Genealogy: From the Kitchen

See update at bottom of post: 22 November 2016

When I was a girl, my grandma made this chunky applesauce that I really liked. I thought, “When I grow up, I will make chunky applesauce, too, and not that thin, grocery store stuff.” Grandma didn’t have a recipe written down, but the memory of the texture and taste have stayed with me. I now make chunky applesauce and my family loves it. My daughter will probably make it when she has her own home.

Genealogists are sometimes criticized for merely collecting names and dates and not concerning themselves about the life stories of their ancestors. One way that you can learn about your relatives and pass that knowledge down is by preserving the recipes and dishes that were served in their homes.

Today, as a Thanksgiving gift to Archiventure readers, I share with you three delicious family recipes. When conducting oral history interviews, make sure you ask about what your family members ate and cooked.

EmeliaGillis1914My Dad brought the tradition of making homemade doughnuts to our family, a tradition he got from his mother, Emelia Carrier. We always make doughnuts and homemade soup before heading out to go Trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Plain Doughnuts

1 c sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 c sour milk
1 T melted shortening
1 t salt
1 t baking soda (put in sour milk)
1 t baking powder
1 t nutmeg
3 c bread flour

Mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Form a soft dough by adding the flour mixture and knead just until combined.

Roll out dough, cut doughnuts, and fry (she used pure lard).

GrandmaMy maternal grandmother, Thelma Mansfield, made wonderful quick breads. The one I still make, today, comes from her recipe for pumpkin bread. Instead of chopped nuts, I add miniature chocolate chips. Sorry, Grandma!

Pumpkin Bread

2 2/3 c sugar
2/3 c shortening
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 c water 2 c pumpkin puree
3 1/3 c sifted flour
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs, pumpkin, and water. Beat well. Add sifted flour and dry ingredients. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Bake at 350 deg for 75 minutes. Watch carefully for the last 15 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.

missionEEMy husband’s mother, Elaine Whatcott, is known for her pies. She initiated the tradition of making extra pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas so that each guest can take enough pie home with them to have pie for breakfast! This pumpkin pie is dark brown and very spicy. Pale, orange pies taste funny to me, now.

Pumpkin Pie

2 c canned pumpkin
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar

1 t ground cloves
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
1/4 c pastry flour
1 t salt
½ c milk
3 eggs

Sift and blend sugar, spices, flour and salt.  Add pumpkin and whisk until smooth.  Add beaten eggs.  Add milk.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Protect crust with a rim of foil about halfway through baking time.




Update: At the urging of a friend, I paid attention to and wrote down what I did while making two batches of applesauce.


Peel, core, and slice enough apples to fill two (5-6 qt) Dutch oven pots to the brim!

Add 1/2 c water; 1/4 c sugar; 1 t cinnamon to each pot.

Cook with lid on, stirring every 20 minutes or so at medium heat. Turn down to medium low when apples start to soften. The last stirring involves mashing down apples with a potato masher. Mixture will cook down almost by half. At this point, decide if you need to add more water. Possibly 3-5 T. I usually do.

If you peel core and slice by hand, this fills 2 quart jars and 5 pint jars. Process 25 minutes.

If you use an apple corer peeler slicer, this will fill 4 quart jars and 3 pint jars because the slices are more uniform and will pack down in the pot more. Process 30 minutes.

I am very careful about getting all of the core out, I am not fastidious about getting every last bit of peel off.


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