American Pie: Raisins, Revolution & Rage

So much has happened this week, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve made a delicious old raisin pie recipe that I found in my great-grandmother’s recipes. I should clarify that it’s the recipe which is old … not that you use old raisins :-)

My family has lived the American dream for so many years now. It was about 200 years ago that my family immigrated from England to the state of Michigan to take up a land grant. I’m not sure of the reasoning but only half of the large family made the move to America while the remainder stayed behind. Did they seek a new opportunity or quest for freedom?

I wish I could go back in time and learn what made a set of brothers travel by boat to the eastern edge of Canada, then ride horses for thousands of miles across Canada, and down into Michigan. It’s not as if it would have been a pleasure trip and indeed one brother died during the trip across Canada.

Regardless, my ancestors settled in Michigan and established a small farm of a few hundred acres. The farm remains in my family and has received a state designation as a historic property. A few years ago my parents, my brother and myself made a trip to the small village of Banham where the family originated. We visited the church and graveyard, and talked with the locals about our family. Many people with our family name still resided there … cousins of distant cousins, each with a bloodline matching mine.

My great-grandmother often told me stories about her parents and the way the world was back when she was a girl in the 19th century. I made this pie recipe recently in her honor, just to get back a little taste of my ancestry. The pie is essentially a custard made with raisins. I substituted an equal amount of chopped dried plums (yes, prunes … I just love ’em). You make a meringue to top the whole thing. I usually don’t like meringue but it pairs nicely with the heaviness of the custard. Instead of a normal pie crust, I opted to use phyllo sheets to lighten it up on calories … I know, it’s a custard pie … what was I thinking?

Thinking of my ancestry this week is timely given that historic events are happening in our world. I am an extremely outspoken person … just ask any friend or family member who has been on the receiving end of my loud mouth. For some odd reason, I don’t subject my blog readers to all of my thoughts and feelings since many of them don’t relate to food.

This week the first African-American President was elected in a landslide victory. A new chapter in US politics has begun and hopefully he can right the many wrongs made over the recent years. I am hopeful and I am proud of his victory. Inversely, I am saddened by a local piece of legislation on the California ballot as it effects me personally and involves civil rights. I did not speak out on the issue before the election and I regret it. However, I made the decision to speak out yesterday and it will be hard to get me to shut up about it moving forward.

For many of you, you may not agree with me. That’s ok. If it makes you want to no longer read my blog, so be it. I won’t take it personally if you click away and never come back. I’ve since received emails and blog posts in strong support which is encouraging. To all of you, I give my thanks.

I vented my thoughts and feelings on a very personal and passionate issue. I feel that I’ve written it respectfully and tactfully (ok, the photo is a bit jarring … but I had to let one eccentricity slip through!). I was so proud of myself that I didn’t use a single swear word. I’ve received a few emails and read posts that are name calling and downright hateful toward me. I don’t get it and that’s not my style, so while I find it unfortunate … it’s ultimately not my problem. While I can understand a difference of opinion, I do not condone hateful comments and if any are received on this post they will be deleted … that’s just how I roll.

The beauty of America is that we all get to think and feel how we want. I can believe the sky is blue and you can believe the sky is green. However, one person’s rights end where the next person’s rights begin. In my heart, I hope this is why my family went through the pain and agony of immigrating here so many years ago and is why they fought in the Civil War. Not only does this country bring opportunities, it welcomes freedom of speech and provides personal freedoms.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter G November 6, 2008, 9:36 pm

    Bravo! Well said Allen! Stand and up and be counted and have your say. You have my full support!

  • Manggy November 6, 2008, 10:00 pm

    Hey, after all you’ve been through, a few hundred calories are warranted. (Snicker at the old raisins comment– for all you know, they’d probably still be viable! :) Have the late votes been counted yet?

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your history with us. Imagining you speaking in an English accent is bringing back Lord of the Rings memories. Anyway, I find it appalling that people would go out of their way to express their hatred toward you– someone they haven’t even met and barely (er, don’t) know. I guess I don’t know people at all, or am still incredibly naive. I wish I could give them a physical ass-whooping (stop laughing! I can do it!). I gotcher back.

  • Ellen November 6, 2008, 10:05 pm

    i agree completely. it is so disheartening that this was possible, and i can’t help but hope that there will be something done to fix it. people don’t seem to understand the magnitude of this passing… it is a fundamental human rights issue and affects so many more than just gay and lesbians from california.

    good for you for expressing your beliefs! i feel like this wouldn’t have passed if more people talked about it with such passion.

  • Mairi November 6, 2008, 10:10 pm

    My family, in MN, used to make a Sour Cream Raisin Pie–which looks eerily similar to the one you made (though my family had a penchant for 7 inch high meringue–no, really.). I have to ask–was there sour cream involved?

    As for anyone who has hatred or anger directed at you–eh. Just not worth the time. I found your site BECAUSE of your post yesterday, and I believe you’ve started something pretty damn cool. There’s a good list of folks who agree–and that list is only growing.

  • kat November 6, 2008, 10:28 pm

    The pie is so interesting, I can see the English influence in it.

    I was so shocked to hear Prop 8 passed. It just disgusts me that people can be so full of hate & stupidity.

  • Peter November 6, 2008, 10:35 pm

    Allen, I’m in solidarity with you and I hope the legal challenges work and uphold the right to unite in a same sex marriage in California.

    What f-ing harm is it if two people want to be wed together? I really can’t see how a same sex marriage impedes or threatens my family structure.

    On to lighter things, keep on sharing and bringing forth grandmas recipes…there’s gold in those receipts.

  • Ginny November 6, 2008, 11:04 pm

    Eating Out Loud? Ah, it makes so much sense!

    I am all for voicing you opinion…I was so upset by that decision that I can’t even imagine how you feel. It is ridiculous! I support you!!! :)

  • Allen November 6, 2008, 11:05 pm

    Peter: Thank you, sir!

    Manggy: I WISH I could pull off a real British accent … I’m absolutely horrible at it :(

    Ellen: Thank you!

    Mairi: Nope, no sour cream … but that sure sounds like a great addition :-) 7 inch meringue – holy crap, that’s one tall pie!

    Kat: Thank you!

    Peter: Thanks, Peter!

  • Allen November 6, 2008, 11:08 pm

    Ginny: Thank you!

  • Esi November 6, 2008, 11:10 pm

    Allen – thank you for being so open about your feelings on Prop 8. As a black heterosexual female, I was raised by parents who taught me to accept and love everyone regardless of anything that may set them apart from the mainstream. I have been very vocal on my feelings about prop 8 and have attended 3 rallies/protests about it in the last week alone. I want you to know that I will continue to fight for you and all of my friends until this injustice has been corrected and I applaud you for taking a stand no matter what.

    PS – the pie looks/sounds amazing and major props for figuring out ways to lighten up such a rich dessert!

  • food librarian November 6, 2008, 11:49 pm

    My excitement and tears of joy with Obama’s victory were shot down by Prop 8’s passage. Rock on, Allen…your blog is called eating OUT LOUD.

  • jenny November 7, 2008, 1:00 pm

    Jolly good for you. I’ve really been inspired recently by people standing up and being counted, and that politics is actually being discussed. Very sad about prop 8. Now that the adverts have stopped being about politics they seem to be about engagement rings wich is really a massive slap in the face.

    Lovely looking pie too.

  • Scott November 7, 2008, 1:53 pm

    You are all SICK-Os…. Raisin pie? Really? Gag… Allen, if you do not mind, I’ll just pick the meringue off your slice…mmmmmmmm Meringue!!!

    We all had high hopes for the state of California, I’m sorry for you and your partner. although, You do not need state approvel to love each other and treat each other well. (although it would help) I never thought I’d see the day where churches were the source of so much hate in this country. Sad really.

    btw… still can’t get enough of the soy butts

  • Erin November 7, 2008, 3:03 pm

    Allen dear only you can make raisins and prunes look that appealing… and as you’re already aware you have my full political support.

  • Arundathi November 7, 2008, 8:40 pm

    you have my full support. its incredible that in a country that just voted in their first ever african-american president, there can be such ignorance in passing prop 8. talk about hypocritical!
    excellently written.

  • Melissa November 7, 2008, 10:15 pm

    I too was shocked that this country is still so dominated by religious conservatism that an atrocity like Proposition 8 passed. What I can never get past is the overwhelming stupidity and arrogance inherent to the assumption of the religious right that what other people do has anything at all to do with them. I could not care less what other people are doing with their lives. Religious people are always up in everybody’s shit. I don’t get why they are unable to understand that this has nothing to do with them. This is a civil rights issue. Period. They deserve no say in this matter.

    Not that such a ballot initiative would ever have a chance in my state (home to the notorious hatemongers the Phelpses), but if it come up for a vote I would relish the chance to vote to strike down something that hateful and asinine.

    Okay, gotta end it here. I can feel myself getting all on a rampage. Suffice to say, I cannot stand fanatics. I spit on anybody who supports this nonsense, yet still considers himself a moral person.

    Go you, go you, go you. I need to get some more wine.

  • Melissa November 7, 2008, 10:16 pm

    P.S. Your raisin pie seems oddly delicious.

  • IMR November 8, 2008, 1:12 pm


    Two things…
    First, I fully support gay marriage, and am downright shocked by the lack of state support in CA.

    Second, the raisin pie recipe link isn’t working. Can you re-jigger it, so I can whip up one for my family?

  • Graeme November 8, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Thank the stars for Grandmas, eh?
    Can’t argue with Raisins!

  • Roxy November 8, 2008, 8:56 pm

    Bravo! Well said… thank you, for reminding me that staying silent is not the answer!

  • chris November 8, 2008, 9:24 pm

    I won’t get into the argument but I just want to say that if you want to preach equality and not to be so judgmental, then you shouldn’t go as so far to compare SELECT christians or other religious groups to organized crime or all as hateful when there are those out there who aren’t. To do so is hugely hypocritical.

  • canarygirl November 9, 2008, 2:29 am

    Raisin pie! Oh how delicious! My mom/grandma/great grandma etc have made sour cream raisin pie for generations, and I have yet to try my hand. As far as Prop 8? I simply cannot effing believe that passed. It is totally baffling to me. How in the hell, in this day and age, did that go through? Keep fighting, Allen. I’ll be right there with you.

  • Allen November 9, 2008, 2:40 pm

    Thanks to everyone for your supportive words – I truly appreciate it!

    IMR: Ooops, I fixed the link — sorry about that!

    Chris: My apologies if my comments weren’t clear. I don’t equate all christians or a particular religion to organized crime. My comment was intended to infer that an organized religion could pool its resources to fund something that I find personally damaging. Sadly, a religion may operate and advocate messages that are not true reflections of all of the congregation, as is true with the Mormon funding of Prop 8. I’ve rec’d wonderfully supportive emails from Mormons who noted their shame and apologies that the church decided to involve itself with this legislation.

    On a side note: I am inquiring with my congressman and IRS on the laws governing non-profits and involvement in political legislation as there are rules to govern such things. Funding political initiatives can forfeit non-profit status.

  • Carolyn Jung November 10, 2008, 11:02 pm

    I’m not always the biggest raisin fan. But I have to say that this pie looks so divine, I just might become a bigger raisin lover as a result.

  • Lori November 11, 2008, 6:33 am

    Oh what memories! My mother has made raisin pies in the past and I expect they came from my great grandmother as well. It has been forever since she’s made one. I always turned my nose up as a kid, but as an adult I might find I like them. Yours looks beautiful!

    It is enjoyable to read about your family history and how you involve it in the post. It is so awful to hear about the hateful comments you have received. There is just no excuse for that. Whether a person agrees or not it doesn’t matter, it is wrong to be so hateful to a fellow human being. I love your blog by the way and have no intentions of ending my visits. :)

  • Jamila December 22, 2008, 10:31 am

    You have great blog here! I love raisen pie, an old favorite in our famil. This unusal way of making it looke so inviting I may have to give it a whirl.

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