Next week, my husband and I will travel to my hometown of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, (not Sandusky) to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. This year’s gathering will be in a new location. My sisters have recently moved into a lovely new home and have offered to set the table for all sixteen of us.
Like all families and family traditions, ours have changed during my lifetime. Life’s circumstances bring in new faces and others are no longer with us. The place where we gather changes, too. The menu, however, remains almost constant so that each person’s favorite is included. The turkey may be prepared by a new method, and we may or may not have a green salad or Grandma’s Frozen Fruit Salad. We have to have both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as stuffing and rolls. When it comes to dessert, it’s OK to add delicacies, but NEVER to take away Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip or Mincemeat Pie.
I confessed in The Joy of Chocolate Pie and Friendship that I rarely make pie except for baking pumpkin pie for family holiday celebrations. In recent years, I have become the designated deliverer of pies on the fourth Thursday of November. This stems from the fact that I live several hours away from home and can’t make and transport hot dishes easily. So, pies it is. I’m always reminded to make sure I bring a Mincemeat Pie (pumpkin is assumed).
I suspect that our family is in a small minority in America that even knows what Mincemeat Pie is, let alone looks forward to indulging in it on Thanksgiving. During my lifetime, I’ve only celebrated a handful of Thanksgiving Days without the option of Mincemeat Pie. One was in 2011, while my husband was hospitalized. The others took place while we were separated from family in the far away state of North Dakota.
I asked my mom yesterday about how this dessert tradition began. She remembers finishing Thanksgiving meals with Mincemeat Pie as a child visiting her grandmother, as do I. To her recollection, no one in the family ever made mincemeat from scratch. History about mincemeat from the None Such website confirms that likelihood: “Ready-to-use mincemeat, first offered in wooden buckets and crates, is one of the oldest American convenience foods. Mincemeat has been steadily marketed in the U.S. for more than 100 years.”
I don’t think we’ve used the Brandy and Rum type…
So, what is mincemeat? Again from the folks at None Such: ” Mincemeat is a combination of apples, raisins and citrus peel, blended with sugar and spices to make a delicious cooking and baking ingredient. Mincemeat is derived from old English recipes, and today remains one of the most popular holiday foods in England. The recorded history of mincemeat can be traced to the year 1413, when it was served at the coronation of Henry V of England. In the late 1600’s, mincemeat was served as a meat pie flavored with fruit and spices. These pies, with more fruits and spices and less meat, were served as desserts when mincemeat was brought to Colonial America.” According to Wikipedia, “In the mid to late eighteenth century, mincemeat in Europe had become associated with old fashioned, rural, or homely foods.” While the pie remains a Christmas tradition England, in the northeast United States it is often a part of the Thanksgiving meal.
The first time I was required to bring a Mincemeat Pie to our gathering, I asked Mom how to make it, thinking it might be complicated. Her instructions were to pour a jar of mincemeat into a pie crust and bake it. I had success on the first attempt! The pie was delicious, however, I will admit that I’ve found it difficult to eat a whole slice after consuming my plateful of turkey and carbs. The richness of the somewhat heavy pie has given me a stomach ache on occasion. So, in 2015, I checked on Allrecipes.com for a different recipe. I was a little nervous to take my first Apple Mincemeat Pie to dinner and held my breath as loved ones tasted it. We all agreed that it was delicious. I’m not sure that it is preferred by the others, but I do like both the preparation and flavor of the pie. You can find the recipe HERE.
My pies from November 2015
I’ve purchased my jar of mincemeat and my apples and will be baking in a few days. This year I was delighted to see my grocery store also carry the condensed mincemeat again. I’ve used it in a delicious Mincemeat Cookies recipe and look forward to baking a batch, maybe for Christmas. If you like raisin cookies, you may want to print out the recipe I use and give them a try!