Historic Holiday Eats – Pumpkin (Pie)


Happy Thanksgiving Week, everyone! In honor of the impending holiday, the historic recipe I followed this week was for “Pompkin,” aka Pumpkin Pie. This was listed under the pudding section of recipes in American Cookerybut it did call for baking the “pudding” inside a crust, so I am saying that it’s pumpkin pie. 😉

I will admit, this has been the most difficult recipe I have tried to follow from this cookbook published in 1798, but it was a great learning experience. (Bonus: Now I can say that I’ve made two pumpkin pies from scratch. Why two? Let’s find out.)

Here are the recipes for “Pompkin” in American Cookery:

Pumpkin Pie

It reads:
“No. 1. One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross and chequer it, and baked in dishes three quarters of an hour.
No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.”

I’m sure you noticed that it said to lay the mixture into “paste No. 7 or 3.” This cookbook includes a section of pastes or crusts to use when baking pies or tarts, labeled by numbers. I decided to go with paste No. 3.

Pie CrustIt reads:
“No. 3 To any quantity of flour, rub in three fourths of its weight of butter, (12 eggs to a peck) rub in one third or half, and roll in the rest.”

I know that sounds incredibly confusing (I ran this through my mind for literally hours before coming to a conclusion on what to do), and I will explain how I came to all of the measurements I used when I get to the crust step below.

I first decided to follow recipe No. 2 for the pumpkin pie. It was interesting, to say the least.


Ingredients: 4 cups (1 quart) of whole milk, 2 cups (1 pint) of pumpkin, 4 eggs, 1 cup of molasses, 3/4 teaspoon each of ginger and allspice.



The first step was to cut the pumpkin in half (after tearing off the stem) and to remove its seeds and stringy guts. This pumpkin was particularly hard, so I had to use a hammer to help get the knife through it. (Sorry to my neighbors.)


I lightly salted the inside of the pumpkin halves and roasted them on a well-buttered sheet pan for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. They then needed to cool for an hour before handling.


While the pumpkin halves were cooling, I started on the pie crust. As the recipe says, it just calls for flour, butter, and eggs. Based off of modern recipes, I determined that for one pie crust, I would need one cup of flour. 1 cup generally equals 8 ounces, so I then decided to use 6 ounces of butter (three quarters of the weight of the flour). That equals 1 and a half sticks. To determine how many eggs to use in this recipe, I then performed some really complicated math that I can’t recall at the moment. It had to do with how much a peck weighs (about 158 ounces). Since there are “12 eggs to a peck” (a peck of dough and butter, I assume), I determined, somehow, that I would only need one egg. So to recap: 1 cup of flour, 1 and a half sticks of butter, 1 egg.


To make the dough, I kept the butter very cold and cut it into rough pieces. (Keeping the butter very cold and not fully integrated helps to create a flaky crust.) I mixed in the egg, and I ended up adding in about 2 tablespoons of water to make everything stick together. I wrapped up the dough in a tight mound and refrigerated it for about 20 minutes.


After refrigerating, I “rolled” the dough out (I don’t have a rolling pin, so I actually just pushed it out into a general circle shape with my hands), and I put it in a disposable pie pan. I then refrigerated it again while I made the pie filling.


I scraped both halves of the pumpkin into a bowl.


I then mashed the pumpkin.


To the mashed pumpkin, I added the milk, molasses, eggs, and spices. (I believe I used too much molasses–1 cup–if you can’t tell by the color of the mixture.) I heated the mixture on the stove to fully incorporate everything. Molasses tends to sink to the bottom of the mixing bowl, so heating it makes it easier to incorporate.


I then placed the pie crust on a sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven. I poured the pie filling into the crust here to minimize my chances of spilling it on the way to the oven. (Which, let’s face it, would have happened. I am not known for being graceful.)


I baked the pie at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. It came out looking very…dark, and pretty un-pumpkin pie-like.


After letting it cool for an hour, I cut into the pie. It pretty much tasted like pumpkin pie, but the texture wasn’t quite right, and the color was WAY off. However, I did like the crust. It was completely cooked through, and it held up nicely out of the pan.

Obviously, the first attempt at pumpkin pie didn’t quite turn out as I planned it. This can happen when you’re following what is essentially a half-recipe, so I decided to give it another shot!


This time, I decided to go with recipe No. 1, but I cut it in half. Using 4 cups of pumpkin and 6 cups of cream would have been WAY too much. So here is what I used for my second attempt: 2 cups of pumpkin, 3 cups of heavy whipping cream, 4 eggs (beaten), 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. (This recipe calls for mace, but I could not find this in the store. Upon doing research, I found that mace is made from the outer layer of nutmeg, but it can be replaced with allspice, nutmeg, or even cinnamon depending on the flavor you’re going for. I decided to replace it with allspice.)


I cut, de-gutted, salted, and roasted (at 400 degrees for 40 minutes) the pumpkin again. (It cut much easier this time–I think my first pumpkin may have been defective, and that may have also contributed to the lackluster final product.)


While the pumpkin halves cooled, I made the crust in the same way as before. This shows how large I left the chunks of butter within the crust.



I smashed the dough out by hand again. Make sure to have plenty of flour on the surface you’re using to “roll” it and plenty on your hands as well!



This time, I poked holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork (because I don’t have a “dough spur”), as per the recipe. I refrigerated the dough while assembling the pie mixture.


The “meat” of the pumpkin came out of the skin much easier the second time. It pretty much fell out and into the bowl as soon as I picked up the halves.


This time, I decided that in order to get everything fully integrated, I would use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment. This worked very well because the whisk picked up the large parts of pumpkin that wouldn’t disintegrate, and I could easily discard it when I removed the whisk. I whisked everything together for about 8 minutes.


I poured my pretty, light orange mixture inside the crust and baked it on the bottom rack of the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.


When the pie came out, it looked much more like a traditional pumpkin pie! I let it cool for one and a half hours before cutting.


When I cut into the pie, I was happy to see that my crust held up once again and that the interior had a much better consistency and color than the first attempt.


Since my pie turned out so pretty, I decided to make whipped cream with my one cup of left over heavy whipping cream to top it off. I added two tablespoons of sugar to it, and I let the stand mixer and whisk attachment beat the cream for about 9 minutes [until it looked like cream!]. Before mixing, I put my mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes. The pie and the cream both tasted great! I am much happier with the second result. 🙂


Left: Attempt 1. Right: Attempt 2. Lesson: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 😉

I was very pleased with the outcome of my second pie, and I am very glad that I gave it another shot after the first one turning out not-so-good. Pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin is so delicious! I’m glad that I’ve now made it from scratch (twice). 🙂

Also, the pie mixture made more than enough for one pie (enough for two actually), so I was able to do a little something extra with my left over pie filling!


I added 3 cups of flour and 3 teaspoons of baking powder to the filling, put it in cake/loaf pans, baked it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, and called it pumpkin bread! (Also very delicious!)




I also roasted the pumpkin seeds after cleaning them and tossing them with Cayenne pepper and cumin! (Baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.) You can toss them with whatever tickles your fancy though–sugar and cinnamon, parmesan and oregano, etc. 😀


So, making pumpkin pie from scratch is obviously totally worth it not only because it is super tasty, but also because you can create so many goodies out of all the leftover ingredients! However, you must know that you need to be able to dedicate at least FOUR (4) HOURS to this task. It is by no means a quick (or guaranteed) recipe!

I hope you all make something with pumpkin this Thanksgiving, but even if you don’t, I hope you have a fun day! And don’t forget–no matter how exhausted you may get making dinner for your friends or family, it is nothing compared to what our foremothers had to do! Be thankful!



The Dog Days of Winter


When Sam and I made the decision to move to Chicago, we knew we had a lot of planning to do. (Luckily, planning is my specialty.) We set out plans for apartment hunting, for the moving process (culling items, truck rental, route planning, etc.), for what we would be doing months after the move. At the center of all of this was our dogs. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every aspect of our lives revolves around them, so we took them into consideration for every. single. plan. We chose a more rural route with plenty of stops on the way up for them to have potty breaks, we chose an apartment on the second floor instead of third so they wouldn’t have to go up so many steps (they are seniors, after all), we chose a neighborhood that is pretty much the most pet-friendly area of Chicago. Our days revolve around their walks. Missy and Cosmo are central to our lives, and we want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible.

Enter winter in Chicago–our dogs have spent their entire lives in Middle Tennessee, so we knew from the get-go that we would have to prepare them properly for the cold that was about to head their way. We’re no strangers to dog cold weather gear–our dog Ruby, a Maltese, had hair (not fur, so no undercoat), so we always had a little sweater for her to wear in the winter because she would get colder much sooner than our other two dogs with relatively thick fur–but now that the dogs are in for temperatures that dip into the negatives, they are in need of more protection from the cold than their Southern-raised fur is accustomed to providing.

Before we moved, we did some research into the most important aspects of keeping pets comfortable in the cold, and we found that foot protection is key. Not only does ice accumulate on the ground (on which no one wants to walk barefoot), but salt used to melt ice and snow will get into the grooves of a dog’s paws and cause cuts and irritation. Now, Missy and Cosmo are very finicky about their feet (Missy especially), so we knew they would be absolutely miserable (and we would be covered in scratches) if we tried to put booties on them to protect their paws. So we looked into alternatives and found something commonly used by owners of dogsled teams called Musher’s Secret.


musher's secret

I thank the universe for the creation of this product. It is a wax (smells and looks like Carmex) that you put on your dog’s paws before going outside, and it provides a protective layer between their skin and the ice/snow/salt/whatever. Amazingly, the dogs will sit relatively still while we apply this wax and will walk normally with it on. I LOVE IT.

Moving up from the foot, they obviously need their bodies to be kept warm. I did hours of research into the correct type of coat to buy for Cosmo and Missy. I wanted something that would cover their stomachs and something that had sleeves that would partially cover their legs. I finally found a “3-in-1 Eskimo Jacket” from East Side Collection that met my idea of a dog parka perfectly. It comes with a detachable hood, a fleece liner, and an outer coat. I ordered a gray coat with a red liner for Cosmo and a brown coat with a pink liner for Missy.

dog jacket

We made sure to measure their chests and backs before ordering to make sure we had the correct size, and I am very glad we did that because we had to order a large for Missy (who weighs 24 pounds)  and an extra large for Cosmo (who weighs 38 pounds). These coats are NOT meant for very large dogs, so it is really important to measure before buying! After the coats arrived, we tested them out on a particularly chilly night, and I must say that my pups look adorable in them. They also seem to actually keep Cosmonaut and the Missinator warm, so once they get used to wearing them more regularly, my little gal and little guy will appreciate having them in the depths of winter! (One side note: Cosmo’s fleece liner was slightly too long–a problem because he would pee on it accidentally–so I hemmed it, and now it works perfectly!) 


Here they are in all of their adorableness. 🙂


Besides purchasing the right equipment for them, Sam and I also make a point to get the dogs out several times a day, in all of the varying temperatures as of late, so I am hoping that being outside regularly now will help them when the weather takes a turn for freezing and stays there. We shall see about that, and I’ll be sure to post updates! I’ve enjoyed getting Missy and Cosmo ready for their first winter in Chicago, and I hope they enjoy it (for the most part). 🙂


When taking breaks from roaming the cold Chicago streets [with Mom and Dad], Cosmo and Missy will stay warm this winter by cuddling!


Taking a Stroll through Gotham


As you most likely know (whether you’re dreading or looking forward to it), there is a movie to be released in 2016 called Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I, personally, am more of a Batman fan than a Superman fan, so I am excited to be living in the city that most often serves as the double for Batman’s home, aka “Gotham.” Last week, Batman vs. Superman was filming in Chicago, so Sam and I decided to venture out and take a look at one of the filming locations along with Sam’s mom (Ramona), who was in town visiting us.

We headed out in a twelve-degree wind chill on November 13 to the Lawrence Red Line stop on the El, and we were transported to Bruce Wayne’s Gotham…


CTA becomes GTA. I’m digging those fares.


Lawrence Red Line becomes Gotham River Green Line.


The Mark of Zorro–the film playing the night Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered.


Sam geeking out (along with tons of other Batman fans hanging around the Aragon Theatre that night)!


Film crew setting up inside Aragon Theatre. Do you see any famous blurs? 😉


Gotham Transit Authority


Green Gotham Taxi!


Our cold group. (Thanks to the security guy who offered to take our picture!)


I love these old taxis. Can’t wait to see them on the big screen!


One last look at the scene before they shut it down to start filming!


Moments like the ones photographed above make me remember why I fought so hard to make it to Chicago. I’m so glad we’re living here, and I can’t wait to see this scene in the Batman vs. Superman movie (in a year and a half)!

Sleepy Hollow Season 2, Episode 9 Recap


“Mama” was the episode I have been waiting for this season. Sleepy Hollow has disappointed me for the past few weeks, but tonight’s show was a step in the right direction.

In episode 9, we learn more about Abbie, Jenny, and their family legacy while the sisters are investigating a series of suicides at Tarrytown Psych, where their mother (played by Aunjanue Ellis) committed suicide 15 years prior and where Jenny has previously been a patient as well. The Mills sisters encounter their mother and overcome a demon with her help. They finally get a little bit of closure regarding their mother’s death, and they gain understanding as to the difficulty of their childhood. Emotions were raw this episode, and every scene between Beharie, Greenwood, and Ellis was both heartfelt and heartbreaking.

The sisters leave the hospital having vanquished the demon plaguing it by using a spell inside a journal that belonged to their ancestor Grace Dixon (the same Grace Dixon who assisted Katrina while she was giving birth to the future Horseman of War). Now they have a powerful tool to help them win this war.

This episode also featured more of Captain Frank Irving, a major character who has been sorely missed this season. Since it ends with him escaping from Tarrytown, we know we’ll be seeing much more of him in upcoming episodes as well! (Yay!)

Ichabod was sick with a cold this episode, so he stayed out of the story for the most part. He did manage to fit in an argument with Abbie about his “wife,” (he better watch himself yelling at Abbie) but he was quickly put to the side with the help of Nick Hawley, who apparently carries around roofies for putting sick people to sleep…

Speaking of Hawley, he was in this episode. (That’s as much excitement as I can conjure for him.) He mostly stayed out of the way throughout it, which is good. He did hold a flashlight when needed, so we know he’s good for something. 😉

Next week brings us part one of the mid-season finale, so I am hoping to see things come to a head with the Witnesses (mostly Abbie calling Ichabod out on his selfishness) and for the Katrina and baby/child Moloch ridiculous storyline to work itself out.

In the meantime, I’ll bask in the glory of “Mama.” Bring us more episodes like this, Sleepy Hollow writers!

Sleepy Hollow Mama


Historic Holiday Eats – Whipped Syllabub


Syllabub is an “adult beverage” that has traditionally been made for special events and holiday gatherings for centuries. I’ve heard mixed reviews as to syllabub’s taste (from “yummy” to “let’s never speak of that concoction again”), so when I came across a couple of syllabub recipes in American Cookery, I had to give them a try!

This week’s recipe is “A Whipt Syllabub,” which is meant for topping desserts and drinks at holiday parties. It’s like alcoholic cool whip, so there was no way I wasn’t going to make this, for I am a cool whip/whipped cream fiend. I literally can’t control myself around it. (Don’t worry, I’ll be making an actual liquid syllabub in December, so you’ll be seeing more alcoholic goodness.)

Here is the lovely recipe for A Whipt Syllabub by Amelia Simmons:

Whipt Syllabub

It reads: “Take two porringers of cream and one of white wine, grate in the skin of a lemon, take the whites of three eggs, sweeten it to your taste, then whip it with a whisk, take off the froth as it rises and put it into your syllabub glasses or pots, and they are fit for use.”

The first mystery I had to uncover was in finding out what, exactly, is a porringer. After a little research, I discovered that porringers were small, often pewter, bowls that varied in size from anywhere between two inches and nine inches in diameter. So that did little to help me in finding out what kind of measurements to use for this recipe. So I did what I do best–I completely guessed. Let’s see how that went.


Here are my ingredients! I used Moscato because that is my favorite white wine. You can use whatever wine you fancy, however.


For the heavy whipping cream, I just poured the entire small jug I got into a measuring cup and determined that it equaled two cups. That was my equivalent of “two porringers,” so I then used one cup of the Moscato.



I mostly wanted to take a picture of this because I could not believe that I successfully separated three eggs on the first try. 😉 The three egg whites went into the mixture next!



To finish off the mixture, I added the “skin” [zest] of one lemon and two tablespoons of sugar.


I had great intentions of just using a hand whisk and sheer muscle power to whip up this syllabub when I first started out, but it quickly became evident that I did not have the strength or patience to do that. I ended up using my stand mixer to finish the job. I would like to formally apologize to my foremothers who I let down by doing this, and I want you to know that you were all much better women than I am. I would not have lived very long in the colonial era.


My handy dandy mixer [cheating machine] whipped up my syllabub very nicely after about 10 minutes on the second to highest speed. [Again, hats off to the colonial ladies who did this all by hand.]


I started off slow with the syllabub, not knowing how much my husband and I would like it. I poured a small amount of wine into a glass and topped it with a thin layer of my whipped syllabub.


We quickly learned that whipped syllabub is one of the most heavenly things to ever pass by our lips, so we decided to go for much more on the next round. [Wine is on the bottom, mixed with left over syllabub from the first drink, topped with more syllabub. This is DIVINE. Seriously, one of the best things I have ever tasted.]


At this point, we got a little “Syllabub Silly” as I now like to call it, and we decided to top everything with it. Here is syllabub-topped hot chocolate. [Beats marshmallows hands down.]

(Side note: If you are wondering about the “syllabub glasses or pots” mentioned in the recipe, it is referring to small cups with spouts on the side, kind of like mini teapots.) 

As a result of this recipe experiment, I now have a new favorite “whipped cream” topping for desserts. It is a sweet wine cream topping, so what’s not to love? I seriously want to top so many things with this–pumpkin pie, cider, cookies, cake, other alcoholic drinks…

All in all, this was a super fun recipe, and I am excited about making another, stand-alone syllabub next month.