies.

Let me proclaim here and now that my Mom makes THE BEST pumpkin pie and THE BEST pie crust in the world. Hands down. Even people who don’t like pumpkin pie like hers. It is light, airy, and creamy like a custard. Not at all heavy. Mom doesn’t just make a few pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, she makes about a dozen. Because our family slices her pies into quarters, not the normal six or eight slices to a pie. We like to eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. For several days. And she makes some to send home with each of us kids, and sometimes for her siblings.

But, the best thing about her pumpkin pie — all of her pies — is the crust. The crust is perfectly flaky, very thin, and just melts in your mouth. Sometimes, as much as I love her pumpkin filling, I scrape all of the pumpkin filling off (still eating it, of course!) just to take my sweet time enjoying the crust alone.

Mom's Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s pumpkin pie and mouth-watering crust. This photo doesn’t do her pie or crust justice. This is one she made in a disposable pie plate for me to bring home last Thanksgiving. It’s a big banged up from the long commute home in traffic. But it still tasted perfect! Didn’t last long! Only yielded 4 servings 🙂

Mom learned how to make her perfect pumpkin pie and perfect pie crust from her mother, my grandmother Elsie Charlotte HAYES (1926-1992). Grandma was a terrible cook (terrible is an understatement)! But, the lady could bake…especially pie!

And Mom is the keeper of Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe (which I still need to learn) and Grandma’s pie crust recipe (I still need to learn this too), which I was shocked to discover a little while back, comes from…<gasp!> a cookbook!

Grandma taught Mom both recipes when Mom was young, and when Mom got married, my grandfather’s foster brother gave Mom this same cookbook as a wedding gift. A Better Homes and Gardens cookbook! I must confess, I was a little disappointed to learn that BH&G is the source of Grandma’s family recipes. I’d hoped these were passed down from her own mother and grandmother. But, these recipes ARE still part of my family tradition anyways.

Mom's cookbook
Cookbook given to Mom at her wedding. The 1966 edition. Inscribed by my grandfather’s foster brother Norm (or Norm’s wife). I bet Grandma told Norm what specific cookbook to buy for Mom, since Mom learned how to bake pies from Grandma, and Grandma used the same cookbook. I blacked out Mom’s name for privacy reasons.

The cookbook is falling apart. The spine is completely broken from decades of being propped open on a kitchen counter while Mom made her perfect pies for the family. I work in a library, and we do book repairs, so I am taking it in to get Mom’s wedding cookbook fixed. Hopefully, I’ll inherit this cookbook. I have her favorite recipes scanned, but I want the tangible book that is stained from decades of use by Mom.

Mom's cookbook
The well-stained page for Mom’s pie crust recipe. Single crust Plain Pastry.
Mom's cookbook
A post-it from Mom marks her custard filling recipe, with modifications.

I really do need to take a weekend day to go to Mom’s and learn how to make her crust and her pumpkin pie filling, audio or video recording her talking me through each step while she recounts memories of baking with Grandma. These traditions and memories are so important to preserve!

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