Pumpkin Pie and a Thanksgiving Poem

Lydia Maria Child, born in Medford, Massachusetts on February 11, 1802, was an abolitionist and novelist famous for her books on early 19th century female domestic life and racial equality. She was also a journalist, cookbook author, and even wrote a tome on world religions. While her bestselling book “The American Frugal Housewife” made her famous, she’s still best known for the poem that starts off with … “Over the river and through the woods…” and ends with “Hurrah for the pumpkin pie”.

Bestselling author Sharon Wray discusses pumpkin pie and the famous Thanksgiving poem that begins with "over the river and through the woods..."

I’ve always wondered if Lydia Maria Child was obsessed with pumpkin pies because, besides adding a pie to her poem, three different versions appear in her cookbook. She offers the pumpkin pie baker different thoughts about whether or not to scald the milk or add maple syrup instead of sugar. Of all of her recipes, the pumpkin pie recipe is the most confusing because in the middle of the directions she veers off into thought about how the richness of each pie version will affect different members of her family.

Anyway, in honor of the season, I’ve reprinted her famous poem (it’s in the public domain) and I’ve added my favorite pumpkin chiffon pie recipe below that. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and wish for many blessings for you and your family.

The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day

Over the river, and through the wood,
  To grandfather’s house we go;
       The horse knows the way 
       To carry the sleigh
  Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood—
  Oh, how the wind does blow!
       It stings the toes 
       And bites the nose
  As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
  To have a first-rate play.
       Hear the bells ring 
  Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
  Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
       Spring over the ground, 
       Like a hunting-hound!
  For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
  And straight through the barn-yard gate.
       We seem to go 
       Extremely slow,—
  It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood—
  Now grandmother’s cap I spy!
       Hurrah for the fun! 
       Is the pudding done?
  Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

(This poem is the public domain)

The Best Pumpkin Chiffon Pie


Gingersnap Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground gingersnap cookies (approx. 10 oz of gingersnap cookies)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted over a double boiler

Custard Filling:

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
  • 1/4 cup sugar


Whipped cream and extra crushed gingersnaps


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9″ deep dish pie plate.

Use a food processor to crush the gingersnap cookies. In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and sugar. Press the crumbs into the prepared pie plate, using the back of a spoon to even out the crumbs into a uniform crust. Bake at 325 degrees for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

In a heavy saucepan over a double boiler, mix together the gelatin, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, milk, and the three egg yolks. Over a medium heat, cook gently while stirring constantly. Just as it begins to thicken, remove from heat. (Do not let it boil or the eggs will curdle and you’ll have to start again!)

Add into the heated mixture the pumpkin puree and the rum. Stir until mixed well and then refrigerate for up to two hours. Periodically stir the mixture and you want to use it as soon as it thickens enough to form mounds when stirred.

Once the custard is set, leave it in the refrigerator while you beat the egg whites. With an electric mixer and a glass bowl, beat the three egg whites and the 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the stiffened egg whites into the chilled pumpkin puree custard.

Note: If you are concerned about the raw egg whites, use the pasteurized egg whites in the carton available at most grocery stores. Or use an egg white substitute. Powdered egg whites also work.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Refrigerate the pie for several more hours to let the gelatin set. Serve with whipped cream and crumbled gingersnaps. Serves 12.

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Amazon bestselling Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Her third book, IN SEARCH OF TRUTH, is about an ex-Green Beret desperate to win back the woman he loves and save the men he betrayed, even if he must make the greatest sacrifice. It’s available at: Amazon |  Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million | iBooks|  Google | Kobo | IndieBound | Audible

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey, Sharon. Love the poem. Nice to see all the verses. Your pie picture makes my mouth water. I’ve shared. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon Wray says:

      Thanks so much, Marsha. It’s a great pie and my kids even ate it for breakfast today. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathryn Jane says:

    Yum, thanks for filling my head with memories of pumpkin pies!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon Wray says:

      Thank you, Kathryn. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicki Batman says:

    Gingersnap crust is a fabulous addition to pumpkin pie. Sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon Wray says:

      Thanks so much, Vicki! It is my absolute most favorite crust recipe!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author and commented:

    Sharon Wray shares an incredible pie #recipe and a whimsical poem on the Word by Word #blog for the #holidaySeason. Do you have a favorite recipe? We’d love to hear about it 🙂


  5. I love learning history through your posts, Sharon. You bring it to life! Happt holidays, I’m going to try the pie 🙂


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