In 1977, while living at home and working fulltime, I was entrusted to help a friend screen people to share a rental home with her. We posted an ad in the paper and at the student union building. We sorted through the many applicants, chiseling it down to the four we thought would best fit. It was a roomy house, not far from campus, that was in really decent condition. A coffee meet was planned at a nearby restaurant. We got there early, and waited patiently for the chosen four to arrive. No Facebook to check them out on, so we didn’t even know what they looked like. I suppose we had beacons on our heads, because they all came straight to our table. It was the easiest gathering of unknowns that I’ve ever been part of. We ended up sitting and talking for close to three hours. At the end of it, we had 3 women and a man that would be sharing the rent & the home. As it turned out, all six of us were born within four weeks of each other. Although I was still living at home (my equestrian pursuits put enough strain on my coffers that I had to stay at home or give up my training), these people would become so important in our lives for the next few years.
The first Thanksgiving in the new house, was epic. Everyone had to bring two guests, so we had 18 people for dinner. My girlfriend and I cooked the turkey nestled in root vegetables, and everything else was potluck and unplanned. I’m sure there were a couple of side dishes, but all I really remember was that somehow 8 pumpkin pies arrived. All home baked, and all very different. Of course we all needed to try a piece of each! Another realization for me – I’m a purist when it comes to pumpkin pie. Do not put raisins in a pumpkin pie. Do not put a crumble on top of a pumpkin pie. Just give me creamy pumpkin custard with un-muddled spice baked in basic pastry with a bit of cream on the side.
The two years that I spent closely knitted with Trutch house taught me so much, from singing with complete abandon, to doing our own SNL versions, and to those long post midnight hours, sitting with tea and figuring out the world with other perspectives. And the fact that I do love pumpkin pie.
Here’s the way I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. I’ve made it with roasted and mashed pumpkin (preferred) or with pumpkin from a tin. I originally got a recipe off the back of a label, and have kept doing it essentially the same way ever since.
1 – 9” Pie
2 eggs (free range, x-large)
2 c of pumpkin that has been roasted & mashed (preferred) or alternately use 1 – 14 oz can of pumpkin (not pie filling) – even though I use slightly less of the tinned than the fresh, I refuse to open a second tin, and it still works well.
1 c packed brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
½ t nutmeg
¼ t salt
¾ c evaporated milk (I use low fat)
Enough pastry for a bottom crust (use ½ of the Basic Pastry recipe)
Preheat the oven to 425°, with the rack in the center of the oven.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs lightly.
Whisk together thoroughly.
Add in the evaporated milk. Stir until completely uniform. Set aside.
Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350° without opening the oven.
Continue cooking for another 35 minutes, until the pumpkin mixture is just set. If it cracks, it is over done. If it looks sloppy when jiggled, it hasn’t yet set. When you jiggle it, the top should move just a bit, looking soft but definitely set.
Let cool completely, and serve at room temperature with whipped cream on the side, and toasted pecans to garnish.
Note: if you have too much filling, pour it into a lightly greased custard cup or ramekin, and cook it alongside the pie. It will be set a few minutes earlier than the pie.
Create a parfait using the cooled pumpkin filling, whipped cream, and chopped, toasted pecans. Perfect for a guest who can’t eat the crust.