Vinegar pie

I have been meaning to flip through my Laura Ingalls Wilder books to get the answer to a question I’ve been pondering since the Fourth of July: Does she refer to eating watermelon on the Fourth of July?

I know, not an earth-shaking question. But watermelon seems to be tied in with the Fourth as a must-eat food, and earlier this month I was wondering why because around here, at least, no way is homegrown watermelon going to be ready.

But I seemed to remember Wilder talking about watermelon at that holiday. So, since I apparently have too much time on my hands for topics like this, I was curious.

I had actually decided if there were watermelon references it probably was in Farmer Boy, the book Wilder wrote about her husband’s childhood in New York state. That book is filled with luscious-sounding foods, and I occasionally have marveled at the contrast betwee what he grew up eating and what she grew up eating. (Even in The Long Winter, the Ingalls family was essentially living off gruel, while Royal and Almanzo Wilder made pancakes every night.)

My research, or lack of it, got a prodding yesterday when former co-worker Megan Myers* posted a link to an article where every meal in Farmer Boy had been compiled. Here’s a sample:

"Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie."**

Aren’t you hungry now? I am I’ve already eaten my mid-morning healthy snack.

During one of the excerpts I saw a reference to vinegar pie. I’ve always been curious about vinegar pie. It’s not the kind of thing that gets made a lot anymore since berry pies and cream-and-meringue pies sound much better. And probably are much better.

But at Easter my nephew made a brown sugar pie, something I’ve been curious about for a while, too. So now I’m in pursuit of someone who wants to make a vinegar pie and let me have a slice.Or maybe just a bite.

Here’s a recipe they (you?) can try.

* Actually I’m not positive anymore it was Megan. So I apologize for taking her name in vain if I’m wrong.

**I saw no watermelon references in the excerpts, just mentions of watermelon-rind pickles.