The time spent waiting for a turkey to roast is good time to muse over gratitude and the people, ideas, entities and things that inspire me this Thanksgiving. Perhaps this is why the turkey is the Thanksgiving centerpiece; it takes so long to cook that no blessing is forgotten. However, something as simple as a pie can inspire plenty of gratitude, as well.
This year, I made a pumpkin pie from scratch. The real deal. This pumpkin came from my Wayward Seed Farm CSA, and has been home decor for a month or so. A few days ago, I opened her up for her second use: food.
I’m thankful for farmers – for Jamie and Adam and their team who grew and delivered this pumpkin – for land and for the agricultural bounty of America. We are a well fed nation, and I am a well fed woman. I’m also thankful for the internet. A quick search taught me how to get my pumpkin pie started. This site highlighting pick your own produce was a good source for the beginning of my process; pictures and notes help immensely. The site gives many options for cooking the pumpkin, but I decided to roast the pumpkin in the oven, rather than steaming or microwaving.
Pumpkin is incredibly easy to puree, I learned. So the next time there’s a canned pumpkin shortage, do not fear. Roast it. Blend it. Done.
As I move forward on the pie crust, I think about my surroundings. I’m grateful for my home, my large kitchen, the fact that I live a life that allows me to explore food and cook for leisure. I’m thankful that the majority of my cooking equipment have been hand-me-downs and that I’ve learned to make a pie crust without having to purchase gadgets to help me with the process. I’m thankful for the women in my life who have shown me their strategies for this once-frustrating task. One of those women is, of course Martha, whose recipe for “Our Favorite Pie Crust” is the recipe I’ve repeated more than any other.
This crust, simply flour, sugar, salt and – my favorite – butter, is so simple to make. I do recommend (as does Martha) using a pastry blender, though in the past, I’ve used the metal wires of a potato masher or a fork. So. Um. I’m grateful for my one and only baking gadget, the pastry blender.
I decided to use Maya’s father’s pumpkin pie recipe to complete the pie, as an homage to family and friends. I am extremely fortunate to have friends like Maya (and Laddan and Sarah and Sara and dozens of others) that push me, forgive me, inspire me, eat my food and fill my life with joy. And I’m grateful for family – mine and others’ – as well. I never had an opportunity to meet Maya’s dad in person, but it’s clear that he and Maya’s mom had great influence in her life, culinary and otherwise.
The Stanton family pumpkin pie recipe is – like the pie crust recipe – very simple. It does require a bit of watch-over, but I was in the kitchen anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. Pictured with the pie is a tribute to my mom and my late stepfather, Jack. Whipped cream was the very first thing that I learned to make in their kitchen. We don’t have a measured recipe (just blend together real whipping cream, some sugar and some vanilla) but it’s very difficult to mess up. I taught my niece and nephew and, well, I was thankful for the opportunity to share a memorable moment with the two of them.
The finished pie brought forth a feeling of accomplishment. Did my pie taste better than the canned pumpkin, store-bought pie crust variety? Of course it did. It contained two ingredients that Libby and Pillsbury have yet to add to the mix: gratitude and love.
Stanton Family Pumpkin Pie
Makes 2 large pies.
1 large (28-32 oz.) can pumpkin (My small pumpkin gave me about 24 oz. of pumpkin meat.)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teas. cinnamon
1/2 teas. ground ginger (I used freshly ground ginger.)
1 teas. salt
2 cup milk
Mix all together and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 until silver knife inserted in the center will come out clean. Do not let pie boil as it will become watery. The cooking time varies from 40 to 60 minutes.
Our Favorite Pie Crust
from Everyday Food
Makes 1 single crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 to 4 TB. ice water
In a large bowl, using a pastry blender, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and cut in with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water, and continue to work dough with pastry blender until crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overwork.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; form into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (Or wrap in plastic, place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling.)