The pecan pie recipe has been handed down from generation to generation in the Brown family, and their roots go back to at least the early 1700s in Maryland, around Harbaugh Valley in the Sabillasville and Thurmont area. I suspect the recipe goes back that far, with modern modifications (yes, Karo syrup is one ingredient, which I believe was created around 1900 or so). I am willing to bet, though, that the recipe was originally made with maple syrup, or some kind of cane sugar syrup. I will have to try that kind one of these years. The Karo syrup version that I have was Grandma Brown's recipe, and her mother's recipe before that. I wonder if Grandma Brown's grandmother made the pecan pie with maple syrup or cane sugar syrup? I understand there are recipes where it's just sugar and eggs, too.
The pumpkin pie filling recipe is from a Quaker cookbook given to me by a friend, Genny, for my birthday, the year I was married. It's called "Quaker Flavors" and was put together by the Willistown Friends Meeting, Goshen Road, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It's well-worn and has spots on it from accidentally spilling things on it, as it is full of hearty and "down-home" recipes that can easily be favorites for any American family. I have modified the pumpkin pie recipe a bit, because I use the puree from the cooked Halloween pumpkins we put out each year (don't worry--the pumpkins were well washed and sanitary before I cut them up and cooked them). Yes, it's totally from scratch. Because the pumpkin puree tends to be more liquid than paste, I put nonfat dry milk in it so that it isn't runny and cooks well. One of these days I will experiment with different ways of cooking the pumpkin so that it's more of a paste than a puree.
I haven't modified the pecan pie recipe at all, as it's something that's been handed down, and it's tried and true. Why mess with perfection? However, the pumpkin pie recipe has been through more than a few modifications, because of making it from pumpkins instead of puree in a can. One of these days, I'm going to write down the process and the recipe.
When I thought about how these recipes came to be, I used to wonder whether I would be able to pass them down to younger folk in my family. I am happy to say that my son has turned out to be a very good cook, so he is capable of doing it, but when he became engaged to Amy, I found out she makes perfect pie crusts. So, when the time comes, I will be able to pass down these recipes to Derek and Amy, and know that the Brown and Harbaugh recipes will continue to their generation. There are other recipes I have had from my mother-in-law June (chicken pot pie, wilted lettuce salad, cole slaw), that I will have to bring out.
June has dementia now, unfortunately, and no longer cooks or bakes. I am sure there are recipes that she has that I haven't heard of or experienced. I think tonight, when we go to the elder Harbaughs' house tonight, I will ask John senior if I can look over her recipes, and perhaps take them home. It would be sad if those treasured recipes were lost. I'll like to try them out, and I'm sure that Derek and Amy would like to try them out as well, since they like cooking together.
There is a feeling of goodness and abundance in having old family recipes to cook and pass on from one generation to another. It is a loving tradition, I think, one that has so much love and care and nurturing in it.
May you all have such traditions, old as well as creating new ones, that will tell generations hence that there was care and nurturing here, passed down in love.