I’m told that Elsie’s pies routinely won first prize at local fairs. This recipe certainly was a winner at the farm. Jim’s face still lights up whenever I make it.

Peach Custard Pie

  • 5 or 6 firm peaches
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • A 9 inch unbaked pie shell

Peel and halve peaches. Place the halves cup side up in the pie shell, covering the bottom completely. Mix the sugar and cornstarch. Add the eggs, beat, and pour over the peaches. Dust the top with cinnamon. Preheat the oven to 425°F., then reduce the heat to 350°F. Put the pie in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes until the custard sets.

Helen (Barclay) Auld’s mincemeat recipe was another Christmas favourite at Thistle Ha’. One of Christopher’s friends recently helped move some heavy furniture. As I handed him the apple pie that I had baked, he asked if I ever made “mince pie”. So I know what to make next time!

An optional ingredient in this recipe is 1/2 lb. lean chopped or ground meat, but I have not tried it.

Helen Auld’s Mincemeat

  • At least 6 quarts of Northern Spy apples
  • 2 lb. raisins
  • 1 lb. currants
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 T. nutmeg
  • 1 lb. suet
  • 2/3 lb. mixed peel
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 lb. sugar
  • fruit juices

Let the mixture stand in a cool place (such as the broad windowsill between the kitchen and the dining room!) for 2-3 days, then freeze or use. Sprinkle a little fresh nutmeg on the filling before baking the pie.

Chinese ChewsI used to wonder how this delectable treat – that so many of us have come to associate with Christmastime at Thistle Ha’ – got its name. Then I recalled a bus trip, back in the 1970’s, with some fellow U. of T. students who were from Hong Kong. They were happily gobbling some treats sent to them by relatives and offered me one of the balls to try. I remember being surprised by how intensely salty they were even though they seemed to be made of candied fruit. I now suspect that Chinese Chews are a North American version of these balls, rolled in sugar instead of salt.

Chinese Chews
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen balls.

  • 1/4 cup pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of fine granulated sugar
  • 3 T. melted butter or shortening
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2/3 cup of chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied pineapple and cherries
  • 3 to 5 T. finely chopped candied or preserved ginger

Beat the eggs until light. Gradually add the sugar and beat thoroughly. Add the butter, melted and cooled. Add fruit and nuts, combine thoroughly. Beat in the dry ingredients. Bake in an 8 inch square pan at 350°F. for 40 minutes. Cut while still warm into small squares and roll into tight balls. Roll the balls in fine sugar to coat them.

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