Recipe: How to make Pumpkin Pie

Some people love the holidays because of the family get-togethers, the presents, the festivities.

I like it for the pumpkin pie.

This year at Thanksgiving the children couldn’t take their eyes off of this pie from the minute I brought it in the door.  They were fascinated by the little pumpkin decorations and the richer color of this pie next to its store-bought cousin. No one even sliced up the store bought pie, but this pumpkin pie was immediately devoured–first by the children, then the adults.

Then one of the soldiers at the gathering came up to me, mouth full of pie, and named me the “Goddess of Pie Crusts.” I think that meant he liked it. The kids’ faces were smeared with various shades of orange–the international sign of good food.

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is so easy you’ll be ashamed you ever bought it frozen or from a grocery bakery.

And it’s good. I mean gooooooooooood.

This is a blue-ribbon winning recipe that I was fortunate enough to get in a pie making class years ago at Rudy’s a Cook’s Paradise in Twin Falls, Idaho. The class is a staple in the area, taught by Dr. Laura Fall-Sutton who paid her way through medical school by baking. After an evening with her, and four years of baking and selling these pies myself, it is easy to see how she did it.


1.5 cup cooked or canned pumpkin (about 1 can)

1/4 cup light corn syrup–OR–maple syrup

2 eggs

1/2cup evaporated milk (save the rest for later in the recipe)

2TBSP butter

1/2 cup HOT milk

1/2cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon’

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4tsp ginger

1/8 tsp cloves

1 unbaked pie shell (below)


1 1/4 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1TBSP sugar

1/3 cup butter flavored shortening (Crisco)

4 or 5 TBSP ice water


Prep the crust first by mixing dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender (cutter) cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprink 1 TBSP water over part of mix and toss gently with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of bowl and repeat with another TBSP of water until all dough is moistened. Form in to ball. Refrigerate until ready to roll out (at least 5 minutes).

I prefer a marble rolling pin and I keep it in the fridge to keep it cold. The marble holds the cool temperature longer and more evenly than other materials seem to. Cool temps help keep the dough from sticking and make it easier to handle.

Roll out dough on slightly floured parchment paper. Place the pie plate on top of the rolled out dough, then flip. Doing it this way minimizes breakage.

Then peel off the parchment paper and crimp the edges up high, trimming the excess to use for decorations later. To crimp, wet your fingers and pinch with your thumb and two fingers.

After prepping the pie plate, in a medium bowl combine pumpkin, syrup, eggs and evaporated milk.

Meanwhile, Stir butter in to hot milk.

Combine the brown sugar, salt and spices, mixing until well blended.

Combine all three mixtures.

Pour in to pastry-lined pie plate.

Use the scraps to create decorations, if you want.

Bake in hot oven at 425* fir 15 minutes with protector, then reduce heat to 350* and bake about 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool to room temp before serving.

Optional: in the last 10 minutes or so, brush on a maple glaze made of maple syrup and powdered sugar.


Recipe: Marguerite’s Rosettes

Rosettes–Crispy little pieces of heaven

I got this recipe last year from a little old Norwegian grandma at a Sons of Norway heritage baking workshop in the DC-area. She wrote it down from memory in that shaky penmanship that comes with age.

Original recipe, in original, authentic Norwegian Grandma Handwriting.

Even though we’ve never met before and will never meet again, we spent an afternoon together, making rosettes and krumkake and sandbakkels. For me, it was pure heaven, getting a crash-course in making the Scandinavian holiday treats I grew up eating with the Norwegian grandma I never had (I’m not actually Norwegian–or even Scandinavian– at all. But you already knew that.)

Then Thursday, while driving back from having a “Thanksgiving Lunch” with Logan at his school, I stopped in to a little antique store in a teeny town. I found a gem: a vintage, cast-iron rosette set in its original box.

Twelve dollars. Best twelve dollars I ever spent.

So this weekend I scrubbed those “new” rosette irons and my “old” rosette irons, turned on the electric skillet and filled ‘er up with oil. I’m making Marguerite’s Rosettes.



2 eggs

1/4tsp Salt

1C flour

1tsp Sugar

1 C canned milk (regular is fine, too, but canned is what her recipe calls for because it stands up better in the heat of the oil; I use a mix of organic non-fat milk and a few tablespoons of organic half and half.)


Mmmm Farm Fresh Organic Eggs

Mix eggs and milk first. Add sugar. In a different bowl, mix salt and flour. Add dry mix to the wet and mix well in to a batter.

Turn electric skillet on to 350 and fill  to about 1.5-2″ or so deep in vegetable oil. This will take about 1.5 standard containers of oil.

Connect irons to prongs and handles and place irons in skillet to heat up. Once the oil is at 350, take iron out for about five or ten seconds to cool off just a smidge. If the iron is too hot, the batter wont stick to it. If the iron is too cool, it wont stick at all, either.

My heated butterfly rosette iron being dipped 3/4 of the way in to the batter

Dip the iron in the batter, covering it about 3/4 of the way on the sides. If the batter covers the entire iron it will not come off in the oil.

Butterfly rosette beginning to “bloom” away from the iron

Submerge the dipped iron in the oil but don’t let it touch the bottom. The batter will bubble and the rosette will begin to seperate from the iron or “bloom.” As the rosette begins to bloom, give it a slight shake to set it free from the iron.


If the rosette gets stuck on the iron, take a fork and help it off. Let the rosette cook in the oil for a minute and then flip it so the other side can cook. Let it cook  until it is light brown, then remove from oil and place on paper towels.

Metal spatula, metal tongs and/or a spider are all good ideas…in fact, I use our BBQ equipment for Rosette equipment.

You can do several rosettes at a time–I was able to fit about six easily at a time. Just be sure to place the irons back in the oil when you aren’t using them so they stay warm…but again, make sure and take the iron out for a couple seconds before using it again so it has a chance to cool off just a little bit.

Irons staying warm in the oil while rosettes cook

The first one will never turn out right; it is a sacrifice to the norse gods, Marguerite said. And she’s right; it takes a few tries to get the rhythm going–dip, place in oil, bloom, shake loose, dip in batter again, back in the oil, bloom, shake loose, repeat…Honestly, though, I think about one in every three won’t turn out–the irons will be too hot and the design just wont stick, or it will over cook or get stuck on the iron…and if you are using the aluminum rosette irons instead of cast iron ones, you’ve got an even bigger challenge because they don’t hold the temperature as evenly and are even less likely to stick correctly. It is possible; just takes more patience.

Cooling, drying and tempting…

So I usually make a double batch; it seems to take about an entire batch before you get the rhythm down…but don’t worry… The recipe makes several dozen and even the broken ones still taste great.

Mmmmmm Broken Rosettes…nom nom nom

Want some? This isn’t even close to half of them.

Once finished, dust the rosettes with powdered sugar and enjoy.


Special Delivery

Have your 6-year-old Taste Tester walk a plate over to your elderly neighbor to thank him for plowing your garden spot earlier this week before the ground freezes…

Neighbor Delford is in for a treat.

Yes. Do that. That way you can “sample” a few before the kiddo sees you…you know, just to make sure they turned out OK.

Recipe: Chili (with a little kick…like foosball-little kinda kick)

Mid-November is crock pot season so I’ve been breaking out the Little Appliance That Could and making lots of stews and casseroles. Tonight I made some slightly more than mild chili.

Forget apple pie, it doesn’t get more American than Chili. Created in San Antonio in the 1800s, the ingredients–beef, peppers, salt–were dried and bound in to bricks to be easily boiled and consumed by cowboys over campfires. So it makes sense, then, that beef was the original star of this dish: It was readily available and cheap in southern Texas.

Chili is one of those foods that everyone has an opinion on, though. It evolved based on cheap ingredients and geography. For true fanatics (Texans), chili is meat-based and doesn’t contain beans. Or tomatoes. Ever. For Louisville, it not only contains beans, it also includes spaghetti noodles and is served with toast and peanut butter. For me? Beans are optional, pasta is banned… and peanut butter? Are you kidding me?

Here is how I like my chili; Matt ate three bowls of it for dinner tonight. It is that good. Makes about 8-10 servings…or if you’re like Matt and have three bowls for a serving, I guess it makes 2.5 servings…

Top with nothing–or sour cream and cheddar. Your call. Serve with freshly made corn muffins topped with local (REAL) honey.

Crock Pot Chili


2lbs ground beef

4tbsp salted butter  Use Earth Balance to make this dairy-free

1-2 cans pinto, kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed (or soak overnight 2/3cup dried beans per can you want to substitute)…or just leave ’em out. You wont hurt my feelings.

1.5-2 large onions, diced

2 cans (15oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies with liquid

1 can (15/16 oz) tomato sauce

3 cups water

2TBSP chili powder

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

8 cloves minced garlic


Grease a 5-6qt slow cooker. Saute the onion in the butter; brown the ground beef. Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours (add additional water if you plan to cook closer to 8 hours or longer).

Adventures of Logan: Liberace Turkey wants MORE SPARKLES!

In 30 years, when someone asks me if my son has always been a manly-man, I will show them this:

Gobble, Gobble, Gold and Glitter!

Logan turned an unsuspecting black and white Xerox of a turkey into Liberace.

And I think it is fabulous.

In case you can’t make out the details, let me break it down for you:

The assignment was to “decorate” the turkey in any way he liked. The assignment sheet suggested using cereal or dried noodles. Or buttons.

But Logan could do better than that. Mommy has an entire craft room, after all, full of all kinds of whacky stuff just waiting for the opportunity to be glued to a Xeroxed turkey. It is the high point in the lives of all craft objects, really.

So Logan looked at that turkey. He studied it. He told me he wanted to paint it, then add “sparkles.”


Logan picked out the colors, then custom-mixed in glitter to the paint.

We waited for it to dry, then he showed me where to put the glue so he could put on giant, matching sequins.

Then he asked me to outline the neck, waddle, feet and bottom feathers so he could sprinkle matching glitter on to them.

Then he said, “It needs MORE SPARKLES!” and proceeded to paint the turkey in a clear glitter paint.

I had to talk Logan out of also using feathers.