Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lemon Pie and Carrie

I've been thinking a lot lately about the subtle ways in which our ancestors' lives influence our own. There are many small things that trickle down through the generations, influencing our traditions, family activities and foods, often without us even realizing it. Our lifestyle, religion, and career choices, as well as our foods and recreational activities can all be influenced by those that lived generations before and similarly our choices will influence the generations that follow. Sometimes by evaluating our traditions, we can find clues about our heritage.

When I met and married my husband, it was interesting to see the differences in our food preferences. While he and I liked a lot of the same foods, there were foods that I liked and considered practically a staple that he had not eaten much, if at all.  Although I grew up in the west, some of my family's favorites are actually more commonly found in other areas of the U.S.  My family liked nothing better than a meal of fried chicken, cole slaw, and biscuits.  While my mother-in-law was and is a good cook,  I don't know that she has ever fried a chicken or fixed biscuits. My family loved soft, flakey biscuits and had them frequently with meals.  Mom always fried up the chicken crisp and golden in a black cast iron skillet.  Consequently, when my husband and I married, a cast iron skillet seemed like an essential item for our gift registry.  My husband didn't quite see the need but went along with the idea anyway.  I had always loved a wonderful corn pone pie (casserole) that my mom made. My sweet husband wanted to know exactly what was a corn pone anyway?  How could he not know?  We really did not have a meeting of the minds when it came to what constituted a "special breakfast" either.  He had always been a waffles and syrup kind of guy.  I had always loved ham, biscuits and gravy for breakfast more than any other breakfast.  He could not imagine having biscuits and gravy for breakfast and I could not imagine why it seemed so strange to him. It was not until I began to do family history research that things began to fall into place and I began to understand.  You see, both of my parents have family lines with southern roots.  Between my parents, I have ancestors that lived in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.   Looking back, it is evident that without even realizing it,  our ancestry influenced the foods my family ate and loved.


Roderick Monroe Ganus 
Some things are handed down so subtly that no one seems to know their origins, while other things have been passed down with a story . My Grandma's lemon pie came with a bit of a story although I didn't know it as a kid.  But oh how I loved my Grandma Ganus's lemon pie. Her pie was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  I've been told that Grandma's lemon pie recipe actually came from my Grandpa's Aunt Carrie and I just happen to know that his Aunt Carrie held a special place in his heart so it makes that pie recipe extra special. Carrie Melinda Davis married Roderick Monroe Ganus on 27 January 1905 in Oklmulgee, Oklahoma. They lived in Oklahoma for their entire married life and raised their family there.  I have very tender feelings for Roderick and Carrie because they were the ones that took in my Grandpa Heber Ganus when he was orphaned at the sweet young age of 8.  Grandpa Heber's father William "Frank" Ganus died in 1906 and  just three years later in 1909, his mother Sally Faucett Ganus died, leaving her three sons, Earnest, Orson and Heber all alone.  Court records indicate that the oldest brother, Ernest, who was only 16 at the time,  requested that his father's brother Uncle Roderick Ganus be appointed as Administrator of their mother's meager estate. In the court proceedings, Earnest appeared with his two younger brothers Orson and Heber.  In my mind, I can see the three young boys in court feeling so lost and alone, mourning the loss of their parents and wondering who would care for them. The thought breaks my heart.  In his life history, my Grandpa Heber indicated that Roderick took him in and that his Uncle Robert took in his twin brother, Orson . Grandpa didn't say where the oldest brother, Earnest went to live. The young twins, Orson and Heber lived in Oklahoma with their father's brothers  for a year before going to Colorado to live with their mother's brothers to fulfil their mother's (Sally Faucett Ganus)  death bed request.  In his history, Grandpa said of Roderick and Carrie, "These people didn't have much money, but they were good providers and made a good living for their families."  The reality was, times were hard for those Oklahoma Ganus families and so I know it was a huge sacrifice for them to have another mouth to feed.  I feel such gratitude for Roderick and Carrie because they took in my grandpa when he so needed their loving care. It's always amazing to me that I can feel such love for people I've never met.

Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus
and Emmett
I can't help but think of the goodness of Roderick and Carrie when I fix Grandma's lemon pie. What foods do you eat that might have been influenced by your ancestry?  How will your choices influence future generations?


         Carrie's Lemon Pie Filling 

2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 1/4 c. warm water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp butter
small amount of shredded rind. 
3 eggs (save white for meringue)

Cook in double boiler until thick.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Top with meringue.  

4 comments:

  1. That sounds just about the same as the recipe my mom used--and I always loved it, too.

    You are right about gleaning hints as to family origin from favorite foods. I remember getting the standard line that my father's folks were Irish, but even though we dutifully ate the traditional meal my mom would fix for St. Patrick's day, no one seemed to enjoy it. Years later, I uncovered the family secret that my father's parents were really Polish and not Irish--a surprise in many ways, but not if you consider the lackluster participation in that St. Patrick's day meal!

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    1. I haven't made it in a long time, but spent some time at my parent's house last weekend and my mom made it. It is such a good recipe.

      That's funny about the St. Patrick's day meal. Guess your genes were trying to tell you something!

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  2. Thank you for sharing. Of course you forgot the most important part of the recipe... prepare with love. :-)
    Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

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    1. Certainly an important element to anything we fix! Thank you Teresa.

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