Colonial Kitchen // Pie Crust + A Girl Named Olive
**Forewarning, this post turned out to be very long and very much about my personal family history. If you are looking for pie crust, the recipe is near the end of this post! Although my family's history is really interesting to me, I understand if you're just here for the pie (;
A couple of days ago, I finished watching the 8th season of the The Vampire Diaries. I'm not exactly proud of this accomplishment. I've spent the past three months watching this television series from start to finish, laughing at its horribly cheesy dialogue and premise, and then actually kind of enjoying watching it everyday while I worked. I was frustrated but also kind of the happy that Netflix didn't have the 8th season available to me when I finished the 7th one a few weeks ago because I knew it might take a while, and then I would have more time to enjoy the show, but they let me down and released the new season as soon as the finale aired on cable. In case you didn't know, we don't have cable. I don't watch or read the news, and I am a sad little baby that knows nothing about the current events of the world. Quite honestly, as much as I like to know things, I feel so much happier now that I don't read/watch the news or any other television programs or COMMERCIALS. Thank the universe for not having to watch commercials. They are the root to all of our problems, I tell ya! Kid, that's not for you!
Anyway, I finished The Vampire Diaries, ***spoiler Stefan freaking died and Elena looked weird and I was all of a sudden feeling kind of empty inside. It was over and I had entered the "show hole" or whatever it's called where I spent months watching this one show and now have nothing else to live for. You know, first world problems and fandom geekiness. So, what was I to do? I guess I could get back to writing Colonial Kitchen. Yes, that's right. I'm blaming a vampire television show for the reason why I haven't been working on colonial themed cooking and/or working on my family tree. Priorities, people!!!!
I was really hoping to do some family tree work this winter. If you've ever worked on your family tree (I work through Ancestry.com), you'll know that it's kind of intensive work and a good old-fashioned time suck. It was my new hobby while I was pregnant, along with knitting. I would spend hours tracking family members and digging for new clues, only realizing that I had missed lunch once my butt started to ache and my eyes were feeling fried.
Did you see that we got chickens? Seems off topic, but you'll be happy to know that I named one of our chickens after a member of my family within my own personal ties to the eighteenth century. It was a good one; it's probably my favorite period of history! I feel incredibly drawn to it, though I also feel really drawn to President Abraham Lincoln. Do you ever get those gut feelings? Sometimes I wonder what my past lives were like, and if they have something to do with what I'm connected to now. Or maybe I just really love the culture of that time, the eighteenth century that is. I love the clothing! The men's clothing, in particular, was so stunning. Those coats!
Either way, I named one of our sweet chickies Olive, after a member of my tree named Olive Hall. Olive was the grandmother of my great grandmother, Muriel (who also helped name one of my chickens). Olive was born in Iowa in 1871 and lived to be 96. From what I have learned just by looking online, she loved to quilt. There's little Olive, below.
**My great aunt just stopped over today and said that she remembers her being very tall, a bit scary, and with one eye! OMG!
Obviously the wrong century, but Olive's family records proved to be really well kept! I have been able to trace the Hall's family records all the way back to the early 1500s. I KNOW. I was kind of inspired to look back on this particular relative while my cousin was in town the other day. She had mentioned that she really didn't know much about our family lineage as we talked about the chickens' names, and I remembered that she was related to Olive as well. I had to go back and check on my research about the Hall family. I really encourage you to dive into your family's history! It's so interesting being able to go this far back and see all of my direct ancestors, almost surreal really, that I ever had any relation to someone who lived in the late middle ages, well the century after that, and before too, but I haven't been able to find out their names yet. Looking through European records on the internet is tricky!
John Ellis Hall (I may have to stick the name Ellis in my back pocket!) was born in 1510 in Lawford, Essex, England and lived to be 50. He was married to a woman named Jone and had one son, Thomas. It wasn't until seventy-seven years later that the Halls landed in the Americas. It was John Hall's great grandson, John Ellis Hall II, that made the trip across the Atlantic from Coventry, Warwickshire, England with his wife Pease Bethia Farmer - there is a name for you! - and their son, John Hall III. Pease passed away in 1619, after their marriage of 10 years, in Ashburton, England. It was after that that John and his thirteen-year-old son (I believe he had another son, Ralph, but I have only researched our direct ancestors) boarded a ship and landed in Dover, New Hampshire. I have listed a printed record below of their arrival.
This is where it starts getting a little tricky, because there are many books with records on the two John Halls from the early settlements of the New Hampshire Colony. There was definitely a John Hall and John Hall Junior arriving in the 1630s and 1650s, which makes sense. His son, John Hall III, became the Deacon of a Puritan church and was a very important figurehead. One account I have found states this about the two Hall men:
"The Hall family has given us politicians, statesmen, authors, lawyers, farmers, sea-going men, teachers, ministers, etc. You name the occupation and you will find a Hall has done it, is doing it, or will be doing it. In 1880 a descendant of Emigrant John Hall was Presidential Candidate on the Temperance Ticket; about 1803 a Hall was pressed into the British Navy for three and a half year and many of them participated in the American Revolution.
From the History of Bucksfield, Maine, a description of one Noah Hall is given - "He is 80-years-old and his wife is 75. They have a farm, keep two good cows, and make butter and cheese to sell. Mr. Hall is vigorous, spry, and works every day." The description appears to carry through into today's generation of vigorous, spry people. Through the years they continued to pioneer and settle the land - they spread from Dover through Maine (the first of Emigrant John Hall's descendants [Deacon John Hall III] to homestead in Maine travelled there by snowshoes) and they were prolific."
I love that it mentions the Halls as vigorous, spry people. In my blog post about our chickens, I wrote about my great grandmother, Muriel, who we named our tallest and most alert chicken after. If anything, Muriel was definitely vigorous and spry!
Eventually the two John Halls moved to Massachusetts and helped to found the colony there in Plymouth, Yarmouth, and was buried in Sandwich. He was the first Deacon of the First Church in Dover. Records say that he loved to work and was willing to put in the time for very little money. One account said,
"Deacon John Hall, the 13th of Janewary, 1671, Agried with all, By the Selleckt-men, to sweep ye meitting house and Ring the Bell, for one holl yeir, from ye date above written, and to have for that service the Some of three pounds."
Then the Johns turn into men by the name of Hatevil Hall, who lived through the American Revolution. From what I can tell, they mostly stayed around the Dover, New Hampshire area and in Maine. Below is a photo of Hatevil Hall II's home in Maine. He was not a part of the American Revolution, but his son, Hatevil Hall III, was. Hatevil II (aren't these names great?! I mean, who comes up with these things!!) was a chair maker and was of medium size, according to records. So amazing!!! It says,
"Both he and his wife were open hearted, generous, and hospitable. When he died he left 475 descendants. He visited on horseback his relatives in Dover, to bid them a final farewell..."
What more could you hope to find about your ancestors? And how amazing is that home? What a beauty! I hope that I can travel there someday and visit. How amazing would it be to step inside?! There are just so many wonderful records and history about this family, and I still have yet to discover it all. I would love to continue writing more about the Halls, but that will have to be for another day. Because I do want to tell you about my favorite and famous pie crust recipe. Well, famous within my own little family! LOL!
So let's talk pie crust. What does pie crust have to do with Colonial Kitchen? Just about everything!! Pie was all the rage in the eighteenth century, at least the crust was. Anything you could fit into a crust, bake in an oven for twenty minutes, and eat warm, buttery, and oozing was favorable to porridge, raw vegetables, stews, or overcooked meat. I was watching a documentary, Cooked, the other day, and they had an entire episode dedicated to bread and how we wouldn't be able to survive as a species without it (I absolutely adore Michael Pollan, by the way. I really need to read his books!). I mean, I feel like we've outgrown that ideal nowadays, but a nice warm pie crust would have been a much better alternative when you didn't have much else to eat at the time. It was sweet, a delicacy, and they made that known with their meat pies, fruit pies, sugar pies, etc.
I use this dough for every recipe I have that involves a crust. It's sweet and simple, easy to make, and works well with savory flavors and sweet ones as well. It's technically a short crust, but it doesn't end up tasting like one. I've made short crust before that's extremely thick and bakes like a rock. This is semi-flaky and goldens up like a dream.
How nice is that recipe card? I figured it was time to make the leap and have something a little easier to read and save. If you click on the photo, it can be enlarged and it can be printed as well. I hope that makes saving and finding our recipes a little better for you!
I filled the pie in these photos with my sweet potato pie filling. I tried substituting the sour cream with yogurt, and it did not go as well as planned. It definitely had to bake a lot longer! Maybe I'll try cottage cheese next time. If anything, whole foods is teaching me the art of substitution and also the art of, "you'll just have to wait to eat that." when I run out of ingredients. I can't wait for all of the pie fruits to be in season. Soon! Only one more month until it's Farmer's Market season around here. What is your favorite type of pie? I love cherry!