Two Thanksgiving Things (and a bunch of parenthesis)

1. I keep a yellow legal pad on my desk so that I can jot down notes for this blog whenever new ideas pop into my head. Back when I first started this blog I jotted down “Thanksgiving—Pieces of April”. I nearly forgot about that note, too, because there is a fairly large chunk of pages separating that page from my present scratching page.

But I remembered, thank goodness. And this is what I wanted to tell you. If you are in need of a refreshing and uplifting (my opinion, yes) movie (not appropriate for young children, though I can’t really remember anything questionable—maybe one sex scene?) for the Thanksgiving weekend, go rent Pieces of April.

The plot is this: A young woman is estranged from her family (she was a wild child) and is living with her black boyfriend, and her family (her mother is dying of cancer) is coming to their apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s it. But you should see it, if for nothing else then for the sight of her stuffing the turkey with entire stalks of celery.

2. What is a post on Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie? That’s right. It’s not a Thanksgiving post. Therefore, I shall gift you with my recipe. (You best mind your manners and be thankful.)

I normally make this recipe from butternut squash, but because I don’t have any butternuts this year, I’m making do with the pumpkins and squashes I pulled from my garden—they serve the purpose just fine (though I think they are a bit more watery).

My children adore pumpkin pie. Yo-Yo Boy could easily tuck away a half a pie if I let him. And I often do because this recipe makes two pies (one an 8-inch and the other a 9-inch) so there is plenty to go around.

And besides, I consider this pie to be a breakfast pie; in other words, good enough to eat first off in the morning. It’s mostly made of pumpkin, eggs, and milk, and if you use whole wheat in the crust, it couldn’t get much more nutritious (don’t argue with me about this). (Sure there’s some sugar in the filling, but hey, it’s not all that much—my baked oatmeal recipe uses almost as much sugar.)

Of course, the pie is very good with a dollop of whipped cream on top, but we reserve that for special occasions. My children are thrilled enough when they hear I’m fixing pumpkin pie—they don’t even miss the whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from The Mennonite Community Cookbook

Updated, December 2015: Fill one large 9 or 10-inch pie shell with as much pumpkin pie filling as possible. Put the remaining 1-2 cups in a container and freeze. The next time you make pumpkin pies, thaw the leftover filling and then you’ll have enough for two large pies.

2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 cups milk, scalded
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 unbaked pie shells (8-inch and 9-inch)

Using a hand-held mixer, blend together the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and spices. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot milk. Divide the pie filling (it will be very runny) between the two pie shells and bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25-35 minutes, or until the filling has set and the pie is golden brown and slightly puffy.

Note: If you don’t want to make two pies, just reduce the milk and pumpkin to 1 1/4 cups each, cut back the sugar to one cup, and keep the other spices the same—you should then have enough filling for one 9-inch pie. (I think.)


  • Anonymous

    Me again. Just to say I’m not sure why I keep bugging you about sugar. Maybe because I struggle with it so much myself. I know the havoc it has wreaked on my body/mind/spirit, and how much better I have felt when I don’t eat it. And I see my daughter craving sweets and wish with all my heart that I could zap her sweet tooth away in an instant. (I think it’s my fault — I ate a LOT of sweets while pregnant with her. No will power whatsoever.)

    Anyway, enjoy your feast tomorrow. I’ll be savoring the stuffing and cramming one more (thin?) piece of pie (will it be pear custard or blueberry crumb or sour cherry or chocolate cream…) into my over-full belly.


    PS – I’m thankful for a friend with whom I can speak my mind.

    PPS – Yes, we’re making four pies. I have so much fruit in the freezer, and I bake pies about twice a year, so we’re making a party of it this time.

  • Anonymous

    So now I want to share a recipe with you, a deep, dark twist on the traditional cranberry salad. I like mine plenty tart, so I always reduce the sugar, and I’m going to try using maple syrup this year since I haven’t made more maple sugar yet. Plus, the cherries add sweetness as well as depth of flavor. I know it’s too late to make this for Thanksgiving, but you really need to try it sometime this holiday season. On the other hand, maybe you have your own dried tart cherries and an extra bag of cranberries?


    Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish
    adapted from

    1 12-oz. bag cranberries
    1 cup dried tart cherries
    1/2 – 1 cup maple sugar (or other deep brown sugar such as Rapadura or Sucanat)
    1/2 tsp ground cardamom

    Measure half of each ingredient into food processor or heavy-duty blender. Using on/off turns, process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Chill at least 1 day and up to 2 days, stirring occasionally.

  • Anonymous

    If YoYo Boy eats half a pie, he is consuming a full 1/3 cup of sugar. That’s 16 teaspoons, or 64 grams. Not arguing, just presenting the facts, madam.

    Nevertheless, I’m guessing you’ve reduced the sugar from the original recipe?

    I do like pumpkin pie. But tomorrow I make my favorite: pear custard.


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