Mincemeat Hand Pies

 This is not an apology as in “I’m going to eat humble pie.”  This is a blog about pies.  According to, a form of pie was around as early as in the Egyptian Neolithic periods or the New Stone Age period.   The term humble pie comes from medieval times.  The filling between two crusts was minced livers, gizzards, hearts, etc., and considered a peasant’s dish.  Pies similar to the photo above were good for travelers, easy to carry, and nutritious.

When I entered college ages ago, few opportunities were open to women—teaching, nursing, typing, and homemaking, for example.  Of course there were some who entered other fields.  I started out in music, but theory got me, and for one semester I was going to major in Spanish.  I finally chose home economics (I think it is called human science now), because I wanted to be a homemaker.  I received my BS and MRS degrees within a six week period.

In home economics I studied cooking, meal planning, sewing, tailoring, design, nutrition, art, child development, family, microbiology, and chemistry.  I didn’t take education courses because I didn’t want to teach.  Most people can learn how to cook and sew if they are inclined by reading and practice.  I believe my courses made life easier for me although I still had a lot of on-the-job learning to do, which is probably the case for any field.  One thing the courses did was help me understand reasons for doing certain things.  For instance when using corn starch for thickening, it is necessary to cook it until you can no longer smell the cornstarch.

One early cooking flop was a strawberry pie–three ingredients which consisted of strawberries, Eagle Brand milk, and lemon juice.  My pie was so soupy—either I cut the strawberries too small or didn’t put enough lemon juice in.  Another mistake—I made a meat loaf for us and some friends, which was way too small for four people.  We had a party the first fall we were married.  I decided to have popcorn which I popped ahead.  I kept it in the oven at a low heat—it burned.  Burned popcorn is not a good smell!  My husband has never been a big eater.  When we were first married,  I cut the recipe to 1/4th for a pie.  I used the aluminum individual pot pie pan.


Pumpkin Pie

Now to pies.  Pie crusts are one of my specialties.  Over the years I have used several recipes—onemade with oil instead of shortening, one with egg and vinegar, and ones with varyingamounts of flour, butter or shortening, and water. I have tried several methods of rolling the crusts.  I have used wax paper and recently I bought a pastry cloth and sleeve.  I like a thin crust.  When I do use a bought crust, I roll it thinner.  I like pretty pies with the edges pinched nicely (sometimes they don’t turn out nice).   When I was growing up, Mother brushed the crust with milk before baking to give it a nice color.  My mother-in-law sprinkled sugar on her top crusts.  I use both methods.

Mother made peach cobblers with a cake like topping, but she used pie crust for blackberry cobblers.  I use pie crust for all cobblers.


Peach Cobbler

Sometimes I make pies for special days, besides the traditional holiday pies—a cherry pie for Washington’s birthday, a blueberry pie for our wedding anniversary because we ate huckleberry pie on our honeymoon.  We don’t have huckleberries here in East Texas.


Blueberry Pie

Friends and family have shared recipes with me over the years—fudge pie, buttermilk pie, blueberry banana, lemon pie, my grandmother’s pineapple pie, praline pumpkin pie–all good pies.

One pie recipe  I found several years ago was a French country apple pie recipe in a Jacques Pepin cookbook .  In the last few years, I have seen similar recipes calling this type of pie rustic.  I like a rustic pie because it is small enough for two people.  I usually make apple and we enjoy it warm  with ice cream for dessert and the next day or so enjoy it at breakfast.


French Country  Apple Pie

My husband and I both like mincemeat pies.  I like to buy the condensed mincemeat but it is hard to fine.  I add diced apples, extra raisins, and brandy.  The top photo shows mincemeat hand pies which I have started making instead of a large pie, since not many people like mince pies.  On our trips to England at Christmas time, we have bought some little mincemeat pies, which were very good.  

I hope you have enjoyed reading about humble pies. A lot of people say making a pie is hard.   A simple, good cake can be made in an hour or so.  For a pastry crust pie it does take time, but the results are so good.  If it wasn’t so hot, I think an apple pie would be good!

The road from the highway to our house ended at Lake Charleston.  Our house was the last one before the lake.   We could see the lake from our house.  School was a mile from our house, and we walked to school.  Our closest neighbor was maybe one-eighth mile and the next house was on a hill—which we walked down going to school and walked up coming home.   Houses were closer together the nearer they were to the highway.The schools were located on the same campus on the highway.  I was in the fifth grade when we moved to Charleston.  I learned to play dodge ball—once when I had the ball, someone yelled, “Chunk it!”  I had no idea what that meant.

We four.

I began piano lessons in the sixth grade.  Mrs. Ford was given access to a room on the campus where she taught piano lessons.  I took two lessons a week because I was older.  Don and Philip also took lessons.  Sometimes when I practiced, my kitten Persia sat on my shoulder.  (See blogs Grandma’s Cat Tales and Other Animal Stories, parts 1-4)

Mother wanted us to have some experience of farm life. This was the period when Dad was in Japan or Korea (1950-1958).  Our nearest neighbors had a strawberry farm in the country.  They needed help picking strawberries, so we helped them.  That is hard work!  You either bend over or get on your knees because the plants are close to the ground.  One day I picked 40 quarts—made $4.00!  Another time we experienced cotton picking.  My best friend’s family grew cotton.  So one fall Saturday we picked cotton.  That is also backbreaking work.   You drag a long bag that is on your shoulder.  I was very meticulous and tried to put cotton only—no leaves and other debris—in the bag.  I didn’t pick much but it was clean.

My best friend’s house had no electricity, running water, nor indoor plumbing. (This was 1948-1952.) I spent the night with her frequently.  They had oil lamps, a pot-bellied stove, and an outhouse.  An old Sears Roebuck catalog had its place in the outhouse.  In the winter time the house was very cold at night, but we were warm with a lot of heavy quilts.  I remember waking up to the mixed aromas of oil lamps, bacon, and biscuits.  (For more country living see blog IF IT’S MONDAY, IT’S WASH DAY–IF IT’S SATURDAY, IT’S BATH NIGHT)

We had no television.  Television hadn’t come to that part of Arkansas because of the Ozarks.  Our entertainment was an occasional movie at the local movie house, game nights and radio.  Game night was Friday night, when we played card games:  Old Maid, Authors, Rook and such.  We had Pepsi Cola and peanuts.  My brothers and Dad liked to put their peanuts in their Pepsi bottles—I didn’t.  We listened to Green Hornet, The  Great Gilder sleeve, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Thin Man,  Sam Spade,  Life of Riley, Lone Ranger,  Gene Autry,  Dick Tracy, A Date with Judy,  Blondie,  Amos and Andy,  Jack Benny,  Dragnet,  Archie,  Perry Mason, Red Skelton, The Shadow,  Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy,   Some children’s radio shows were Sgt. Preston, Sky King, Let’s Pretend, and Superman.

Mother and us 4

This was probably taken 1950-1952. Phil is my younger brother, Don the older, and Shirley my younger sister. Three more children came later–Teresa, Pamela, and Michael.

While Dad was in Japan, we began to play with face cards.  When Mother was growing up, face cards were considered to be bad, because gamblers used face cards.  After some thought Mother decided that the cards themselves were not bad if you didn’t gamble, so we learned to play Canasta, Hearts, and other games using face cards.  We had many enjoyable times playing games together.

Even without television or electronic games, we made our own entertainment.   We children played outside together, especially in the summer.  In the backyard we made little roads for toy trucks and cars to travel on.   We also played in the pasture.  I don’t remember, but we probably played cowboys and Indians, army, and such. I don’t recall playing dolls at that time since I was ten plus.  We also played in the loft of the barn.  

One time the three younger ones were playing in the barn, and I decided to burn some trash in the trash barrel in a garden area that was not near the house.  Mother had gone to town to get her hair done.  It was a windy day and some bits of flaming paper were blowing out of the barrel.  I tried to put the little fires out, but they got too big.  I called the fire department.  As mother was driving home, the fire truck passed her.   She began to worry the further the fire truck went.  Fortunately no damage was done and the fire was put out safely.  The younger children didn’t know about the fire until the fire truck arrived.

Although Dad was in the Army, he also preached for small Churches of Christ.  One in Arkansas was at Van Buren, near Fort Smith.  Another was Sallisaw, Oklahoma, also near Fort Smith.  Since we had to drive some distance, we usually were invited to Sunday dinner at church members’ homes.   We had some good home cooking!  Then there were evening services.   When Dad went to Japan, we attended church at Midland Boulevard Church of Christ in Fort Smith.

In 1950 Dad left for Japan and we were to follow shortly.  We had begun our immunizations when the Korean War broke out, so we didn’t get to go to Japan until two years later.   These two years were hard on mother, with four children alone.  She went to work at Fort Chaffee to help ends meet.

In 1952 we received orders to go to Japan.  The Army packed up and stored our household goods.  We left Charleston and went to Wichita Falls to see Mother’s family.  Her sister Cleo went with us to California.  We went by the Royal Gorge in Colorado where another of Mother’s sisters (Beatrice and family) joined us.  We cooked meals outdoors weather permitting.  I remember one supper in the Rockies by a cool stream.  The 1950 Ford went to Japan, also.

My “country living” was pretty much finished in 1952, when we left for Japan.  Dad returned to Fort Chaffee in 1955 so the family returned to our house in Charleston, but  I left for college and in 1959 was married in Paris, Arkansas, near Charleston.


NOTE:  The following is a true story.  The names and some information have been altered to protect the innocent.  (Although if unnamed persons in the following wish to disclose their names to their friends, they are at liberty to do so.)

                The time of this story is April 22, 1970, a beautiful spring day.     The Viet Nam war was raging.   Hippies and flower children were active.  There was political unrest and various demonstrations.   Gasoline was cheap, and large vehicles were plentiful.  Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 explained the harmful use of pesticides on the environment.  This book helped set the stage for the modern environmental movement—the first Earth Day—April 22, 1970—a day to celebrate the protection of the earth’s environment and for responsible stewardship.

                I have a friend who wanted to participate on that first Earth Day.  A bicycle parade was planned from the old high school building to the campus of the university.  My friend took her seven-year-old daughter Marie and a friend’s eight-year-old boy Mike and their bicycles AND her four-year-old daughter Lacey and a wagon to the starting point. 

                The people with bicycles mounted and sped off with walkers joining in.  My friend was soon left behind pulling the wagon, but she continued to the campus.  As she walked she met cyclers returning to the starting point.  She watched for Marie and Mike, but didn’t see them.  She began to feel nervous.  She pulled Lacey in the wagon back to the starting point—still no Marie and Mike. 

                She loaded the wagon and Lacey in the car and started looking for the lost children.  She began to worry—How am I going to tell Mike’s parents that I have lost him and Marie?  And what will my husband say?  She drove slowly down the street to the campus and then slowly around the campus and then again around the campus and back to the starting point, and then repeated the drive through the campus, getting more worried by the minute.  (This was before cell phones.)  No children. Finally, as she exited the campus, she spied the two children with their bikes, and a teen-age girl, Connie, who happened to know Marie.  What a relief!  My friend said Marie was afraid to be left alone for several years after she had been lost.  She doesn’t know how Mike fared after this traumatic event.  The three children have grown up and are successful people.  Marie has said she will never forget the first Earth Day.

A Blank Canvas

A new year—a clean slate, a blank canvas—think of the opportunities!  I wonder what I will do with this new year.  Last year two of my children’s books were published. 

What kind of pet cover



Cool Cats


Since I don’t have anything in the works, I won’t have two books published and probably not even one.  Since I am nearing 80, I am feeling pressure to get things done.  I don’t want this to be a worry– I want to enjoy what I do without pressure, but  . . . .  None of us know when we will be called home, so we should live each day to the fullest and be thankful for another day.

Among the things I need to finish up are about 6 quilt tops.  Two of the tops were Mother’s; one I started a number of years ago, and at least two were started by my mother-in-law.  I’d also like to use up fabrics to make new quilts.  Genealogy—our family histories need to be organized and brick walls climbed.  I want to draw and paint.   I still have some ideas for children’s books.  My sister has asked me to illustrate two children’s book she has written.

There are boxes and closets to sort through and purge, so that my daughters won’t have to do that.   I have some unfinished sewing projects –maybe I will finish one or so this year.   It is amazing how much stuff accumulates.  Last year in September we had a pipe burst under the slab, and two bedrooms, bath and hall were damaged.  I did take advantage of that time to go through things in those rooms and got rid of a lot of stuff.


One trunk load!

Since Bob is an historian and knows the value of “stuff” to researchers, we have saved many things other folks throw away.  We have donated several boxes to the East Texas Research Center of Stephen F. Austin State University.  When Bob did his dissertation at the University of Oklahoma, he used diaries, letters, and other personal information in OU’s archives.

Besides the above possibilities, I want to work on the canvas of  my spiritual life.  I am not going to call these resolutions–I think they will be brush strokes on my blank canvas.  We’ll see what the painting becomes.  Happy New Year and best wishes for your new canvas!


Life gets busy and involved and time goes by—faster than you realize.  That’s what has happened to me.  In March I had carpal tunnel surgery.  In the same time period, our church began to make plans for its 50th anniversary in October.  Since we have been there for forty-eight of those fifty years, I volunteered to be on the committee.  Since my husband is a retired history professor, he was asked to write a brief history.  We have all the directories, so I typed a list of all members (close to 3000 names) from those directories, so the former members could be invited to the celebration.

I was also trying to finish the illustrations for the third book, Cool Cats Carry Canes,which I submitted to the editor at the end of May.  My second book, What Kind of Pet Can I Get?,

What kind of pet cover

had just been published.  My husband asked me to help write parts of history so I began work on that.  My siblings and families had a reunion in June.

So it has been a while since I have written here.  The history was finished, and the 50th anniversary celebration has come and gone.  Old friendships renewed.  Cool Cats Carry Canes

Cool Cats

just came out. It is mid-November and Christmas is around the corner.  Time flies!

It has been a while since I have written.  In March I had carpal tunnel surgery, and recovery has taken some time.  Also, I was working on the illustrations for my third book—an ABC book.  It has been so much fun to work on—both the text and the illustrations.  I worked hard to finish the illustrations and get it to SFA Press  by June 1—made it on May 31.

My second book,  What Kind of Pet Can I Get?,  came out in mid- May.


What kind of pet cover



This is a book about a boy who gets to choose a pet, and once he chooses one, he looks at the problems he might encounter.  I did the illustrations for this one, too.  I am giving away ten copies on Goodreads, July 1-31.

Something I have gotten into this spring  (besides poison ivy)





is zen tangle.  In February I checked out a new book from the library entitled  .   It was a collection of zen tangle drawings by various zen tangle certified artists.   It’s fun to do and I have been busy tangling.






is zen tangle.  In February I checked out a new book from the library entitled  .   It was a collection of zen tangle drawings by various zen tangle certified artists.   It’s fun to do and I have been busy tangling.

The above lets you know what I have been doing.  Hopefully very soon I will continue with  “Country Living.”


 In 1948 we moved from Monroe, Louisiana, where Dad had been an ROTC instructor at what was then Northeast Junior College, to Charleston, Arkansas, where Dad was stationed at Fort Chaffee.  Charleston was a small town.  There was a library, courthouse, hardware store, dime store, frozen locker plant, a movie, elementary school and high school.  I’m sure there were more stores, but I don’t recall what they were.  Our house was a mile from the main drag, Highway 22 which connected Fort Smith to Little Rock, I believe.

In 1948 there were only six in the family—our parents, me (the oldest child), Don, Philip, and Shirley.  I was in the 5th grade.  Shirley was not yet school age.  Dad was an army officer and Mother was a homemaker.  It was nice to come home after school and have Mother there.  That changed when Mother went to work at Fort Chaffee after Dad left for Japan in 1950.   I hated coming home to a dark cold house, but we managed.  A divided income made it necessary for Mother to help make ends meet, although I don’t think we kids knew about any difficulties.

Although we were just a mile from town, we lived like we were in the country.  We were the last house before the entrance to Lake Charleston.  Our house looked like a farm house— wooden, painted white, porches on all sides.  Six pecan trees were on the north side.  Lilac bushes, roses, wisteria, and honeysuckle smelled heavenly in the spring time.  A chinaberry tree and a well were near the house in the back on the south, and a black walnut tree was on the east side.  To the east of the house was a large garden area and pastures.  Behind the house on the south were a little utility house, a barn, an outhouse, a chicken house, and more pasture.

The following photographs were made after we came back from Japan, but they will show where we lived.


The above photo is Don and Teresa in front of  a little shed south of the house.  In the background the chicken house and pasture are visible.  The outhouse was behind the little shed.  Notice rock bench on left.


This photo shows the back of the house and one of the porches.  Pictured is our family:   Philip, Teresa, my father Roland, my mother Margaret, Don (behind), me, and Shirley.


The above photo shows Philip on the east side of the house, by one of the porches.  The black walnut tree is on the left of the photo.  The little shed is visible behind the house.

When we moved there, Dad and Mother got involved in country living in a big way.  Both of my parents had grown up on farms, so they knew what to do.  We had chickens, a cow, and a big garden.    A cat and kitten came with the house (see blog about cats).   We even had access to a horse “Old Bill” for a while.  Dad let a man use our pasture for his horse.  We got to ride “Old Bill” a few times.

The garden included peanuts, potatoes, corn, cucumbers, okra, beans, and tomatoes.  With such a large garden, there was lots of food to “put up.”  My sister Shirley wanted to plant meat!  Mother canned tomatoes, peaches, pickled peaches, watermelon pickles, pear honey, blackberries, jellies, preserves and cucumber pickles.  We also prepared a lot of vegetables for the frozen food locker in town.

I helped Mother often in “putting up” the food—that’s where I learned about food preservation which helped me in later life.  One method of preservation was the pressure cooker.  Foods with less acid required this type.  The other method is hot water bath.  The jars of more acidic food were placed in a kettle that had a rack for the jars.  The jars were covered with water and heated for a certain length of time. The jams and jellies required sugar and Sure Gel.  The jars were sealed with a layer of paraffin.  Food for the locker had to be blanched (put in hot water for a short time and then cooled with ice).  The food was then packed in freezer containers.

We picked blackberries in the pasture in the spring.   I remember the good food from the garden—lot of it was fried.  For meat, we had beef from the locker plant and our chickens.  I learned how to pluck and cut up a chicken.  I watched Mother wring chickens’ necks, but I never got to do that (didn’t want to!).

To be continued.