The Rentzel family lived next door to my childhood home on Anchor Road. If you’ve read my first memoir, Mennonite Daughter, you may remember the shenanigans that happened under their roof. After I left home to explore the wider world, another family moved into the Rentzel house, probably in the early 1990s. Aptly, the Farmer family name reflects the agricultural landscape of Lancaster County in southeastern Pennsylvania. Paul Farmer’s daughter Erica, now married, contacted me via Facebook messenger in early November 2022, inquiring about my mother’s “famous” pumpkin pie recipe. She must have sampled its goodness when my mother delivered a pie to their home, probably just before Thanksgiving.
At first, I told her I didn’t have it, but then I checked in a decades’ old recipe file and found the crumpled-up pie recipe which I’ve included here.
I recognized my own handwriting, but there is no acknowledgement that the recipe is Mom’s. However, it has all the hallmarks of a “Mom” recipe with plenty of sugar and butter. I also have a dim memory of her cracking eggs when she made pumpkin pie. This scrap of paper is an antique, probably over fifty years old. This is how it looks now!
When I sent Erica an image of this battered recipe, she immediately responded: “That’s it! It was very custardy with the eggs added.”
As you can see, the recipe in handwritten (my own handwriting) not dated, but gives evidence of hard use: crumpled and imprinted with the outline of a bowl, maybe tinctured with coffee stains. It could win a prize for Most Worn-out Family Recipe.
I have typed out the recipe here legibly in case you may want to use it for your own Thanksgiving feast. You may notice, Mother didn’t include directions for a pie crust.
Mother Ruth Longenecker’s Pumpkin Pie
1 1/2 cups mashed pumpkin
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs beaten
1 Tbsp. butter
Combine ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Pour into pie pan. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) about one hour and fifteen minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream. If desired, 1/2 cup raisins may be added to pie filling.
My Pie Baking
Want more recipes with stories?
Here’s the link. You’ll find three of my stories included!
Do you have any crumpled recipes you treasure from days of yore?
Will pumpkin pie be on your menu this season?
Good morning, Marian! I love looking at old recipes.
I have some of the old cookbooks we had in the house when I was growing up, and a few old handwritten recipes without real measurements.
I think my pumpkin pie has more spices, and I add a drop of vanilla, which a food scholar friend once mentioned she does. I’ll probably make that, and our daughter will make a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving.
Tried and true is the way to go for Thanksgiving, especially if you can rely of old family recipes. I believe vanilla would add another layer of flavor to the pumpkin, not a bad idea. Pumpkin cheesecake sounds quite filling but so tasty with coffee. Thanks again for getting our conversation started here, Merril!
You’re welcome, Marian!
What a treasure a recipe like that is. For you, Thanksgiving is still coming. For us in Canada, it is past, so I have consumed pumpkin pie already several times. My only other comment: Raisins? In pumpkin pie? I’ve never heard of such a thing!
Canadians are smart to celebrate Thanksgiving in October further away from Christmas. However, I believe ours is a holiday based on the colonial Pilgrim’s 1621 harvest meal.
Obviously, I’ve not made this pumpkin pie recipe before now, so I too was taken aback with the idea of raisins in pumpkin pie. It would probably taste okay, but why bother? On the other hand, I do have some pumpkin filling leftover, so I may just try raisins with that, Arlene! 😀
I’d be interested to hear what you think of a raisin pumpkin pie. If you are feeling experimental…
Wow, Marian! Now that is a treasured recipe! I have some dog-eared recipes somewhere. Not sure how old they are. The pie looks yummy! Since my family carved so many pumpkins on Halloween, someone considered making a pie. But Thanksgiving will feature sweet potato pie most likely. My sister-in-law makes one and her mother usually makes a couple. My friend Erika, with whose family I have spent Thanksgiving, has a pumpkin pie and an apple pie sometimes.
One thing I learned making this pie, that Hallowe’en pumpkins don’t make very good pies. Apparently, the smaller ones in the produce section of the grocery store are sweeter. I’ve heard good reports on sweet potato pie, which may be easier to handle because there’s no rind to contend with. You have all the makings of a lovely Thanksgiving feast, L. Marie! 😀
I think someone could make a complete book of variations on pumpkin pie, right? Most folks just buy the $5.99 pies at Costco now … which are ok, but don’t hold the memories of mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers. I’m making a gluten free pumpkin pie especially with my 9 year old gluten intolerant grandson in mind. (He’s not intolerant, by the way, a great loving oldest brother who yes, tussles with his littler brothers.) I will give one piece of motherly advice here on baking the pie: I’m surprised your recipe says 425 degrees for over an hour. I always do 10 or 15 minutes only at the high temperature, and then lower it to 350 or so for the other 45 minutes of baking time, to avoid a burned crust. I also use a pie crust saver metal round to save the crust. My tricks. Have a thankful holiday!
We have had Costco pies some Thanksgivings, but I wanted this to be homemade even though it won’t last until next Thursday. To preserve my mother’s reputation: I believe she did turn down the oven, and I do remember her lining the crust with aluminum foil. My filling turned out perfectly at 425 degrees, but as you can see the crust got too brown.
What a great idea to make a pie with your grandson. He’ll feel special and not odd because of his dietary needs. Yes, gratitude all around here, Melodie! 😀
I woke up this morning thinking about pumpkin pie, so this post is like kismet. The recipe looks delightfully basic which I find is a good thing when it comes to baking pies. Thanks for sharing it here.
Ally, you may want to check out my “chat” with Melodie above. She has some helpful suggestions for adjusting the oven temperature–and lining the crust to avoid getting overdone. Glad to furnish a bit of serendipity here! 😀
I just read Melodie’s advice. I appreciate what she’s saying and will keep it in mind. Like you we used aluminum foil around the edges. No fancy baking doodads in my family growing up!
That pie looks delicious, Marian. No pie for us and probably not even a Thanksgiving. No oven in our Airbnbs, no pumpkins in the stores, and with temperatures in the upper eighties and humidity levels as well, there is no desire for pie or heated kitchens here in Colombia anyway.
I remember you have Bellas’s oven to look forward to in case you get a hankering for making pie. But with the temps and humidity as you describe, you probably won’t want to. You are entering a whole new world, adventures awaiting. I look forward to hearing more, Liesbet! 😀
Thank you Marian. What a gift! I have recipes that are worn too, and a book with handwritten special recipes in the handwriting of special women in my life. The book is as precious as the memories. I started a book for Eldest Son when he moved out with his favs in my handwriting. He loves pumpkin pie so this recipe is on my Christmas to-do list now!! ❤️
You have a treasury of delectable treats in your recipe boxes, I’m sure. And passing them on to the next generation creates a legacy. Do check my conversation with Melodie above, so you don’t scorch the pie crust as I did. Jenn! 😀
Your Mother’s pumpkin pie recipe is very similar to my Nana Martin’s recipe. The primary difference, other than some minor differences in quantity of additives, is that your Mom used nutmeg and my Nana used pumpkin pie spice. I just cooked and puréed the neck pumpkin yesterday…got eight cups of pumpkin, so enough for four pies. I’ll bring some along to Florida for holiday baking there.
I can picture you whistling merrily away in that beautiful chef’s kitchen of yours. You Mom probably knew you turned into quite a cook and baker, but I wonder if your Nana Bertha knew. I have both spices in my cabinet but deferred to nutmeg because that’s what was on Mother’s recipe. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Faythe; we hope to meet up with you all again in Florida! 😀
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Cliff. We’ll look forward to seeing you both, hopefully sometime this winter.
Yummy! Thanksgiving is coming which was always my favorite holiday where we had apple pie and pumpkin pie at Grandma’s house along with plenty of whipped cream from their own cow. Two friends are coming for Thanksgiving and will stay a few nights. My local son will join us for a meal. We haven’t worked out the menu, but I assume it will include something with pumpkin or winter squash. Whatever we do, it will be delicious. Have a joyful Thanksgiving.
Whipped cream directly from a cow–wow! Maybe you didn’t know then what a treat it was, but I’m sure you do now. I’m glad you can share bounty around your table with friends and your son. Great, Elaine! 😀
On the menu but not by choice! I hate pumpkin everything and don’t understand the current craze! That being said, I’ve been making these pies for almost 30 years for my grandchildren with crook neck squash that I prepare from scratch. I have announced that the last 2 pies ever will be presented at Christmas. It is a lot of work preparing the squash. The G-kids recently discovered that my pies were not really pumpkin pies but squash pies! LOL. So, we are heading to N-ville for turkey day but there will be no turkey. Italian for the CA people! And guess what? The grandson has requested pumpkin pie! Italian and pumpkin pie-weird! So-I wonder if he will figure out that the pumpkin will be from a can? I’m not telling!
I enjoy your sense of humor, Carol! Yes, I’ve heard that squash makes better “pumpkin” pies than the real thing. And I will grant you this: Pie making is a lot of work. Using a can makes sense and tastes about the same. . . but without the nostalgia perhaps.
You’ll have a rollicking wonderful day. Thanks so much for checking in with a comment today. 😀
I do have a box of crumpled up recipes from my mom, Marian! Just the other day I was looking through it to find her recipe for jam cookies which my sister wanted to tackle for this Christmas. All recipes show they are well used just like your mom’s with lots of stains! My sister made those cookies with the help of her twin daughters but she said “never again, too much work!” We marvel at the work my mother produced! She sent those cookies by mail to the children and grandchildren living further away! Did we appreciate them enough? We just ate them!!
Yes, these delectable treats don’t appear on the table without a lot of work. I marvel at the time and energy it took for my mother to make her pies and also chocolate-covered candies at Easter-time. My mother sent cookies by mail when I was in college, I’m sure. And when I read Aunt Ruthie’s diary, she mentioned more than once getting fried chicken in the mail, obviously during the winter months and probably wrapped tight in waxed paper and plenty of newspaper–ha!
I know you’ve celebrated Thanksgiving already in Manitoba, but here’s to good eating any day of the week! 😀
I love these old recipes. What I find is there is always something missing, something the older generation took for granted and thought everyone knew! For instance, I would have thought this was a crustless pie and would have put the ingredients directly into an empty pie pan. I’m sure it would have still tasted great! Have a wonderful thanksgiving!
Yes, I knew Mom probably made her own crust but I supplied my own from the frozen food section. Thanks for the good wishes, Darlene! 😀
Wow, does that last photo look AMAZING! I love how a buried treasure of a recipe was found again because the daughter of an old neighbor remembered how delicious it was; that’s a great story Marian! Yes, my mother-in-law was very sweet in writing out many recipes for me over 30 years ago. Our family loves her “Ritz Potatoes” in particular. And this may sound funny, but I had no cooking experience when I married and I treasure her vanilla and chocolate frosting recipes. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Marian. 🙂
Yes, I agree the inspiration for this post is a great story, and it’s also timely and true. I’m a member of a Facebook group “Growing Up in Elizabethtown,” and I think Erica found me there. Thanks, Melanie, for sharing your sweet bits here, including those treasured frosting recipes. 😀
I have a whole crumpled and stained cookbook from the ’50s! The pumpkin pie recipe I use is much heavier on the spices than the one you shared. (My mother did not want “anemic” pumpkin pie.)
Your comment made me smile. Now I wonder what else besides cinnamon and nutmeg your mother put into her pie. Even with fewer spices my pie didn’t look anemic because it was a bit overdone, as you can tell, Liz 😀
Cloves, allspice, and ginger!
Those make sense. Thanks, Liz!
Those spices Liz mentions are spices I use in baking peppernut cookies, a Christmas staple at our house!
I love finding old recipes, especially if they are in handwriting I have never seen. My Grandma Hess kept a notebook of recipes, which I described in this blog post almost ten years ago. https://shirleyshowalter.com/a-book-contract-a-dilemma-and-an-idea/
Stuart is the pumpkin pie baker at our house. Our grandchildren expect to see his pies at our holiday meals. Blessings to you and yours.
Thank you, Shirley, for directing me to a blog post published before we were friends. My mother had several cookbooks, though in later years she cooked and baked “by heart.” Grandma Longenecker used cookbooks close to the vintage of your Grandma Hess. And I seem to remember my grandma’s cookbooks dusted with flour. Whether they were or not, that’s how they remain in my memory. I started a digital recipe book, but it doesn’t have nearly the appeal of the ones I remember from childhood. 😀
There’s something magical about looking at a piece of paper that has writing on it from long ago. I will sometimes come across something I wrote in high school or college. I also recognize my handwriting, but notice subtle differences from then until now.
Yes, Pete. I notice my handwriting is a little looser and maybe larger now than “back in the day.” For this snippet, I think the magical thing was not just the handwriting but the fact I wrote Mom’s recipe and probably got some of the facts wrong, especially time in oven–ha! 😀
As a faithful taster when Marian cooks or bakes, the pumpkin pie was delicious! In reference to her blackened edge of the piecrust I would just say the pie had a special patina around the edge.
My Mom was a great cook and baker. When I grew up her pumpkin pie was a sweet potato pie, also very yummy.
I always learn new things when Marian’s blog followers comment. I thought that cream came from the grocery store, not a cow!
Thanks for spicing up this column with your own brand of humor, which never turns sour, like cow’s milk!
Hi Marian, this is a splendid pie recipe. You mom probably assumed everyone has their own pie crust recipe. I always use my own when I make a pie. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Do you cook the pumpkin before adding all the ingredients to it Marian? I would think so because it says mashed. It sounds easy and delicious – I’d probably add a thing or 2 – unsure what, maybe vanilla, dash clove. And serve with the thickest cream on the planet. Blessed Thanksgiving to you and family. My sister has all our mother’s recipes.
Hi, Susan! Liz, in a comment above, mentions adding more spices: Cloves, allspice, and ginger. Thick cream sounds appealing too. I’m glad you know where to find your mother’s treasured recipes. Maybe someone else can do the baking, unless you enjoy it too! 😀
Funnily enough I saw my sister today and in her kitchen was a very old book containing inter alia our mother’s recipes –
Serendipitous, I’d say!
You are welcome, Robbie. You are kind to comment here.
I have been thinking of you a lot lately and that includes prayers for your son’s return to good health. ((( )))
My recipe box looks so much like yours. And I LOVE it. Sometimes, yes, I cheat and just google a recipe (like easy beef stroganoff), but most times I pick a card from my recipe box – recipes from my mom, from college friends, from “new” friends who have been around for over 20 years. 😉 Your mom’s pumpkin recipe is much like mine, and my pumpkin pie always turns out yummy. Yes, we’ll have it for Thanksgiving, but my daughter’s MIL also brings three pies, including a chocolate pudding pie and a chocolate chip pie. Looooonggg walk after the meal. 🙂 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
I’m glad others have a muddled mess of recipes. My most organized group of recipes is digital, but not nearly as fun to make. It sounds as though you’ll have a lively bunch for Thanksgiving and a hearty meal. Just reading about the pies has made me gain 5 pounds. Yes, a long, long walk is in order too! 😀
Amazing that you have found and kept so much family nostalgia. Love the crumpled paper. My grandmother used to write recipes on scraps just like that. My sister kept them as she recreates them. Me, I’ve never been much of a baker, but my cooking is divine. 🙂 x
Debby, I’m not surprised you admit to excellent cooking. Many wonderful writers also shine in the kitchen. Each activity “itches” a different side of our creative nature, I guess. Thanks for checking in this evening! 😀
Hi Marian – thanks for sharing this recipe. Looks delicious! I love the handwritten recipes – I have a big file of them. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving 🙂
Yes, handwritten recipes carry nostalgia–and also a bit of the DNA of the cook, I suppose. Thanks for adding to our conversation here, Barbara, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too! 😀
How amazing is that ! And you will not believe this Marian only last week I suddenly had a fancy for some bread pudding , something my lovely , Dad used to make ,usually using stale left over bread . I searched the Internet ( as we do even though we have a kitchen full of cookery books 😳) but couldn’t find one remotely like his however I chose one and low and behold it was dreadful .🤭
A day or two after I told my sister what I’d done she said if only used asked Her , she’d got Dad’s recipe . She sent it in an instant , written in Dad’s own hand on a strip of wallpaper. It brought tears to my eyes , old recipes do that ,
A handwritten recipe in your dad’s script. . . and on a strip of wallpaper. That takes the prize for originality, Cherry. Huge thanks!
Odd things happen when we try to retrieve recipes. This one literally fell into my hands, but baking the pie was a different story. In the end, I burned my arm lifting the pie out of the oven, then some of the filling overflowed and scorched my left forearm. On the good side, the pie tasted delicious even though the crust was a tad overdone. All in the life of a would-be cook–ha! 😀