Today would have been Kelly's 39th birthday and every year, since she was old enough to ask, her choice was a pumpkin pie to celebrate the occasion. Understandably, this is a difficult day to bake a pumpkin pie, but somehow, with my baking grounded in family tradition, I'm finding a peacefulness in rolling out the pie dough, mixing pumpkin and spices, and smelling the aroma coming from the oven brings back some happy memories too.
"Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune
without words and never stops...at all"
~Emily DickinsonKelly was born six weeks premature, weighing only 3 lbs-13oz, after a motor vehicle accident we were involved in. When my husband told our oldest daughter, Erin, that she had a baby sister, her answer was, "I'd rather have a Slurpee!" In four weeks, when Kelly had reached (and maintained) over 5 lbs., she came home from the hospital and that all changed. Erin fell in love with her and they were not only sisters, but close friends, sharing their strengths and weaknesses with each other. Kelly even followed in her footsteps and attended Mount Holyoke College. The amazing coincidence between our daughters was that their birthdays were opposite--Erin-8/10 and Kelly 10/8, but moreover, they were two years, two months, two days and two hours apart!
Pumpkin pie is a simple dessert trumpeting in the arrival of Fall. Pumpkins are native to North America and their use dates back to early civilizations in Mexican cooking. It is a symbol of harvest time and of course, Halloween, where it is carved into Jack O'Lanterns. My mother baked pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but usually made sweet potato pie the rest of the year. I like both and can hardly tell the difference since I use the same spices to flavor them, but for Kelly...it had to be pumpkin!
Kelly's Pumpkin Pie
Perfect Pie Crust for a 9-inch pie pan
1-15oz can Pumpkin Puree ( 1 3/4 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 T molasses
1 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. ground Cardamon
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 450F-degrees. Roll out one disk of pie dough from the recipe (that has been chilled).
|Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate|
|Use a fork to prick the surface|
Blind bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes--until golden brown. My reasoning behind doing this step is because the filling is a "custard" and "sealing" the crust by browning it first, you won't get a soggy bottom. And trust me, no one likes a soggy bottom! LOL!!
|Remove from the oven and cool while you mix up the filling|
In a medium bowl, measure the sugars. Add the pumpkin puree and mix to blend. In a large measuring cup, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir the wet ingredients into the sugar/pumpkin mixture. Pour the pumpkin filling into the pre-baked crust.
Lower oven temperature to 325F-degrees.
Lower oven temperature to 325F-degrees.
Place in the center of the oven and set timer for 55 minutes. The filling should be firm, but not cracked. I checked on the pie every 20 minutes and if the crust edge seems to be getting too dark, use a crust protector. (You can also wrap edges with aluminum foil strips.)
Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving. I whipped some heavy cream to top my piece as I thought about the last birthday I spent with Kelly.
I got up this morning, with the prediction of heavy rain for the entire day, but was surprised by the most glorious blue sky...
...and a reflective landscape on our lake.
I smiled and thought about Kelly's last words to me--"I'm Happy."
This past week, with the passing of Steve Jobs, I found myself looking back at his life and one of his quotes has stuck with me today.
"I urge you to pursue your dream and see the opportunities of life's setback--including death itself."
I have, over the last few years since Kelly was diagnose, given to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. It's my opportunity to give back and, furthermore, 100-percent goes for research, which is an important cause--something Kelly asked me to continue for her. In her memory, I have a little Give-Away, compliments of Vera Bradley in their pattern to support the Foundation,Tea Garden,and I will draw a name from the comments on this post. It is a card holder and I love mine.