Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Church Cookbooks of New York, Part 4: Transparent Pie ("Chappaqua Cookbook" The Chappaqua Congregational Church, 1941)


Part 2:  "Hot Damn," "Sharing Our Best" - Chemung ARC, Elmira, 1996
Part 2.5: Steamed Chickent "From Ridgewood Kitchens," West Side Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood, NJ, 1945

I scored this little darling last week.


Here we have 1941's "Chappaqua Cookbook" from the The Congregational Church of Chappaqua.


The first thing I ought to say about this particular church cookbook is that it was absolutely brimming with racist imagery. Pages and pages of it. I have several cookbooks from this era and once in a while there will be something to raise an eyebrow... But Chappaqua Cookbook? Chock full. I won't share any images as I don't think anyone benefits from that. 

Considering only the recipes, the book is wonderful. One of the first recipes in the book is the below. I imagined this being whipped up in a prison toilet. This is one of the only "home brew" recipes I have come across in one of these collections. I imagine wild "Sherry" fueled ragers going down at the Congregational Church.

The next one gave me a case of the barf-spits. Prune/mayo/seafood? I can't live at that speed.


My favorite part of 40s/50s Church/Community cookbooks is the hand drawn art work that was common. From the 60s on you don't see this as much. It was pretty much a convention in the 40s and 50s. I absolutely love the "illuminated" title of this pickle recipe.


These lil' dancing cukes? I love them


Anyhow, I came across the following recipe for "Transparent Pie"by M. Pennebaker (L.H.P.). I have no idea what "L.H.P." stands for, but maybe it's this which would make M. Pennebaker a whole lot more interesting. Something about the name "Transparent Pie" made me laugh so I decided to give it a whirl.


From a cursory reading this seems to be a pretty run of the mill custard pie. I don't consider custard pies to be particularly transparent, but I went with it anyhow.

Church cookbook recipes always have you throwing things in double boilers. Because of this I have been on the hunt for a vintage enamelware double boiler. Haven't found a good one yet. In the meantime I do the bowl over a pot thing.


One thing about this recipe that is interesting to me is how much culinary knowledge it presupposes. I love custard so I know what the drill is. I could easily see it not being apparent to others that you are going to want to cook the custard until it is fairly stiff. That would make for a soupy pie and no one likes a soupy pie. Also, "meringue on top" is a pretty spare bit of instruction.

I took "a slow oven" to be 325. So in she went for 30 minutes. I made the meringue by hand with a whisk as I'm a masochist. It came out fairly crappy.


I let it chill and cut myself a slice this very morning for breakfast.


As you can see there is nothing particularly "transparent" about the "Transparent Pie." It is pretty much just a custard pie with some meringue on it. False advertising.

I am a huge custard pie fan. In fact, I don't consider you to be much of a person unless you can cook a decent custard pie. So I was a bit surprised that I didn't really like this recipe. I would dial the sugar way back. Also, I don't really feel like the meringue brings much to the party.

So there you have it. Weird pie from Chappaqua.

One of these days I need to have a dinner party and go full bore with some of the more interesting recipes from these books. I play it fairly conservative as I don't really want to waste food in the name of bizarre historical recipe experimentation. I am starting to accrue a mental stockpile of whizbangers that need to be brought to life and it is starting to bother me...

I might actually have to start a "Ridiculous Food Society" to consume them...
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