My first Thanksgiving away from home was my junior year of college. Going to school in northern California meant that I was an 8 hour drive away from home; I had no desire to make the long trek down the 5, and being a broke college kid meant I couldn't afford holiday airfare home. Much to my parents chagrin, I decided to stay in the Bay Area and drive down to Santa Cruz for Thanksgiving dinner with a high school friend who was attending UCSC.
I made a few pumpkin pies, packed up my car, and headed off to Santa Crux aftr dropping off some friends in San Jose. Everyone was worried about me though, since my car wasn't the most reliable--in fact, it had a penchant for breaking down at the worst possible moment. And of course, why would Thanksgiving be any different. Alone on a windy, two-lane road in the Santa Cruz Mountains, halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, my car puttered and jerked to a halt right at a bend in the road. There was no getting it started again, so I pulled out my cell and made some calls...a short while later, AAA was there to give me a lift back to my friend's house in San Jose, the pies still sitting in the back seat.
Though sitting on that mountain road was pretty scary, that turned out to be a great Thanksgiving. We never did eat the pies though, as my hosts already had a full spread prepared. But every year I make the same recipe and laugh when I think about that first Thanksgiving away from home.
This pie is a family favorite; it's bold, spicy flavor puts store-bought--and even the Libby's pumpkin recipe--to shame. I use canned pumpkin, but you can also roast your own pumpkins for the puree.
1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
2 beaten eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon each ground mace and cloves (sub nutmeg for mace if you don't have any mace)
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
½ teaspoon each salt, ginger and nutmeg
9” pie shell (I use Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe)
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Press pie dough into greased 9" pie pan.
In a large bowl, mix ingredients together in the order given. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 45 minutes.
Cool before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.