Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins, and Squash … Oh My!

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  So for all of you hosts and hostesses out there, I thought I’d share a menu to make your worries seem a little less overwhelming.  Perhaps you, like me, are already stressing about the big day, planning and shopping and worrying about how to keep people out of the kitchen as you prepare dish upon dish. If so, take solace in the fact that you are not preparing a Thanksgiving dinner at the White House.  Below is a menu taken from The White House Cook Book: Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-Giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts Worth Knowing, Etc., Etc.  This cyclopedia, compiled by Mrs. F.L. Gillette and Hugo Ziemann, Steward of the White House, was published in 1887 (although the excerpts in this post are taken from a 2003 reprint of the original).  As you can see, Thanksgiving at the White House was (and I’m sure still is) quite the feast.

Since I am not brave enough to take on the challenge of recreating a complete White House Thanksgiving this year, I will only tackle one dish.  If anyone out there is brave enough, or would like to see the recipe for a dish featured on this menu, let me know and I’ll post the recipe. 

This time around, I’ll be doing dessert.  I will have a traditional, modern pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving (you know, one can of pumpkin, some eggs, Pillsbury crust…) but will feature alongside this pie a pie from the White House Cook Book.  Pumpkin pie is featured on the Thanksgiving menu, but in looking up the recipe, I saw there are also some very tempting recipes for squash pie and sweet potato pie as well.  Since they are all basically in the same family it remains to be seen which one I’ll make, but either one will pair well with the modern pumpkin pie and serve as a nice comparison.

To the left are recipes for both the pumpkin and squash pies.  The sweet potato pie recipe is the same as the squash pie, and only swaps title ingredients.  Although the recipes are not very complicated and do not deviate greatly from a modern recipe, it will be interesting to see what a difference fresh pumpkin/squash/sweet potato makes compared to the canned variety.  Also, having control over the seasonings may spice things up as well.  I’ll be sure to report back on the results, but in the meantime, happy Thanksgiving preparations to you all!

Published by

Tracey Kry

Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Assistant Reference Librarian, American Antiquarian Society

One thought on “Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins, and Squash … Oh My!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *