TRR photo by Laurie Stuart

Love that pumpkin pie!

When I was a kid, my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was dessert. Pumpkin pie, that is. I like the flavor. I like the texture. I like it served with real whipped cream.  And I especially like that the filling is a relatively healthy serving of protein, calcium and vegetable.  And you know, if you’re gluten intolerant you can simply leave off the crust!


My mother always made her own crusts.


Throwing one cup of flour into a bowl, and using a pastry blender, she would toss in ½ teaspoon of salt and cut in 1/3 cup of shortening and approximately 3 tablespoons of ice water, adding it a little at a time by gently pushing the flour mixture around until it starts to clump into a ball. Then, she’d dump the whole thing in the middle of a piece of wax paper, draw up the corners and shape it into a ball. After letting it chill in the refrigerator, she’d get out her wooden rolling pin, which was covered with a cotton sleeve, and open up her rolling cloth—a piece of canvas that was perpetually covered with flour. She’d put the ball in the middle of the cloth, and begin to flatten it by pushing the rolling pin down on it. When it was about 1 inch thick, she’d begin to roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick, invert a pie plate on it and draw a larger circle another ½ inch out from the edge, and cut out the larger circle. Then she’d line the pie tin with the crust (whoosh that’s an old reference to tin plates!), tuck under the extra edge, and flute it between the thumb and index finger on her left hand and her index finger on the right.


She didn’t waste the scraps left over after cutting out the circle, either. She’d scoop them up, put them into the waxed paper and refrigerate them until she’d finished putting the pie together. Then she’d roll the dough out, brush a little bit of melted butter on it, cover it with cinnamon sugar, cut it into strips, place on a cookie sheet and bake it as a snack (8-10 minutes in a 350° oven).


Me, I use prepared crusts. Pillsbury or store brand—either works for me. I unroll the crust, lay it in the pie plate, fold under the edge and do the same fluting. Then I move onto the filling.


The pumpkin pie filling is pretty simple. You can use fresh pumpkin that has been cut into sections and steamed then pureéd or you can use canned pumpkin. Here’s my recipe for two nine-inch pies.  If you want to make only one pie, use a 15-oz. can of pumpkin and half of all of the other ingredients.



2 nine-inch pie crusts, homemade or prepared—Pillsbury, $3.49

4 cups fresh cooked pumpkin or one 27oz. canned pumpkin (not pie filling)—IGA $2.59

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon—$0.19

1 tsp. nutmeg—$0.25

1 tsp. ground ginger—$0.17

1/2 tsp. salt—less than one cent

4 eggs—$1.00

½ cup brown sugar (IGA on sale at Pete’s and Pecks through Sunday)—$0.20

½ cup granulated white sugar—$0.16

2 14-oz. cans evaporated milk (IGA on sale at Pete’s and Pecks through Sunday)—$1.98)

TOTAL COST: $10.03


Approximate price per slice (2 pies, 8 slices each): $0.63



After preparing the crust, place the pumpkin into a mixing bowl; add spices. (Some people like to add ¼ teaspoon cloves in addition to the spices I list, but I generally leave it out.) Beat in eggs, and then the evaporated milk and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° for an additional 35-40 minutes.

Let cool before serving.

To make your own whipped cream: put a small mixing bowl and beaters into freezer for 15 minutes or so. When cold, add 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and beat until it forms peaks.

As you can see, my pumpkin pie recipe and memories are fairly simple. Sweet and grounding, too. 


How about you? Have memories around your favorite pumpkin dessert? Share recipes and photos at


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