Growing up, we always walked up the hill to my Grandparent's house to celebrate Thanksgiving. There were at least ten of us, sometimes more between the 'grownup's table' and the 'kid's table'. Grandma Purcell would cook the turkey dinner and Mom would bake the pies. Grandpop and Uncle Bill always had to have mincemeat pie (not a fave of mine...never even tasted it) and pumpkin pie (not a fave of mine.) My brother, sisters and I loved apple pie or cherry pie, which Mom would bake, too. Funny thing, the apple and cherry pies vanished, while there would only be two slivers of the mincemeat and pumpkin pie that had been eaten.
Life changes, and as we grow older, more of our loved ones pass from this life onto the next. Fewer loved ones were gathered 'round Grandma's table. A few years later, my grandparents and great aunt and uncle moved away, so it was just us (and my DH...my fiance' at the time) at our house. There was always a wonderful turkey dinner, but Mom never made Grandma's stuffing recipe...sorry Mom...hers was better. But there was pie!
Twenty years ago my Dad passed away two days before Thanksgiving and since then, it's been a bit rougher to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in my heart, missing him so much. Five years ago, Mom passed away. We have so much to celebrate in life and have to remember to hold those we love close to our hearts...where they will always be. Well...unless they visit us in our dreams, which Mom always said would be a visit from Heaven.
As I finish polishing the first book Mending the Duke's Pride, in my new series The Lords of Vice for Dragonblade Publishing, which is due in just a few days, I will be baking pies and preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. I started taking 'pie orders' in early September, because you can never have too many pies ;) This year everyone will be at our house a full table with nine of us.
Although this picture is from a few years ago, I seriously do bake at least four to six different pies every Thanksgiving...they do freeze well ;)
My Mom gave me this pie holder before she passed away and whenever I'm baking, and using her super-secret crust recipe, it's like she's there with me in the kitchen. So there are always tears of sadness mixed with joy which baffles the men in my life.
Top to bottom the pies are: Kentucky Derby Pie, Buttered Pecan Pie, Happy Apple Pie, and left to right: Happy Cherry Pie, Squash Pie and Buttermilk Pie.
One of my favorites isn't in the pic...it's Sweet Potato Praline Pie...I was the only one who requested it that year, and knew I'd eat the WHOLE pie given the opportunity, so I saved it for another day. Here's the recipe for Sweet Potato Praline Pie:
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C.H.’s Sweet Potato Praline Pie
This recipe is always a hit during the holidays. Use my mom’s pie crust recipe below and you can’t go wrong!
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 (23 oz.) can sweet potatoes in syrup, drained and mashed (about 2 cups)
Note: you can use baked sweet potatoes, but I’m usually short on time and go for the canned ones.
½ c whole milk + ½ c heavy cream
2 large eggs, beaten
(I like to double the topping, that way when the men in my life snitch the nuts off the top, I still have enough left to cover most of the pie and maybe a bit to make Pralines)
3 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup (or King’s syrup)
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp vanilla (optional)
¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup whipped cream
Prepare pie crust, heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients; blend well. Pour into pie crust lined pan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake an additional 25 minutes.
Meanwhile (during last five minutes of baking time), in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil over low heat. Reduce heat, simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Sprinkle nuts evenly over pie; drizzle with topping mixture.
Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with whipped cream.
The real trick is keeping your family away from the pie while it cools; mine can’t seem to keep their hands off the praline topping!
©C.H. Admirand 2002 revised 12/2/12
One 8 or 9” pie crust (recipe below)– remember the less you handle the crust the better, and don’t forget to use the ice water…it makes for the flakiest crust!
8 or 9” Two Crust Pie
2/3 plus 2 tbsp Crisco
2 cups all purpose flour (Hecker’s Unbleached)
1 tsp salt
4 to 5 tbsp ice water
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles resemble the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, one tbsp at a time, toss with a fork until the flour is moistened and pastry sticks together. Gather pastry into a ball; (for 2 crust pie, cut in half) shape (one half at a time) into flattened round on a lightly floured board…I love using a marble board and roller…the cool stone makes rolling it out much easier. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than your pie tin so you can have a nice fluted crust.
© C.H. Admirand 2002
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