Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Fever

   Fall fever around my house is in full swing. For my husband, fall fever can primarily be summed up with one word: football, but for me it is the particular beauty, sounds, and scents that are reminiscent of autumn. It has become my favorite time of the year. I am not a big fan of winter, in fact the only redemptive thing about it in my mind is that it is the precursor to spring; but give me a beautiful fall day and I am happy. No humidity. Trees resplendent in their array of color. The sound of leaves crunching underfoot. Pumpkins. The scents of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and dried rosemary. Mums in containers by the front door. An early morning fire crackling in the porch fireplace and a steaming cup of coffee in my hands. Open doors and open windows. Blankets and quilts tucked on the back of chairs. Tiny gourds that you can only find at this season in odd shapes and sizes. Indian corn. And of course, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin spread. Why do my favorite things almost always involve food?!
    Hard to believe with the size of our tribe, that I have raised a family who does NOT like pumpkin pie. I used to make a variation of this recipe for my father-in-law since he and I were the only ones who could not stomach a fall celebration without a taste of pumpkin pie. It's a little more work than your average pie, but the crust and the topping make it special and worth your while. And since there is no longer a pumpkin shortage, make more than one.

Jimmy's Praline Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1Tbsp all-purpose flour (I only use White Lily)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
slightly more than a pinch of salt
1 cup of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
   1 9" pie crust (Unless you are a bake-it-from-scratch person, I use the Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust)
  1/2 cup ground pecans (use food processor to make it like coarse meal)
  3 Tbsp butter softened (I nevah evah use margarine; unsalted butter is a must)
  3 Tbsp dark brown sugar

   Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take out Pillsbury pie crust and let come to room temperature. Assemble other ingredients in the meantime. Press Pillsbury crust into bottom of 9" pie plate (glass is preferred to non-stick). Grind pecans in food processor to a meal-like texture. Add butter and brown sugar to food processor to make a paste. Press firmly into the bottom (not the sides) of the pie crust.
   In a large bowl combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt; add pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla. Beat eggs in a separate bowl until frothy and then add to the pumpkin mixture, combining with a spoon until eggs are incorporated. Do not mix this to death.
   Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake 15 mins. at 425 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake 15 additional minutes. While this is baking, combine coarsely chopped pecans (see Praline topping below) brown sugar and butter and sprinkle on top of the pie when the second 15 mins. are up and bake 15-20 minutes more until pie is set. You may have to adjust the cooking time based upon your oven so start checking after the 40 min. mark.
Praline Topping:
   1/2 cup chopped pecans (do not grind the topping in the food processor; use your knife for a coarse chop)
   2 Tbsp butter, softened (remember the admonition above about using only unsalted butter)
   2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
      Mix well and add to top of pie 15 minutes before cooking time is up and center of pie is set.
Garnish with unsweetened whipping creme (I prefer the real stuff). Absolutely no Cool Whip for me!


  1. I'm with you on the love of fall, but not the love of pumpkin pie. Every time I've had pumpkin pie, I've thought, "Why bother?" Pies just don't do it for me. :-)

    (Although I will say the praline topping just might get me to try this, which would delight my husband and brother-in-law since they like pumpkin pie!)

  2. I can't believe I sat and read every word of that recipe - I don't cook!! It sounds yummy. But I hope WordGirl is right about trying it. Maybe she will try it while I'm in Nashville:)

  3. you made my tummy job well done! i am writing this down for the next run to the grocery. And i am with you about it..but, my,my,my winter makes me crave some serotonin!!!


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