Monday, October 12, 2009

Chinese Pie

I have an old 1962 cookbook called Creature Comforts that was compiled by the Ladies' Evening Circle of the Chester Congregational-Baptist Church in Chester, NH. Chester is the town next door to Candia, where our family spent so many wonderful years. This recipe is contained in that cookbook.

When we first arrived in New Hampshire from Washington state, we were puzzled by a number of things. For instance, we could hardly understand what people were saying a lot of the time. I took a call at work from someone in the "Kearsarge" School District and couldn't for the life of me understand the name of the district. It was pronounced something like Keeeahhhsaaaj and, since I had never heard of the place, I was at a loss as to what to write on the message pad. Asking the person to spell it didn't help at all--my request just resulted in a mystifying series of unfamiliar sounds: K-E-A-Ahh-S-A-Ahh-G-E.

Ladies who sewed shared dress "pattens"--back in those days when there were ladies and sewing and dresses.* And patterns.

Dinner was suddenly called supper (suppah), and lunch was dinner (dinnah). A "little lunch" could be eaten as an evening snack--perhaps after the business part of a community meeting.

Something else we had never heard of was "Chinese Pie," which was a popular dish served in school lunchrooms and at potlucks. My questions about it were met with incredulity--You've never heard of Chinese Pie??? Here is the recipe, courtesy of the Congregational-Baptist ladies of Chester.

1 lb. ground beef, fried
1 onion, cut up and browned
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans cream-style corn
5 or 6 potatoes, cooked and mashed

Put beef in the bottom of a buttered casserole with onion and seasonings. Add the corn and cover with the mashed potatoes. Bake in a moderate oven till hot [I'm guessing this would be a 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes]. Serves 4.


*Here is a delightful "household hint" from this same 1962 cookbook (incidentally published the year I graduated from high school): When ironing dresses for school girls, put hanky in pocket before hanging it up.

Don't you just love it? Ironing! Dresses! School girls! Hankies! It makes you think about how much times have changed.


Judith Schwesinger said...

Hello, I grew up eating chinese pie. I recently asked my dad where it came from and he told me that my mom and a group of girls from high school home ec class had made it up. My mom died when I was 3 in 1967 so I don't know alot about her but would love to know more. I don't know what high school she went to but I do know that she grew up in NH. Chinese pie was a favorit in our family and now my kids and grandkids request it all the time. If you have more info on the origins please email me at
Thank you,
Judy Schwesinger

clairz said...

Judith, Chinese Pie was new to me when we moved to New Hampshire in 1984. I have no idea about the origin, but will ask my friends on Facebook. I love the idea that you could be the daughter of the first Chinese Pie maker!