Monday, November 19, 2012

Aunt Zesta's Pies

Thanksgiving 1950
Grandma Risley with her Grandchildren
Turkey Day can be a little nerve-racking for a new cook, or if you have a houseful of guests and you're trying to make everything come out perfect. No one ever said family gatherings were easy, it's just that our Moms and Grandmothers made it look that way! Practice made for perfect meals, but in reality they probably flubbed up on many occasions before they got it under control!

Uncle Tracey, Aunt Zesta and cousins Shirley, Patsy and Betty
I was talking to my cousin Patsy the other day and I told her I sure wished I could bake a pie like her Mom, Aunt Zesta. She was a master of pie making, each slice picture perfect. I don't think there was a pie college that all of my female relatives graduated from, but they all had degrees in crust making and filling finesse. Aunt Joy, Aunt Hope and of course my Mom and Grandmothers could turn out a holiday meal in two shakes of a Revere Wear pan. And they did it with everyone in the family underfoot in their little kitchens!

Shirley, Betty, Patsy and my brother Sheldon
Our family compiled a cookbook years ago, it was the brainchild of my dear Aunt Joy who loved to cook for all of us. As I turned to "Desserts" to look for pie recipes, I couldn't help but notice just how fat that chapter was! There are 6 recipes for pie crust, each a little different from the others. Hmmm, I've had all of these through the years and they were all Blue Ribbon good, so what's the real secret? Maybe, just maybe it's the hands that made it and the love that was rolled inside. 

Uncle Tracey, my Dad and Uncle Walton
Just in case you are the cook this year and you have a few questions that need answering.... here's a list of hotlines and websites that might just save you from making the meal a "learning experience!" Most of these have a hotline and email that works all throughout the holiday season so keep this list handy.
All times below are Central time.
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays year round; 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; recorded food safety messages available 24 hours a day. Email mphotline.fsis@usda.govThe website features tip sheets and an automated response system available 24/7, including "Ask Karen."
National Turkey Federation: Recipes, FAQs, chef demos, tips
Butterball Turkey Talk Line: (800) 288-8372. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through next Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays Nov. 23-Dec. 26, plus the weekend before Christmas; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 24. features tips, recipes and FAQs. Email Connect with other Thanksgiving cooks on or follow @Butterball on Twitter.
Honeysuckle White Turkey Line: (800) 810-6325. 24 hours daily during the holiday season. Recorded messages on a variety of topics. has tips, recipes, FAQs. Live help from a consumer response specialist, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, (800) 532-5756 (not Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day).
Jennie-O Turkey Hotline:(800) 621-3505. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays. has recipes, tips and FAQs.
Reynolds Turkey Tips Hotline: (800) 745-4000. 24 hours daily during the holidays. Recorded messages on thawing and roasting turkey. More at
Epicurious: Recipes, slide shows, videos and more at the website.
Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line: (800) 777-4959, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Answers here and at to questions about breads and rolls.
Food Network: Thanksgiving menus, recipes and tips at Share your photos, peruse thousands of Thanksgiving recipes and talk turkey in reader forums.
Better Homes & Gardens:Holiday survival guide
General Mills' Betty Crocker help line: (888) 275-2388. 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. has recipes, menus, tips and more.
Pillsbury: Tips, menus, recipes, holiday ideas
Land O'Lakes: Recipes, FAQs, baking tips, videos at the
Crisco Pie Hotline: (877) 367-7438. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays year-round; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 15-24 and Dec. 13-23. More at
Libby Consumer Hotline:(800) 854-0374. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays year-round. Tips, advice, recipes using canned pumpkin and at
Ocean Spray Cranberries:(800) 662-3263. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays year-round. has recipes, menus, tips, FAQs.


  1. WOW, that's some list!!.. and I love your old fashioned photos, what a treasure to have.

    1. It's the one our paper had last week. I could have used this the first few holiday meals I prepared! The pictures are dear to me, this was before I was born in 1952. Love the one of my Dad and his brothers lazing around in the yard... what do you bet the wives were in the kitchen washing dishes?!!!

  2. Oh, that reminds me so much of the holiday meals when I was a kid. Yes, the women were probably flapping around in the kitchen, talking, laughing, sharing advice and recipes while they cleaned up and put away. My dad and his son and sons-in-law would sometimes go out and lift the hood of one of their old cars and they'd all have their heads under the hood, fiddling with this or that, checking oil levels, and so on! LOL

    1. Now you've just described our gatherings! My Dad owned a garage so the engine "tinkering" sounded so familiar!

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  4. Sweet old photos. The older the better for me.

    1. I love to dig in the picture box, so many memories to share! I think it takes us all back to whatever era our childhood was... just back to happy times!


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