I am not exactly sure where the recipe for my family’s favorite pumpkin pie originated. I cut it out of a dusty spiral-bound souvenir cookbook I bought at a New England tourist site many years ago. I think it might have been Old Sturbridge Village. I do remember that the pumpkin pie was my husband’s favorite Thanksgiving dessert, and, when we first started hosting the holiday dinner at our home, I always included it on the menu. I tried several recipes for this old standard, but I always came back to the one that follows. I tweaked it a bit over the years, so I have come to consider it my own. In addition to the fact that the pie is spicy, but not overpowering, and has a velvety texture, it always holds it shape so that it is easy to slice on the buffet table. And of course the recipe has a story.
When our daughter first graduated from college with a degree in psychology, she began working at a school for secondary students with special needs. While they frequently tested her patience to the limits and sometimes broke her heart, they won her affection and taught her that a life of serving those whose needs are greatest was her chosen course.
Arguably the highlight of the school year came annually on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. The students, faculty, and staff came together to celebrate as a community with everyone contributing to the festive meal. During the first year of her tenure at the school, our fearless daughter volunteered to bring the pumpkin pie – enough to serve the entire group! Without ever having baked a pie before, she copied my recipe and succeeded in making at least eight, as I recall, and transporting them safely to the school’s dining hall. Predictable recipe was the only one in the informal collection that I ever used, so I had no regrets about tossing the rest of the cookbook when it began showing its age.y, they were a great hit. She continued the tradition for several years – until she moved on to another social service position – even when she lived in a tiny basement apartment with a galley kitchen.
I have lost count of the number of years that I have prepared the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Upwards of forty I think, but I won’t be baking this year. I will still be hosting, while the rest of the family insists on streamlining the menu and doing more, even though, to my mind, they have always contributed their fair share. There will be pumpkin pie, made according our favorite recipe, but our daughter will bring it to help me through and to remember her father, who loved the story of her feeding the whole school pumpkin pie and who could never resist a second slice.
Favorite Pumpkin Pie
A 15 ounce can of pumpkin, 3 eggs, 2 Tbs. flour, 2 Tbs. melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 & 1/4 cups of evaporated milk or half and half.
Beat the eggs until frothy and thick. Add pumpkin and stir well. Then add flour, melted butter, brown sugar, spices, and milk. Stir until well combined and pour into an unbaked 9 or 10 inch pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and cook for another 30 or 40 minutes. The filling should be slightly puffed, and a knife inserted into the center should indicate that it is firm and no longer liquid. Cool on a rack and chill well before serving.