Friday, May 29, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Rolling in the Dough

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt has me thinking about pie. Cherry. Apple. Pumpkin. They’re my favorites, but I cannot choose a favorite favorite. While I’m no pastry chef, I do like to bake a pie from scratch. With so many packaged and frozen pie crusts on the market, rolling out the perfect crust is practically a lost art. But I prefer “the old ways” when it comes to pie – a pie deserves no less.

So why do so many cooks today opt for the ready-made crust?  Is it convenience? Fear? Maybe they don’t have the proper tools. I cannot remember the last time I saw “rolling pin” or “pastry cutter” on any bride’s gift registry. I own both and actually use them.  I also treasure the rolling pin and pastry cutter that belonged to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis.

Kitchen tools belonging to Mary Frances Jollett Davis  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Most of these tools belonged to Mary Frances Jollett Davis:
rolling pin, pastry cutter, potato masher, hand mixer,
spoon, lifter from a stove
Kitchen tools belonging to Mary Frances Jollett Davis  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Judging by her recipes penciled on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes, Mary Frances must have preferred creamy, pudding-like pies whereas I’m a fruit pie girl.

Recipes for Butterscotch, Caramel, Chocolate, and Mince-Meat pies

I can picture Mary Frances right now combining the flour and shortening with her pastry cutter, chilling the dough, patting it into a proper circle, and dusting it with flour before rolling out a perfect crust. I wonder which pie was her favorite – I hope it wasn’t mince-meat.

Mary Frances Jollett Davis http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mary Frances Jollett Davis
Is she holding a recipe card?

See what else is cooking at Sepia Saturday.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

45 comments:

  1. How wonderful that you have so many of your great-grandmother's kitchen tools!

    Like you, I also have a rolling pin and pastry cutter, although I haven't made a homemade pie crust in quite a while.

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    1. I'm sure we're "old school" having such antiquated tools in the drawer.

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  2. I've tried so many pie crust recipes - all guaranteed to make the perfect pie crust, but I've never had much luck. Consequently I use store bought, but I must admit 'from scratch' crusts are generally flakier & taste the best. I made pumpkin pies once for Thanksgiving. They looked so pretty going into the oven with their perfectly fluted edges. When they came out of the oven, however, those perfectly fluted edges had disappeared. In fact no part of the crust could be seen at all. Having never made a pie crust before, I didn't realize you have to lift it GENTLY into the pie pan rather than just smash it down in there. Oh well. The pie still tasted good. But - what do you have against mince-meat pie? It's just chopped apples & dates & raisins, & a bit of rum. Eaten with a dollop of hard sauce (butter, powdered sugar, & vanilla) - YUM!

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    1. Yeah, "fake" mince-meat is good because I'm a sucker for cinnamon and clove-flavored anything. However, you probably couldn't read the recipe for REAL mince-meat. Her recipe calls for 4 pounds of beef. I just can't get myself to put raisins and apples with beef.

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    2. You're right - the old fashioned 'true' mince meat pies contained actual meat & what's worse is the meat was often dressed up with the flavors of chopped up fruits because it was on the iffy side of okay to eat & needed some disguising. I'm glad somebody decided the modern meatless version was a good recipe to keep around. Same goes for why those fancy French sauces for meat came about back in the days before refrigeration. Also glad the sauce recipes stuck around after they were no longer needed to disguise meat going bad. Salad, by the way, used to be served after the meat course because somehow it helped keep people from getting sick after eating questionable meat. Aren't these all just delightful thoughts?

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  3. Wendy,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/05/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-may-29-2015.html

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Aw thanks -- I'm honored to make the list.

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  4. I too make my pie crust from scratch and like you, am a fruit pie gal. My mom has always been a fabulous pie maker and my girls make their pies from scratch as well, so perhaps it is a tradition that has been passed down. You are so lucky to have all of those fun kitchen tools passed down to you.

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    1. Both of my girls asked for rolling pins, so I assume they use them. (Fruit pies -- another sign we're twins separated at birth.)

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  5. Your g-grandmother and my Mrs. Sagan would have been best pals, I'll bet! NIce shots of kitchen tools, too!

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    1. I saw your listing at SS but haven't been around to visit anyone yet. When I read your comment there, I thought we might be on the same wave length with this prompt. I'm looking forward to learning about Mrs. Sagan.

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  6. I love all of the kitchen tools - how wonderful to have a part of your Great Grandmother always. My Grandmother Loraine's favorite pie was mince meat :-(

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    1. That's alright -- I still love Loraine anyway. My sisters-in-law are big mince-meat lovers too, and one of them will always bake a pie for Barry when we get together because they know he won't get a mince-meat pie from THIS kitchen!

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  7. Those kitchen tools tell quite a story -- the joys of cooking meals and desserts from scratch and the love for cooking for the family. I wonder what family cooking recipes were handed down to us all here on SS, I'd like to hear of a few ones. I know my aunties and mother had quite a few to make a recipe extra special..

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    1. My recipes that I actually use only go back to my grandmother. I don't recall seeing her use a cookbook or a recipe file.

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  8. Great post, I love old tools,etc. I have just reached the point I am downsizing. Your aunt was lucky to have a good person to take good care of her tools.

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    1. I think about that all the time -- what to do with stuff that is meaningful to me but not to my daughters.

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  9. She probably is, and she's thinking what absolutely delicious dessert will I please my family with today! A beautiful post Wendy.

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    1. I hope those were her thoughts!

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  10. I'm not a great cook by any stretch of the imagination but enjoyed watching other family members exercise their prowess in the kitchen - my parents and grandmother. My great aunt and great grandfather were bakers and I would like to have seen them in action. I've never been great at making pastry but agree that the bought stuff is not very successful. I made short crust pastry successfully for the first time this year though and I think it was because I inherited my father's magimix which took the hard work out of mixing the butter and sugar hoorah. Our mince pies were delicious at Xmas this year if I saw so myself and I do because I seem to be the only one that likes mince pies!

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    1. I'll confess that sometimes I've used a ready-made crust from Pillsbury that is actually good. My favorite crust recipe makes about 4 or 5 crusts, and I don't know how to cut it in half successfully, so sometimes I'll use the Pillsbury crust.

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  11. i like making shortcrust pastry, but the flaky or puff pastry looks like wat too much work, and I always buy that ready rolled. Must confess I wouldn't know what to do with that sort of pastry cutter, but my son who has trained as a baker could no doubt enlighten me. Australia's national dish is often claimed to be its meat pie, of which there are many different fillings, but mince in gravy is a staple.

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    1. The pastry cutter blends the flour and shortening.

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  12. Wonderful that you have all those tools and the recipes. I love modern meatless mincemeat but I agree the meaty ones sound repulsive. A lovely post.

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    1. I agree -- meatless mincemeat is good.

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  13. I have a pastry cutter and a rolling pin, but I don't use them. When I want pie, I buy a ready made pie from the grocery store's bakery.

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    1. Grocery store bakeries have gotten better over the years. Sometimes though I find there is more crust than filling, but in a pinch most of the time they're respectable.

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  14. I've been sorry not to have a pastry cutter for years...have to cut the shortening in with 2 knives, and it takes much longer. But I did learn with the proper tool at least in my mom's kitchen. Thanks for sharing about these important tools of pie making.

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    1. Oh yes -- I remember using 2 knives before I got a pastry cutter but I had forgotten that.

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  15. How sweet you have the things from your great grandmother! I remember my mom made all of her pie crusts from scratch; I think I made a total of five; its not that hard even to do, I guess maybe convenience to buy the already made ones? I do know my grandmother was the type of baker that she never measured anything with flour, etc., when making breads, etc., she just knew how much to put in. Lost art I do believe with so much with cooking/baking from the past to these days.

    betty

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    1. I can't remember seeing a cookbook in my grandmother's house. I do know she often tried recipes she found in magazines.

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  16. Great pie making memories. I too am a "from scratch pie maker." I do, however, remember a brief love affair with a plastic Tupperware rolling pin. My old wooden rolling pin kept calling to me from it's place in the secondary utensil drawer. Soon, the infatuation wore off, and my old rolling pin (now in it's 60's) reclaimed it's rightful place in the top drawer.

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    1. I had a Tupperware one too -- you put ice-water inside. Yeah, I prefer flouring a wooden rolling pin.

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  17. Great photos of your heirlooms, Wendy. I agree, I far prefer the home-made versions.

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  18. I too have a rolling pin, though not an inherited one.You are so lucky to have not only the baking tools, but also the photograph. Butterscotch Pie? Sounds lovely but way too many calories!

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    1. Oh yeah, that butterscotch sounds much too sweet for me. I prefer the sweet and tart of apples or cherries.

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  19. I've never had one of those pastry cutters, only my fingertips. They look useful.

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  20. Classic photo!
    I am not a pie person, but there is one I love....Sour cream apple! I should email you the recipe :)

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  21. My grandmother was a pie-maker, too. Extraordinaire. Fruit. She knew the favorite pie of each of her grandchildren and occasionally baked a pie us for one or the other of us. Of course we shared, but only after we got the first piece.

    I love your collection of your g-grandmother's kitchen utensils. It's wonderful someone had the forethought to realize they would be desirable items to preserve.

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  22. I found the Cuisnart makes wonderful crust, but I use the old rolling pin my grandfather made for rolling out the dough. So I get a bit of both worlds. I do love baking pies. Actually really the only thing I enjoy cooking. I look forward to the peach tree and apple trees each summer. I'm hoping there were enough bees this spring to do the job.

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    1. My husband loves a peach pie. I'll take your apple, thank-you very much.

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