Pumpkin Pie

In which we all sit around and eat fruit pie together.

It was Thanksgiving a long, long time ago.  DSCN3247There was the Thanksgiving where my brother-in-law’s friend discovered the song “Alice’s Restaurant.”  I think every time he opened his mouth for that visit, the first word that came out was “Kid…”.  If you know the song, you’ll know how this was said.  If you don’t, I suggest looking it up.

There was the Thanksgiving when my brother’s brought a friend home from college.  Throughout the meal, he was very quiet until we got dessert.  Suddenly, in a loud voice he exclaimed “This is really nice…(pause).  All of us sitting around…(pause).  Eating fruit pie together.” It was so unexpected and prompted questions about whether or not this was normal.  For us, it most definitely was. DSCN3221For me, Thanksgiving has always been a pie holiday.  Sure, there may be other desserts, but they don’t count the same way pie does.  March 14th seems like less of a pie holiday than Thanksgiving.  It’s tradition to leave the table, stomach groaning only to be lured back by someone bringing out the pie.

In my family, we always used fresh whipped cream to top the pie.  Lightly sweetened, perhaps with some vanilla in it, sometimes a little spiked.  DSCN3343It took a me a long time to appreciate pumpkin pie.  It always smelled so good and I loved all the flavors (despite my rant against pumpkin pie spice when it was apple season), but the texture was never my thing.  It was too soft, too slimy, too spongy, something.  I knew that I was bucking tradition by not eating it, but my mom made such wonderful other pies.  I have fond memories of a black bottomed pecan pie.

Had I not had a kid that loves pumpkin pie more than anything, I might’ve continued to have my pie holiday not including the classic.  Since being a mom I’ve made at least one pumpkin pie a year, it’s always been eaten.  There came a time when I couldn’t resist the smells and I started to take just one bite of someone else’s pie because I just needed those flavors in my mouth.  I’m now up to eating a whole small slice by myself.  DSCN3249This recipe for pumpkin pie is my go to.  I found it in my great-grandma’s box of recipes and included it in the book I made for my grandma.  It makes a heavily spiced thin pie filling.

Pumpkin Pie
For 2 pies

1 cup sugar
2 TB flour
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin
1 TB cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger

(Because a list of ingredients isn’t an actual recipe for most people, mix all of the ingredients together, add about a cup and a half of milk. Pour the filling into a pie crust and bake at around 375 for about 50 minutes or until set.)



Cherry Meringue Pie

In which I prove why George Washington would NOT have cut down a cherry tree.

After teasing my family and friends with tantalizing photos of pie for Thanksgiving and because I am in a generous mood, I decided I would share my pie recipes this week.  Some of you will have seen this picture:  Thanksgiving PiesThe cherry meringue pie is the one on the top.  It is one of the best pies I’ve ever put into my mouth.  I feel like there should be some sort of fanfare before I give you the recipe for this fantastic thing.

The first thing you need to do to make this pie is really get in the right frame of mind.  I do this by waking myself up at 2 AM on Tuesday in a panic realizing that if I want pie for Thursday afternoon, I better get to the grocery store when I get home from work and spend Tuesday evening making pie crusts because I need to spend Wednesday evening and Thursday morning making pies if I want to serve pie for dessert on Thanksgiving.

I have a love/hate relationship with making pie crust.  I discussed my flaws in pastry crust with a friend of mine that used to be be a pastry chef.  She suggested that perhaps my issue was that I was trying to roll the dough when it was too cold.  I let it warm up a bit this time and had pretty good luck rolling things out this time.  The edges still cracked more than I liked and I had to do some repair work, but overall, once I talked myself into actually making the pies, the crust turned out beautifully.Pie Crust (2)I just made this pie crust in my food processor.  I didn’t feel like getting my hands in it.  Not that it really mattered because by the time I got everything kneaded and in the fridge, my hands were covered in dough anyway.

For the record, you really can make this pie in one day.  You can even make it in a couple of hours if you use a pre-made crust and your cherries aren’t frozen in a block of 8 cups.  I just do things the hard way. DSCN3345.JPG

I had some issues getting decent pictures of the finished product on a plate.  There were hungry mouths and whiskey slush involved.

Use tart cherries for this.  It provides a nice contrast to the meringue.  The meringue is cooked all the way through.  Think schaumtorte instead of lemon meringue.  It has a slightly sweet delicate crispness.

We ended up having some leftovers, but only because there were 2 other pies and a cake to choose from for dessert.  The boys opted to eat leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast, so when my friends came over after Black Friday shopping, there was still enough for them to try it.  My neighbor also got a small piece.

The pie is so good, it’s totally worth all the self-created drama it took to make it.  Actually, the filling and the meringue are totally simple to make.  If it wasn’t for my pie crust paralysis, I might make this until all my cherries are gone.  Maybe my relationship with pie crust will improve and it will seem like less effort to create this little bit of perfection.

Cherry Meringue Pie

1 cup cherries
1 cup sugar
1 cup juice
1 TB cornstarch

Make meringue with whites of 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar.  Put on top to bake with pie.  Bake in a slow oven one hour. (A slow oven is between 300 and 325, I used 325 for the first 45 minutes or so and turned it down to 300 because I didn’t want to give my crust too much color.)