Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin Pie (or Why I Married My Husband)

Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some traditions are very specific, others are broadly accepted and personalized by everyone. Pumpkin pie is one of those things for sure. Everyone has a memory of pumpkin pie, right?

Nathaniel's family, most of whom are in Tennessee, have this wonderful tradition of real pumpkin pies. Not that frozen crap you buy at Giant. But real pumpkin pie.

No joke. I think this is one of the reasons I married Nathaniel. His off-the-hook pumpkin pie. A million years ago, he walked into the college photo lab carrying a homemade pumpkin pie that he had baked himself. And I mean seriously homemade ~ the crust was hand-rolled; the pumpkin was grown at home and baked to the perfect sweetness. Nathaniel's pies are the real deal. Until you have a real homemade pie with non-canned pumpkin, you just haven't lived a full life.

As I type this, Nathaniel is in the kitchen right now toiling over his annual batch of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. In addition to the ones he makes for us, he now has to make several for my grandmother. She adores his pies. She starts asking for them in August.

So for the first time ever, here is Nathaniel's pumpkin pie recipe. It is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. And worth every second.

Nathaniel’s Pumpkin Pie
(Makes 2, one for you and one more for you!)

4 cups cooked fresh pumpkin (see notes below)
4 eggs
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup natural unprocessed sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t allspice
1 t vanilla extract
2 pre-baked pie crusts (your favorite - we do whole wheat)

Combine wet ingredients. Mash pumpkin but don’t puree. Add dry ingredients. Mix together and pour into pie crusts. Bake for 15 minutes @ 425 degrees. Turn oven back to 350 and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and chill before serving!

Nathaniel reminds me to tell you all that it's also good with crushed & toasted almonds on top or the traditional whipped cream. Or to mix things up, add a handful of chocolate chips into the batter before baking. He says that if you can't find pumpkins to bake, you can also use butternut squash or sweet potatoes in the same ratios for this recipe.

How to cook pumpkin:
For two pies, you will need 3 sugar pumpkins or a large carving pumpkin. Scoop out the innards of the pumpkin and slice flesh into palm size chunks. Place flesh side down in baking dish half full of water. Bake in oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool then peel the skin off. You are ready to make pie or you can freeze the pumpkin and make pies later!

Don’t forget to save and roast your seeds!
~ Rissa

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