Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pies and Poetry March 1924

The kitchen at Rocky Ridge Farm
Mansfield, Missouri

"I would rather have made the pie than to have written a poem,"
said Rose Wilder Lane, pausing midway through the
triangular piece on her plate.

It was just a plain, farm apple pie, the kind we all 
make in Missouri.  But listen!

"Oh, these Missouri pies!" 
exclaimed the other New York writer.*
"Never before have I seen such wonderful pies."

Writer Rose Wilder Lane
Daughter of Almanzo and Laura Wilder

"I'll tell you the tale as 'twas told to me,
and you shall decide."

   So it seems that the center of pie fame
 as well as the center of population has traveled 
westward, for pie, you know, was a New England dish
 not known anywhere else in the world.
To this day it is made only in America.
  And speaking of pies and poems,
 the first pie as we know pie,
invented by a New England woman,
 was a poem of love and service,
 full of imagination,
 spicy with invention.
    Oh, of course what it was 
really filled with was something
 very common and homely;
 but I'll tell you
 the tale as 'twas told to me',
 and you shall decide 
if my description of that first pie
 as a poem does not hold good.
    In one of the New England states
 away back in Colonial times, 
a pioneer woman one Saturday
was cooking the Sunday dinner.
  She wanted a sweet meat for the ending
 but had nothing of which
 to make anything of the kind 
she ever had seen.
 But she did want to please and satisfy
 the good man and the children,
 so using her imagination and Yankee invention, 
she made a dough with bear's grease
for shortening, spread it in a pan,
 and filled it with a mixture
 of vinegar and water thickened with flour,
sweetened with maple syrup 
and flavored with a bit of spice bush.
    She baked it and behold,
 the first American pie! 
 In fact, it was the first pie, 
spicy and sweet,
of custard-like consistency 
and crispy crust,
 a poem in cookery. 
 Its originator was truly an artist,
as though she had written a poem
 or painted a picture,
 for she had used her creative instinct and
imagination with a fine technique.
    Thinking of pies and poems,
 I am more content with pie making
 for surely it is better to make
a good pie than a poor poem.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Original American Pie?

The first time I ever heard of "Vinegar Pie" was a recipe
I discovered while reading, "The Cowboys"
 a volume in a series of books on 
the Old West published by Time Life in the 1970's.

. As I recall, I think I had to cook the filling of the pie
 before I baked it, and I used vanilla extract 
instead of nutmeg for the flavoring.
Nevertheless, my pie turned out to be a
sweet, delicate creation akin to an 
old-fashioned custard pie.

My beloved maternal grandfather, Lou Yard,
who shared my love of trying unusual foods 
 just loved this pie!

Vinegar Pie

The recipe for Vinegar Pie below
 is taken from the book,
"The Little House Cook Book"
By Barbara M. Walker

1 9-inch pie crust
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour 
a pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons homemade vinegar
(you can substitute apple cider vinegar from the store)

Preheat oven to 400.
In a large bowl blend both sugars, flour, and nutmeg with
fingers until no lumps remain. 
Stir in vinegar, eggs, butter, and 1 cup
of water until well mixed.  Pour into pie shell and bake at
400 for 30 minutes.  Remove and cool until the filling
is firm enough for cutting.

"Pies and Poetry  March 1924" 
  From the book, "Little House In The Ozarks:
A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler  The Rediscovered Writings" 
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edited By Stephen W. Hines

* Such famous writers as Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson visited Laura's home in the Ozarks
on the invitation of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

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