Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. I feel like it’s the overlooked middle child between Halloween and Christmas. Since I love Thanksgiving the most, I wanted to give it its time in the sun in my own way. I miss the people so much that are associated with my Thanksgiving Day memories. This only makes me more nostalgic as I create new holiday traditions.
For me, Thanksgiving memories are tops. They revolve around family, food, and gratitude. Three of my favorite things. My Papaw Charlie always led a different prayer than his standard, and we all observed. My Mamaw Betty’s homemade rolls would triumph over even her stuffing. And the grand prize was, of course, her pecan pies, which were always filled with pecans from her own trees.
Here’s a picture of the incomparable Betty T, her pecans, and her adoring grandaughter (me) back in 2014.
It wasn’t just about the food, though. It was the traditions themselves. I come from a small family, so our customs are pretty tight knit. After the annual family feast, washing dishes, and dividing leftovers, the tradition was going out to help pick up pecans. Some years were leaner than others, if the squirrels beat us to them, but I loved racing around as a kid in the leaves, hunting, trying to gather more than my cousins. And then the older I got, it became more about helping Mamaw and Papaw, sharing that time all of us spent gathering, talking, walking off the meal we had just enjoyed. Pecans are in our blood.
Here’s the crop I gathered from 2012.
Related Side stories. I’ll never forget the year at Christmas after my grandfather had started to lose his eyesight. My family and my Uncle’s side each bought him one of those metal pecan picker-upper doohickeys, my grandmother had as well. It was hilarious him being presented all three at once on Christmas Day. And, to be honest, one of the main reasons I really wanted the house my husband and I now have is because of the mature pecan trees in our backyard. And I now also own two (vintage) metal pecan picker upper doohickeys. Nostalgia always wins with me.
What better way to celebrate this week’s holiday than with a vintage recipe with a twist. You’ve got plenty of time to grab the ingredients, if you don’t already have them in your pantry.
Check out the recipe here for all the particulars.
This is not just your traditional pecan pie, y’all. It’s got cheesecake in it!! My beloved grandmother Betty would be skeptically observing me right now, eyebrow raised, but open to the interpretation.
I found this gem in a 1964 Pillsbury Bake Off Cookbook. Mystery Pecan Pie. And funny enough, the lady who submitted this recipe back in the day was from Little Rock, Arkansas! We're bringing it back home! This guy contains the very last of the pecans I had from my Mamaw’s trees. They’ve been in my freezer patiently waiting, but it finally feels like the right time to cash them in. Now, I’m not a baker, but it sounded so easy, I thought I’d give it a go. In the words of my favorite PBS Show, The Great British Bake Off, Ready, Set, Bake!
The fun part of this recipe is the layers reverse. First the cheesecake portion.
Then the pecans.
Then the all mighty Karo Syrup concoction.
Bake for 35 minutes. Then share with friends. I was lucky to have one of our workers - and one of my favorite people- Elga and her husband, Michael, join us for a test run. After a hearty meal of turkey chili, we tested and tasted.
I have to say, this vintage recipe stands the test of time. Two thumbs way up from the four of us. It worked deliciously well and was super easy. Unlike the time Mamaw first tried an avocado at the age of 90 and politely reacted with, “I could do without”, I think this is one spin off she would applaud and even have another bite.
Happy Thanksgiving! Make pie! Make memories! Make haste and test this vintage recipe!