The Story of Thanksgiving

he first Thanksgiving on Plymouth Rock happened in 1621, but did you know the first official Thanksgiving National holiday wasn’t on the books or on calendars until Abraham Lincoln declared such in 1863? Why, then, do we associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims? And how did Pumpkin Pie find it's way to the table? Read on.

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The "Not a Pumpin Pie Fan" Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkins Big dessert fan. Huge.  But I've never loved pumpkin pie, and thinking back, I believe that last year may have been the first year I've ever chosen to have a slice.  Point being, it's not my favorite.

I had an early Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend, and volunteered to make the pumpkin pie.  "If you're not a fan, why would you offer to make it" you ask, especially since I could have walked to the store and purchased a pre-made pie? Because I believe when food is homemade, it comes from love.  Seriously.  When one takes the time to make food for others, it comes from a place of kindness, which you can't replicate with store bought goods.

A reader asked me recently if I tested a recipe before I made it, especially for a holiday like Thanksgiving, where food is front and center. I tend to NOT test the recipe first, reason being that I select recipes from sources that I trust and where I have previously found successful recipes.  Having never made a pumpkin pie, I went to my "go-to" sources.  For the crust, I went with Martha Stewart.  I've made many of her recipes, which are user friendly and always turn out great.  For the pie filling, I went to America's Test Kitchen, who have some of the tastiest recipes, hands down.

You can go with a store bought crust if you wish or if you're short on time.  Since this was a single layer pie, without a top crust, I cut the recipe found here in half and it turned out great.  I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon onto the crust before I put it into the oven for a little added deliciousness!  This was a time when I wished I had purchased pie weights.  Whenever I see them, I think to myself that I should buy them, but can't think of a time in the near future when I'll be making a pie.  Lesson learned? Pick them up the next time I see them! For this pie crust, I used rice to keep the bottom on the pie dish, which worked just as well.

Pumpkin Pie Filling:

1 cup heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (I used the entire can sans liquid) ¾ cup sugar ¼ cup pure maple syrup ¼ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt 1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought

Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and place rimmed baking sheet on the rack.

Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl, and set aside. For this, I used my standing mixer, but a hand mixer will work just as well.

Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture.

**If making your crust from scratch, you will need to bake it according to the directions, before adding filling.**

Place pie crust in pie plate and carefully place plate on the preheated baking sheet. Bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 ° F, and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 ° F), 20 to 35 minutes longer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly; the pie finishes cooking with residual heat.

Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature for 2-3 hours, not in the refrigerator to ensure that the filling sets. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream.

*** As a side note, I had some filling left over, which I made into 6 mini-pies for friends, using pre-made graham cracker crusts.  And, I LOVED this recipe.  I sampled one of the mini-pies, and enjoyed every bit of the deliciousness!***

Thanksgiving Gratitude

What day is better than Thanksgiving, to write a gratitude list? Here are 5 things that I am grateful for today and everyday.

1) My family, friends and loved ones: Being able to share happy times and also having people to lean on when times get tough is truly a blessing.
2) My Health: Other than an occasional cold or feeling worn down, I am generally healthy and for that I am thankful.
3) Enjoying delicious food today and everyday: While I try to eat healthy, it was nice to indulge a little bit today (see yesterday's blog about the dessert - it was truly a treat!) I'm grateful to have food in my refrigerator, thankful for the knowledge of how to cook food and the enjoyment of learning new ways to prepare food!
4) Being a girl: It's fun being a girl and there are just some days that I like dressing up.  Today was one of those days that I enjoyed wearing a skirt, putting on some lipstick and happy that I got a manicure earlier in the week.
5) Coffee: No explanation needed.  Tonight, we drank our coffee, post dinner, out of pretty coffee cups with saucers which always reminds me of being a little girl, having a tea party.  Most mornings, I drink my coffee out of a big mug, so it's nice to break out the "fancy" dishes and enjoy.

What are you thankful for today?

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and had a wonderful Thanksgiving!