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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

From Scratch: 1963

From Scratch: 1963

My mother had to do something with all the fruit and berries from my father's garden, so if it wasn't made into jams and jellies, or canned, or frozen, it went into cakes and pies. We had a lot of pies. Lord knows what that stuff is for this one; if I didn't know better, I'd say it looks like Chicken McNuggets. As usual, the equipment spans the decades from the 30s to the 60s. The board, stamped "Howard" on the end, is among the oldest, along with the sifter (behind the flour sack), measuring cup and glass pie plate. The stainless steel bowl, part of a nest of three, came along in the late 50s. The teardrop-shaped enameled wood salt and pepper shakers (left of flour sack) are just there because this is our kitchen table. Newest item is probably the plastic mixing spoon. Interesting that she kept her diamond engagement ring on for this operation. My mother is 55 here; I was 16 when I shot this Tri-X negative; now I'm about to turn 65 and I still haven't made a pie from scratch. View full pies.

Tterrace, thanks for the encouragement

I am 63 and have NEVER made a pie in my life!!! Why would you make one when you can go to the bakery. Ha ha. I hate baking but love your pictures. Maybe my daughter will eventually make a pie but I'm not betting on it!! Love your pictures! Thank you.

Mmm -- piiiieeee!

Tterrace, you are KILLING me! Now, I want pie (whine).

As for not from scratch, you can buy frozen ones to bake vs. ready to eat from the bakery.

There are two pies in my freezer right now: pumpkin (blechh!) and raspberry (drrrooooll). Since it is raining and 65 degrees (this is SUMMER?!) I think it's time to fire up the oven! Anybody want to bring the ice cream?

Pies, Pasties and Sausage-rolls.

This photo brings waves of nostalgia washing over me. I could be back as a 7-year-old boy looking at my grandmother in her kitchen when she baked fruit pies (apple and and mulberry were our favourites), vegetable pasties and sausage-rolls. The aroma was mouth-watering.

She was a super pastry-cook and my father used to tell stories of how she was known throughout the neighbourhood in their Sydney suburb for her cooking.

Cripes! Now I'm hungry!

[Baked pasties -- yum. - Dave]

Thank You

I'm with Green Machine. Thank you again, Tterrace. The next time I'm at my mom's house, I'm taking a picture of her hands. Many years from now, I'll pull out the photograph, reminisce about Mom and say "Thanks, Tterrace." And the nurse on duty will think I've finally gone off.

I love making pies! The secret to a great pie is of course the crust. The secret to good crust is the pastry board.

P.S. The newfangled silicone mats don't cut it.

The cherries are waiting

I have a bunch of pie cherries which I have to do something with, so if the kids can get enough of the kitchen clean I think I'll make a cherry pie tonight. I make a good crust (so I'm told) but like most guys ancient or modern I don't have the Mo organization to just keep cranking the stuff out. And probably more of my crusts go into quiches than fruit or custard pies.

Thinking about my equipment it occurs to me that some small part of it is really just about as old, relatively speaking, as some of your mom's stuff in the picture. I don't use a board (I have a marble slab but it's too much trouble to get out for basic pie making), so I roll things out directly on the slide-out counter of the hoosier, which is pushing eighty now; my rolling pin is the one I got when I moved into my own place about twenty-five years back. Man, this is making me feel old.

My mom was of the "everyone needs to know basic cooking" school but she never taught me any of this stuff and pies weren't her thing. I pretty much taught myself with the help of Meta Givens's New Encyclopedia of Cooking, on the of classic postwar cookbooks. Volume II opens directly to her pie crust formula.

Nothing says lovin'

Like something from the oven,
And Pillsbury says it best.

Mother's Pie

My first thought after looking at the enlargement was peach. But I think I'll go with apricot. That was her favorite. In any event, she always mixed the sugared peaches or apricots with a little tapioca so that the juices would thicken while baking. That explains the little granules on the fruit.

Snowdrift Slug

I remember that can from when I was a little kid. That lump of lard on the spoon always looked like a Casper banana slug ghost to me. Still does. Probably why Crisco won the war.

[If you'll pardon the expression, it's a big lard-S. - Dave]

The Spell Was Broken

As always, I came to Shorpy for an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
Then someone had to mention rhubarb pie.
All set, thanks.
I'll try again tomorrow.

Looks like the set of a cooking show!

My first thought was frozen apples dredged in sugar and cinnamon. She has a blouse/dress with 3/4 sleeves, so I bet it's not summer. The fruit had probably been frozen.

Like others have commented, my mom never took her rings off to do messy stuff. Maybe if she had her hands in something caustic, but she was smart enough not to stick her hands in that stuff.

She was so organized! I bet she could turn out a pie in nothing flat. It takes me half an hour to find the sifter.

It also amazes me that women back then could put together a 5 course meal with no countertops to speak of. Of course, they did everything on the kitchen table. Now, we have "breakfast nooks". Long walk from the sink.

What the heck was Snow Drift?

No lard for this family

Let us pause to remember Snowdrift, which lost the shortening war to Crisco.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8KwVv4OMok

Pies

Thanks for sharing your family pictures so generously.
I always look forward to seeing them and reading your descriptions.

Pie piece possibilities

Frozen peaches, possibly sugared, was the most plausible of my own guesses. We had plums, but those were too sloppy for pies and usually went into jelly. Apricot pie was a personal favorite, but these here don't look quite the right shape. No cumquats (C-U-M-quats! Quats! Quats!), but we had loquats. Didn't do anything with them but eat them right off the tree - delicious, but gigantic pits. We had a red-flowering quince (seen here in bloom), but the first and only experiment doing anything with them - jelly - was not well-received. Persimmons went into a bread, crabapples into jelly. Pears got canned, baked in wine sauce, and occasionally into pies, as did prunes. Yes, we had rhubarb pie, too. Not one of my favorites, but hey - it was pie. Blackberries - OMG, Mother's blackberry dumplings!

Dave, you're showing your youth here. That rolling pin would more likely be aimed at Jiggs.

[Actually was thinking of "Fraidy Cat." - Dave]

Pie, schmy

She's waiting to klonk Tom on the head.

Mama's hands

I don't know about you guys, but there is something very comforting about my mama's hands. This picture makes me want to drive down across town right now just to hug her.

Peaches, perchance?

They look like peach slices dredged in sugar and flour.

Mmmmmm ... Peach pie!

Mmmm, pie, peach pie

You mean there is another way than to bake a pie from scratch (not counting buying an already made one at a store)? I have no clue what it would be.

My mother made the best pies (with her wedding ring on, of course. It is still on her today at age 80. I have never seen her with it off). And by the time I was ten, I could make the exact pie by myself. And I still do.

I got in trouble in school one day, when we had pie in the refrigerator from the previous night's meal. I ate it for breakfast. (Not in trouble at home. You find it, you can eat it).

That day the teacher went around the room and asked everyone what they'd had for breakfast. My lying classmates made up all kinds of fanciful three course meals with bacon, and eggs, and toast, orange juice, and milk.

I never had a breakfast like that in my life, other than at a restaurant. So I told her I had peach pie. There was no master chef and servants on duty at my house, preparing three course meals at 7 a.m. She told me I was lying, that my parents wouldn't allow that.

Like fun I was lying. My mother's scratch pie was the best thing she made. And I wasn't going to leave it in the refrigerator for somebody else to finish off before I got home.

Mom's ring

Also being a 1946-model baby boomer I remember most mom's of that era rarely removed their wedding or engagement rings, no matter the activity. Mine here in San Diego made rhubarb pies, kidney bean salads and strawberry guava jelly, all now rarely encountered but delicious in my memories. I've only twice attempted recreating the salad but haven't quite mastered it as yet; my own mom's been gone since 1988. My older niece now has her rings but lacks her grandmother's culinary interests.

Bitter Fruit

Any chance your folks had a quince tree? They grow well in parts of California, and there are varieties that are edible when cooked in pies, jellies, etc. Even fully ripe, they are bitter and have an unpleasant astringent quality. Fresh quince look like small lumpy apples, and I wonder if the fruit, presuming it is fruit, in the pie shell might be pared quince coated with spices and sugar. Surely, you'd remember your mother making quince pie, unless she fudged a bit and told the kids they were eating apple pie. It wouldn't be the first time a mother used subtrefuge to get children to try something different.

Plum, or maybe peach?

Great photo! I wish I had a picture of my grandmother baking pies from scratch. I think the fruit in this pie is something soft that has been sliced in fairly large slices, and then dredged in flour, sugar, and maybe something like cinnamon. Did you have some kind of plum tree? It looks a little dark to be peach, but that is the only other guess I can think of right now. It could also be something that has been frozen, which makes it even softer. The peaches I freeze don't look too pretty after they have been thawed, but still make a good pie. This makes me want to go thaw some and bake a pie!

P.S.
Aenthal, a slice of homemade fruit or pumpkin pie and a glass of milk is the best breakfast I can think of! I never make just one pie, so that we have leftovers to eat for breakfast.

Kumquat pie ???

Those might be candied Kumquats in that pie dish. Strange little citrus fruit in that the rind was sweet and the center was sour ! My mother was a bake-aholic, pies and cakes for any occasion. About twice a year she made Kumquat pie for a good friend of hers' and I remember sampling the Kumquats,Tasty but not for everybody ! If you curious, recipes are available on Google. By the way tterrace,looks like your mom made a great pie!

Thanks for the Memories

Bless you young 16 year-old Tterrace, your camera, and your wonderful mother. You had the prescience to take the photographs that the rest of us now wish we had taken. Thanks to your eye for what is important, many of us can spend a few minutes back in our own mom's warm, welcoming kitchen.

 
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