Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin Pie
From the kitchen of Audrey Coty

Connecticut College

It’s a navy blue hardback book the size of a smart phone. Inside the cover is this photo:


This pocket cookbook was published in 1922 by the Connecticut College Endowment Fund. It came to me from the home of my grandfather-in-law, Daddy Lewis, who lived on Shelter Island, across Long Island Sound by ferry from New London, CT.

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction:
     One day a friend of Aunt Colie was giving a party, and asked, as a neighborly favor, that Aunt Colie make a cake for her. The party was a great success and the cake met with such approval that it was suggested, half in fun, that Aunt Colie “go into the business.” As she was a widow, and was quite alone, after some consideration, she did, “go into the business.”

What I notice are the commas, how they pace the reading of that last sentence, how they date the writing.

Each recipe is like a tweet, and most of each page is blank. Aunt Colie assumes the reader will know how hot to make the oven, and how to tell when the cake or pie is thoroughly baked.


     Make some little time before baking.  One pint milk, 1 pint flour, 2 eggs, salt.  Beat eggs (without separating) then add to them a little of the milk and then a little of the flour-alternating.  Bake in hot buttered pans.


A sliver of pumpkin pie on the forest floor.

  I want to be Aunt Colie in her big sunny kitchen seeming to consist entirely of windows and bright calendars, and of Aunt Colie in a big white apron, a yellow bowl under her arm, and a big spoon beating, click, click, click, through white frosting.

Did she sing? Was there a grandchild leaning over the table, licking the spoon?

Aunt Colie calls her recipes “rules.” Here is her rule for pumpkin pie, which I have broken by substituting maple syrup for the molasses and sugar. Pumpkin pie rules vary in the ratios of milk (or cream) to pumpkin (or squash )to sugar to eggs to spices. I long ago settled on Aunt Colie’s variation.


1 pint milk                                                                1/2 cup (or less) maple syrup, any grade
1 1/2 cups squash                                                   1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 eggs (beaten)                                                        1/2 tablespoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix well together and bake in one crust.  After the pie is in the oven put 3 or 4 spoonfuls of cold milk on top of pie – this makes it brown.