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Thanksgiving Pies

Much to my childhood disappointment, I didn’t have grandmothers, and my mother didn’t bake. So I came to pie-making later in life, and had a frustrating time learning.

I started with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French cooking, but it wasn’t until I actually saw a person make pie dough in my kitchen that I started to be less afraid I’d screw it up.  For a decade, I followed Julia’s rigorous by-hand method of mixing the flour and butter.


But making pie dough in a food processor is a snap and fool-proof and that’s how I do it today. I make all-butter crusts. My other tip: use the refrigerator. If the dough starts to get too soft at any point in the process, put it in the fridge for a bit. (That’s how to avoid some of the woogey edges you’ll see in my pictures!) Then take it out and continue forth.


I’d love to achieve perfection. I haven’t. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. This pie crust was puffy, crisp and buttery.

Apple pie is one of the pies I make every Thanksgiving.


Once again, I don’t like to bog the apples down in dark spices. I like the clean juicy flavor of the apple to come through.

I grew up hating pumpkin pie because the  ones of my childhood were dark, icky-textured things made with stuff that came from cans.

But a couple years ago, a pumpkin plant grew in our garden, all on its own, transferred by the compost. It grew to be a big, green, squat pumpkin, a child of one we got at our local farm, Sport Hill Farm in Easton, CT.  It was time to discover if I could make a pumpkin pie I’d love.


Pumpkin has a lot of water in it. So after roasting segments in in the oven, I cooked the mashed flesh in a pan to dry it.

I used the recipe one of my favorite cookbooks, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham as my guide.

I replaced the 1 and a half cups of heavy cream with coconut milk.  Instead of adding dark, dried spices, I grated fresh ginger, lemon grass and pounded a cardamom seed, and steeped them in warm coconut milk.


I thought it was the best pumpkin pie I’d ever had in my life. A smooth light filling, bright flavors of ginger, lemongrass and cardamom and coconut. No pictures of the finished product because we wanted to eat, not stand around and wait to take pictures. Sometimes living and experiencing is more important than recording.


These beautiful pies were made by my friend Susan, who is an artist. They were delicious.

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