Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kelly's Pumpkin Pie

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 all"
~Emily Dickinson
Kelly 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 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

Unroll dough
Crimp edges

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. 

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. 




  1. Your post (and pie) are beautiful mom! Kelly would have been do touched with all the tributes to her. Love you, Erin

  2. I've never heard of cardomon in pumpkin pie, but I will try it! Sweet tribute to your daughter--I feel your mother's heart.

  3. my darling friend, you have been in my thoughts all weekend,you, Kelly and your beautiful family.
    Your posts always touch my heart, always a true tribute to a Mama's LOVE.
    Never doubt your girl is close, never doubt she doesn't not walk along with you.
    Happy Day Kelly, we celebrate you x
    Hugs of friendship
    Love you

  4. In church this morning, I asked Karen to give Kelly my love and wish her a Happy Birthday. I'm so sorry Kelly can't be there for her pumpkin pie, but she is "everywhere" you are and knows how much you love her. Hang on, dear friend. Take my hand...I won't go.

  5. Thank you Louise~I wish with all my heart that Karen wasn't there with Kelly, but I do find comfort that Kelly is not alone. Holding on to one another, we'll get through this. XOXO

  6. I found your blog a couple years ago because I am a stamper and wannabe punched flower maker and feel that I've come to know your family. Thanks you for your wonderful recipes. My son, DIL and their family are vegetarians and you've given me lots of recipes and ideas for meals during their visits.

    Some of your posts have brought tears to my eyes, this one included. I will try Kelley's Pumpkin Pie this Thanksgiving....about the only time I make it.


  7. there are people in our lives who are part of us, who we will never forget for as long as we live. Kelly will live in our memories, and when we think of her, we will always smile, because she wanted us to remember her with love. Take care, Susan...

  8. What a touching post you wrote today. My heart is with you.

  9. Susan your love for your daughter comes across in any & every beautiful word you write about her.
    I am so sorry she was not here with you to eat her favorite pie but I am sure she watched you make every bit of it with pride and love.
    Tracy P

  10. Oh Susan ~ I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Kelly. I can tell she was a lovely person. You must be a very good mother to raise such sweet daughters. God Bless and Happy Birthday Kelly! ♥

  11. Here in Canada we've just celebrated our Thanksgiving, but your recipe looks so good I'm going to make one just because. I like the cardamom touch, BTW. I adore using that spice (having been brought up around Finns, I guess) and use it often.
    Thanks for sharing your heartwarming story - Love is best shared, isn't it!
    Heather in Montreal

  12. First off, I can't wait for Erin's birthday and her favorite treat.

    Secondly, we send our love and know that no matter what - we will be happy.


  13. Cashie~For Erin's birthday in August, I did a Samoa Cupcake (after her favorite GSA cookies). Her other favorite is carrot cake and I've made a couple of dozen through the years for her special occasions. :)

  14. I love pumpkin pie in the fall.
    stamping sue

  15. As I read your blog today, I actually smelled the pumpkin pie baking... If I can smell it here in NYC, then I'm sure Kelly did also...

    Please enter me for the giveaway - I absolutely love Vera Bradley and didn't know she did a line to raise funds for Breast Cancer.

    Before this blog I had never seen a picture of Kelly, and she was so beautiful and so serene looking.


  16. Thinking of lovely Kelly and you, too

  17. OH DUDE - Erin and My Mom could get along really well - they both LOVE carrot cake!

  18. so beautiful. i love hearing about kelly through you. x.