Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Of (Odd) Pies We Sing

I should have come across the recipes for this entry closer to Pi Day, but what can I do? I don't feel like holding out that long, so today's post features "Of Pie We Sing," an article from the October 1941 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I mostly write about cookbooks because they're easier to find, but I'm so excited when I find an old magazine with recipes that I can't wait for a seasonally appropriate day!

There are plenty of old standbys in the article, like deep dish apple pie and lemon chiffon, but my eye was caught by these two:

Okay, the one on the left is just a pumpkin pie, but what is the star on top? I could almost imagine pineapple wedges, but that doesn't look quite right (and would probably be too expensive for families on the cusp of World War II anyway). Hmmm....

American cheese! Of course! The go-to meal enhancer for recipes where Jell-O wouldn't seem quite right (or perhaps, where it would seem even more wrong than usual).... I've heard of putting a slice of cheddar on apple pie, but the American cheese star on pumpkin is new to me. Next Thanksgiving, try putting some Kraft singles instead of Cool Whip on the pumpkin pie and see how that plays out.

Now what about the pie on top-- the one with the swirled filling topped with walnut halves and pretty little swag edging on the crust?

It's walnut-prune pie! Prunes are another ingredient that are far more popular in old recipes than their taste would seem to merit. I suspect they were the equivalent of kale in today's recipes. Home cooks could throw a few into any recipe they wanted to make and pretend the prunes (or kale) made the food suddenly healthy. Of course prunes negate all the whipping cream and heavy syrup in the filling, not to mention shortening in the crust. (Just like kale makes grilled cheese sandwiches or mashed potatoes with bacon into nutrition powerhouses today.)

I have to appreciate the power of self-delusion.

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