Arnie stepped into our mobile home amid a swirl of blustery November wind. My husband of seven months hugged and kissed me. His coat felt cold and smelled of the outdoors. His new mustache tickled my lip. He said, “I’m taking a shower before we sit down to eat.”
I nodded, stepped into the kitchen and began to set the table. From the window, I could see a few snow flurries falling to our still bare lawn and childishly wished for more to fall.
From the bathroom down the hall, I heard the water in the shower splashing. An intense feeling of cozy happiness washed over me. I was in a warm house. The man I loved was home and showering. I had food baking in the oven along with a surprise dessert. I was making my very first pumpkin pie.
Arnie’s shower must have moisturized the air in our house because the windows were slightly steamy by the time he returned to the kitchen. The pie was cooling on the counter. For some reason it didn’t look like Mom’s pumpkin pies. It was dark in color and the surface wasn’t smooth.
When it came time for me to cut the pie, I tasted it before giving any to my new husband. It tasted like mud! Dismayed and disappointed, I shoved it to the backside of the kitchen counter. What had I done wrong?
Apple and cherry pie fillings from the can are dumped just as they are into a pie shell. When I bought a can labeled ‘pumpkin pie filling’, I thought you did the same thing. It took me a long time before I realized that I was supposed to add eggs, milk, sugar and spices.
Fifteen years passed before I decided to try making another pumpkin pie. My mother was getting older and I was thinking about taking over hosting the Thanksgiving meal. Also, I had treat-loving children, so one chilly November evening I decided to try the crazy new pumpkin pie recipe that Mom had given me.
As I worked, Niki, my seven-year-old and Tammie, my three-year-old were playing in the kitchen to keep me company and to beg for chocolate chips. Tammie was getting around and managing beautifully despite the fact that she’d been born with elbow length arms and was wearing leg braces that prevented her knees from bending after she’d had bilateral knee surgery.
Mom’s recipe for pumpkin pie called for three cups of cooked carrots, milk, eggs, flour, sugar and spices. I smiled as I remembered the mistake I had made when I baked my first pumpkin pie. Pouring the blended, golden-colored mixture into the pie shell as the children watched, I knew this pie would taste delicious.
The pie came out of the oven looking worthy to be photographed for the front page of a woman’s magazine. I reverently placed it on the middle of the dining room table to cool. My children continued to play around at my feet in the kitchen as I washed dishes and cleaned countertops.
When my work was finished, I realized that the house was very chilly. The fire in the furnace must have died down and was in need of having more logs of wood piled onto the red-hot embers. I told Niki and Tammie to go into the living room to play while I took care of the furnace.
I stayed in the basement longer than I had intended. After filling the furnace I transferred wet clothing from the washer to the dryer. Then I took meat from the freezer. When I stepped back into the dining room, I was surprised. Three-year-old Tammie was on her belly in the middle of the dining room table with her fingers in the pie. How had she managed to do this?
I saw one of the chairs pulled out from under the table. Tammie must have struggled and worked very hard to get into this mischief. I said with a laugh, “I don’t have a handicapped child. I have an inconvenienced child! She’ll be able to do whatever she wants to do in life, but she’ll have to work harder at it than everyone else!”
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Three cups of carrots cut and cooked until tender.
Put in the blender along with:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
Pour blended mixture into raw crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 325 for 40 minutes.
Making this pie is no inconvenience, but be sure not to tell your Thanksgiving dinner guests that it was made with carrots. If they know, they will claim they can taste that it was made with carrots and not pumpkin.