Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and on Sunday I’m having the whole family over for a traditional dinner. Much as I like to experiment and try new variations on old themes, there are certain elements of the Thanksgiving dinner menu that are sacrosanct in my family, in particular with my younger daughter.
There must be turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. And, unequivocally, there must be pumpkin pie. Not pumpkin cheesecake, or maple pumpkin pie or any other newfangled recipe. It must be the same pumpkin pie I’ve made year after year. Having three children, I’m used to the fact that there are few dishes that please everyone. Pumpkin pie is that rarity that every mother dreams about: something that everyone in the family loves to eat.
My older daughter came over tonight after work to help me make the pies. She’s seen me make pies many times, but this is the first time we’ve actually made them together. I taught her how to make the pastry, and while it was chilling in the fridge, we mixed the filling. There wasn’t time to start with pie pumpkins (and that’s a deviation that would be frowned upon by the pie police) so we used the customary plain canned pumpkin, along with eggs, brown sugar, and milk. The best part was the spicing. Over the years I’ve developed a particular combination of spices that mean “Mum’s Pumpkin Pie” to my kids. For a 9-inch pie, I use about 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and about 1/4 tsp ground cloves. (And, I taste and adjust if necessary to get it just right.) I thought about trying out a splash of vanilla, but I’ve never done that before, and I didn’t dare mess with the tradition. No, not at Thanksgiving. I’ll save that radical change for another time.
Once the filling was mixed, it was time for a lesson in rolling out the pastry, getting it into the pie plates, and crimping the edges. Then into the oven, to not only bake, but also perfume the house with that wonderful pastry-ish, spicy aroma. It smells so good in here!
What a wonderful way to spend the evening with my daughter (thanks for the help, Jenn!), pass on a tradition, and get ahead of the game for my Thanksgiving preparations.
Now, I just need to resist the temptation of a taste until after dinner on Sunday.