Nothing says fall like delicious pies lining the Thanksgiving table: pumpkin, apple... and squash pie?
I hadn't heard of this delicacy until I dove into Sara Delano Roosevelt's household book, which houses everything from the instructions for the layette set she stitched for Franklin to how to detect a sewer leak (a little bit of peppermint oil!). Her household book was compiled into print by Clara and Hardy Steeholm and sent to publication in 1950. This gem of a find is rich with the Roosevelt's personal lives and provides an intimate look at their history.
It's amazing what you might learn about a person by what happens in their kitchen, and Sara Roosevelt's book is no different. Though she didn't actually cook, her staff cooked for her, and the recipes she compiled each had a unique story from her journey. Some she picked up while traveling- Parisian Pancakes, anyone? Many came from her sister Annie, and one peeked my attention given to her by "Mother Roosevelt."
Does that name just sound intimidating, or is it just me?
"Mother Roosevelt" was Sara’s mother-in-law Mary Rebecca Aspinwall Roosevelt.
Mary was born in 1809 and married Isaac Roosevelt when she was 18 which came as a bit of a shock because Isaac was somewhat of a squire recluse nearly twice her age.
Nonetheless, they welcomed James Roosevelt (1828), the father of future president FDR, and twelve years later they welcomed a second son, John (1840). They lived on their estate, Rosedale, which still stands today.
Now, Mary wasn't likely to be cooking this recipe herself. From census reports, we see that in 1850, Mary lived with Isaac, James, and John as well as a coachman, groom, gardener, and three domestic servants. The following census lists them with a gardener, a coachman, and five domestic servants. I guess the groom's position went out of style!
Though this recipe isn't dated, Mary died six years after James and Sara married (Sara was James's second wife), so this recipe likely came to her between 1880-1886. It's interesting that it's sugarless- which would make it perfect for times when sugar was scarce!
Squash Pie Recipe:
To start with, I cut this recipe in half! Nobody needs a ton of squash pie if it turns out inedible! I used two bags of frozen butternut squash, cooked in the microwave for simplicity. The microwaved squash was incredibly moist, so, when adding my liquids, I omitted the cream and just used milk.
Now, the recipe says, "Beat together, put it warm in the paste-" which I interpreted as somehow beating it into paste form. BUT- a little research revealed that the "paste" was actually a pie crust! By the time I realized that I was too far in to whip up a pie crust, so I baked it in a pie pan, crust-less.
How Was it?
Well, if I presented this at a family meal instead of a pumpkin pie, there might be a mutiny in my house.
The ginger was the predominant flavor- which I loved. But, I couldn't personally overcome the eggy texture. Without sugar, it simply lacked the "pie" qualities we've become accustomed to today. Nonetheless, it was fun to create, knowing this recipe was cooked over two-hundred years ago!
I think I'll have to give squash pie another chance, and use this other historic recipe from 1912 Lowney's Cookbook, sugar and Nutmeg included!
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.