Make Mine Mincemeat

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 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!

Mincemeat Cookie Recipe



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Where I Come From

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I will be going “home” this week, back to where I’m from.  Back to where my mom, sisters, and brother live.  Back to Upper Sandusky.

So far today, a good friend and my chiropractor have asked me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving and I’ve replied “going to my mom’s” ( thinking “here we go again.”)   “Where does she live?”  “Upper Sandusky”, I replied, adding “It’s not Sandusky, which is up by the lake.”  Each then mentioned Cedar Point or something about a day spent at Lake Erie.  I just smiled.

Sometimes when this happens, I attempt to share an Ohio geography lesson.  I say something like, “Upper Sandusky is in Wyandot County.  It’s near Findlay.  It’s between Columbus and Toledo.”  If their eyes glaze over, I stop.  But if they seem interested, I explain that my hometown is named UPPER Sandusky because it is located on the upper part, or headwaters, of the Sandusky river which flows north to Sandusky and into Lake Erie .  On the rare occasion that the person is still following me, I reveal that there is also a town of LITTLE Sandusky, but have never explained that the Little Sandusky River is a small tributary of the Sandusky River.  Confused yet?


Technically, I’m not from Upper Sandusky, but from “out in the country” of Wyandot County.  I grew up with the mailing address Rural Route 1, Upper Sandusky, Ohio.  Our mailman didn’t need a house number to find us.  Our mailbox was located beside the spirea bush at the end of our driveway.  We lived among a few people in a little neighborhood called Lawrenceville.  Don’t look it up, or you’ll be in the wrong part of the state again.

My two younger sisters, little brother, and I moved with Mom into the county seat when I was 16.  Upper Sandusky’s seven square miles are home to about 6,500 people.   Anyone from outside the area that knows where “Upper” is may have been through at Christmastime to see the light display at Harrison Smith Park.  Or, they may be a fan of “The Shawshank Redemption” which was partly filmed  in my hometown.  A fellow who lives down the street from me knows Upper Sandusky because of Thiel’s Wheels motorcycle shop.


Wyandot County is rich, not only in farmland, but in early Ohio history, and its county seat displays markers of events dating back to the late 18th century.  Here are five of the sites that every fourth grader in the school system likely still visits.

  • the seat of government for the Wyandotte Indian Nation, the last organized band of Indians to leave Ohio. They moved to a reservation in Kansas in 1842.
  • Battle Island Monument where Colonel William Crawford  fought a losing battle with the combined Indian and British forces in 1782.
  • The Wyandotte Mission Church, found in the Old Mission Cemetery  among  Indian graves.  The first Christian Mission for the Indians was established in 1816 by John Stewart, the father of Methodist Episcopal Missions.
  • monument honoring Chiefe Tarhe, the first Indian Chief to sign the Treaty of Greenville establishing the Indian territorial boundaries.
  • The Old Indian Mill which was built by the government in 1820 for the Wyandotte Indians

old-misson-church Old Mission Church.  Dear family members were buried in this cemetery.

Upper Sandusky is a pretty cool place to come from!  And its a great place to go home to, not so much because of the geography or history of the city, but because that’s where Mom lives.

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