Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

Father likes mincemeat pie the best.  It takes a long time to make.  I helped to do that.  I stoned the raisins.  First you have to chop the boiled meat and suet very, very fine.  Then the apples are peeled. They have to be chopped very fine also.  Mother ground the spices and made sure I had stoned the raisins (removing the seed) properly.  I stood on a stool with my apron on so I could reach the table. It made me taller.   Mother had to strain the raisins just one more time after I was done.  This will be the best mincemeat pie Father has EVER had.  I think Mother will put some brandy in.  I don’t really like this kind of pie.

I said some of my alphabet from the Primer while I was working.

A  was an Angler, and fished with a hook,

B was a Blockhead, and ne’er learn’d his book,

C The Cat doth play and after slay.*

Everyone was so busy that Josh and Brent came to sing with me.   Their alphabet song was different than mine. I had never head it before. But we sang anyway. Mother told me I had done very well with my song.  I don’t think she can hear Josh and Brent.  It is easy to stay busy today.  It is warm in the kitchen even though the wind is blowing outside. And I can see the clouds run in the sky and the leaves dance to the ground.  Part of the window has water running down on the inside.

My favorite pie is Pumpkin Pie:  Take the pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till it is quite soft, and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine, one glass of rose water, if you like it, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nut meg and sugar and salt to your taste*.  This is not as hard to make as the mincemeat pie.

*American Children Through Their Books:  1700-1835
* The Frugel House Wife:or complete woman cook  – Sussannah Carter

by Mary Beekman

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Kathy Woodbeck

I LOVE LOVE LOVE mincemeat pie, brings me back to many many many good memories i have from my childhood. I have never found a mincemeat that compares to my grandmothers 🙂 of course she used to make her own and can it so we had it periodically thoughout the year but christmas was the most memorable. All the families being together, playing with my cousins, loving on my grandparents and Aunts and Uncles 🙂 oh thank you so much for the wonderful memory today. 🙂

sue tolbert

Hello Mary, I thought I best write you to check on your well being. It has been some time since we last spoke. I am hoping you have been busy with the harvest, Thanksgiving and now Christmas so you have had little time to write. I will check back soon and hope to hear from you. Your friend sue t.



There is something special about baking pies and I love to bake them often, especially on cold winter days when the weather outside is stormy. My niece's little girl is just a little bit older than you are and she loves to come to my house when we bake pies. I have a little stool for her to stand on too.

I love mincemeat and I agree with Grammy B. about using the 'Nonesuch' mincemeat from a jar. It really makes a good pie. If I want to 'soften' the mincemeat flavor a little bit I just add more chopped apple. And I also like pumpkin pies too. I usually use the pumpkin puree from a can – one of the few canned foods which is as good as mashed steamed pumpkin. But sometimes I use small sweet pumpkins anyway because I like to roast the seeds. Yum.

When I was a child my grandmother would let me roll pieces of extra pie dough out into shapes which we baked as little 'cookies' along with the pies. I have taught my niece's daughter how to do this and she loves making them …. sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

My father likes pie even more than cake, and pumpkin is his favorite. I usually bake a pumpkin pie for him for his October birthday instead of a birthday cake.

I'm glad you enjoy making pies and that Josh is able to help you with suggestions and advice.

Grammy B

I must be the odd "man" out, but I LOVE mincemeat pie. In fact, it's my most favorite in the whole world. But, I don't make it from scratch like you do. The Mincemeat filling I use (with apples & raisins, brancy and rum) in called "None Such" and it comes in a jar…it's the modern way. And it's so much easier. I don't see the sense in making something from scratch if someone else can make it for you and it tastes sooooo good. That's why I'm trying to buy some of Josh and Brent's cajeta, but the store seems to be closed at the moment. I'll try again another day.


Dear Mary, the only mincemeat pie I ever liked was made by a lady in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. I wish I had gotten the recipe. It had something different in it to soften the flavor! She also made Opera Fudge,and everything else she knew how to cook. All the buffets around the room were covered with delicious food she had cooked. We could not get her to sit down until every single person had filled their plates! It was a Christmas dinner I have never forgotten. Love, Mom


Friend Sue, I think eating pumpkin pie from the pan with a spoon would be fun. I am

not certain how Mother would address that!! She makes very good crust. Josh makes

very good crust also. Perhaps someday you and your friend could try once again with

a different receipt.

Betty Benesi

I always used to make mincemeat pie out of tradition for my father until I realized one day no one ate it and no one liked it.

In fact, I think it smells better than it tastes, but it's like plumb pudding a little. One of those things you always have. As for pumpkin pie, try simply roasting your jacko lantern cut up into small enough pieces to fit a baking pan, peal off the outside and blend in blender or cuisinart. You can freeze and use later.

sue tolbert

Hello Mary, I had to laugh when you said pumpkin pie isn't hard to make because my friend Randy and I tried and it was a total mess. We did everything you're suppose to do but the pie came out of the oven and was running everywhere. We put it back in the oven two more times and it still never set up. It did taste good so we ate it with spoons and through out the crust. We said we would never try that again and we haven't. Keep working with your primmer because you are doing a wonderful job. You are such a smart child. Enjoy the fall and take Josh and Brent on a fall walk through the woods. Your friend, sue t.



A cooking book for wee ones like me is a wonderful thought.

My friend Brent, seems to like a loaf of minced meat very much……even

for breakfast. Josh likes everything. I usually help mother follow her

receipts but some of my own would be lovely indeed. Chloe is a beautiful name.


Dear Mary: It must ba a "Mary thing" , my grand-daughter Mary loves pumpkin pie too. Every year the day before thanksgiving she comes over to bake the pumpkin pies. It has started a tradition….Mary is in charge of the pumpkin pie! And I agree, I don't much like mincemeat pie myself. Have fun baking with the boys, from their new cookbook, they are rather proficent in the kitchen!

Karen Valentine

Could Mary, with the help of Josh and Brent, write a cookbook with recipes children like to make. My granddaughter, Chloe, is almost 3 and she already likes to help me in the kitchen. Things like meatloaf are fun because she can use her hands to mix. She wears her apron and chef hat while she works.