Monday, May 11, 2009

Pies from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook

I enjoy my collection of vintage nasturtium tinware. The canisters are beat up but I got a match holder that is like new, complete with stamped-on price: 15 cents (probably from an old hardware store inventory).

I love this cookbook. I remember taking it out of the Jaffrey Library when I was around 10, back when I had long summer days to spend on visits to my grandparents' New Hampshire farm. Along with The Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook by Mary Mason Campbell, which I've blogged about many times before, I transcribed many of the recipes because I wanted to absorb all of it (not much has changed in the information gathering department–and you should see my boxes of recipe clippings that need sorting and organizing...). Today, thanks to the internet and scouring used bookstores, I own it. My cookbook collection is vast and some would argue unnecessary. (But hey, I'm recycling used books in purchasing many of them...)

The winter before last, our first in Kentucky, our neighbor Larry made us a cushaw pie. We started talking about cookbooks and he said that Farm Journal's Country Cookbook was one of his favorites. Published in 1959 and revised in 1972 it includes 25 years of Farm Journal's best recipes. I'm not sure if this magazine is still in publication but I've collected many old issues and used some in my research and imagery for The Pantry–Its History and Modern Uses. It integrated a section called "The Farmer's Wife" that focused on recipes, sewing patterns and other tidbits for running a farm home (my favorites are letters and ideas from women readers).

Fresh, local rhubarb chopped and ready to bake in the pie shells–it looks like pinkish celery and is puckery sweet when mixed with sugar. I also like to make rhubarb sauce (just rhubarb with sugar, cooked on the stove) which is d-i-v-i-n-e when swirled into homemade vanilla custard with a bit of whipped cream (I think that might be Rhubarb Fool).

A few weeks ago I posted about making the first rhubarb pie of the season (well, the first pie I've made in a long time, actually, and you should have seen how dusty was the rolling pin!) At the time I made enough for four 9" bottom crusts and froze two of them. Such ease to remove them from the freezer, thaw in the fridge and roll out (well, I'm still working on the "rolling out" part...).

No, it's not quiche, silly, it's rhubarb custard pie with leftover custard to bake for the boys' breakfast in the morning.

Tonight we are having pie for dessert: I made two rhubarb custard pies (husband's request) and two strawberry chiffon pies (baker's choice and using those ready-made graham cracker crusts–not the same as homemade when you blend melted butter, sugar and cracker crumbs, but it works). I also wanted to make two pies for Anna and Melvin to "show off" Rosemary's pie crust (and Anna is always making us pie and it's time to reciprocate). The chiffon pie is the result of having a really lackluster taste of one at a place billed as an "Amish buffet" somewhere off I-70 in Indiana. I should have known better about the Amish authenticity (not) and could taste the distinctive artificial topping flavor (although I now realize it always "sets" better than whipped cream). As it is rhubarb season in Kentucky and there are soon to be local strawberries (what a difference in flavor), the timing seems opportune. And, as you can see, the ingredients are all real. Enjoy!

Both recipes are from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook (1972):

Strawberry Chiffon Pie
"Fresh as Spring and Luscious" (I couldn't have said it better...)

• 2 cups fresh strawberries
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1/2 cup hot water
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 egg whites
• 12 strawberries (reserved for optional garnish if you want to gild lily!)

Crush 2 cups of berries; cover with 1/2 cup sugar and let stand 30 minutes. Soften gelatin in cold water; dissolve in hot water. Cool. Add crushed berries, lemon juice and salt. Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon. Test frequently while chilling (I found it to be fine in about 45 minutes–maybe less as I ran an errand in that time). Fold in 1/2 cup cream, whipped. Beat egg whites until frothy; add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until glossy, firm peaks form. Fold into strawberry mixture. Spoon into pie crust and chill until firm. Garnish with remaining 1/2 cup cream and sliced or whole berries.

NOTE: I think "chill until firm" means all night...we more or less had strawberry pudding, but it was good!

Rhubarb Custard Pie

• Unbaked 9" pie shell (I used Rosemary's recipe)
• 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb (about 4 cups)
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 Tbsp. flour
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine (why, BUTTER of course!)
• 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 2 Tbsp. sugar

Combine rhubarb (cut into 1/4" slices), sugar, flour, lemon juice and salt. Toss to mix and turn into pie shell. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes. In the meantime, beat eggs slightly, stir in cream, butter and nutmeg to blend. Pour over hot rhubarb in pie shell and sprinkle with sugar. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean and pie is slightly browned on top. Cool before serving.


a Cupcake near you! said...

You are on a roll! Blog-a-go-go -- look forward to seeing you in New England this June. Are you having a book signing somewhere?
Best wishes,
Maggie Pearl

a Cupcake near you! said...

Oh Catherine, I love this post! I still have my very first cookbooks--they are all Farm Journal books.

I can still see them sitting on my Ann Arbor window sill next to a basket (which I also still have) holding an asparagus fern. (The fern is long gone. I've got a floured thumb, not a green one...)

This post takes me back. Thanks for the memories and I wish I could drop over for a piece of pie.


Bláithín said...

Yes, memories galore! I remember thumbing through my parents' copies of The Farm Journal as a child growing up on the family farm in northern Indiana. If I remember correctly, there was a pen pal section that I scoured every issue (I may be confusing this with another farm publication, like The Prarie Farmer). And rhubarb pie, mmmmmm. Wish I could eat it now (I've currently banished sugar and wheat from my diet, sadly). Thanks for a wonderful post and stroll down memory lane!

tipper said...

Those are my favorite kind of cook books. The pies look yummy!

Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read this article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).

Catherine said...

Why thank you ~ I love this pie crust recipe from my friend Rosemary. I could devour a rhubarb pie right now.

Sorry there are no pics of the Strawberry Chiffon pie, however! Don't know how I managed that.

Thanks for reading,