Pumpkin Pie and Martha Stewart

Many year’s ago, pre-incarceration, I went through a Martha Stewart phase. No one knew this secret about me. I was…a closet Martha fan. Domesticity was frowned upon by Women’s Lib groups. I owned all Martha’s books and secretly subscribed to Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I was a full-time stay at home Mom. What else was I suppose to do? Play tennis? Right… As soon as the kids were in school, I would quickly complete a chore or two maybe run an errand and by 10am I would rush to my favorite chair and cozy up with a cup of tea, obviously sipped from fine china as only Martha would do.  I would watch for one solid hour all that Martha could perform from digging in the dirt, whipping up some dessert, to sewing slip covers for her divan located inside the alcove of the widow’s walk atop her home at Turkey Hill. I was green with envy over her garden and loved her oh so organized kitchen and pantry. One must understand my thought process. I didn’t watch soap operas so I justified my daily dose of Martha Stewart as though I was watching a “How To” program on PBS.

While Julia Child was actually my mentor in the kitchen, it was Martha Stewart who gave reason to my existence. I soon began collecting things like…butter pats, knife rests, salt and pepper wells with the tiniest of spoons to scoop the seasonings out. I couldn’t wait to have the extended family in for that old-fashioned holiday dinner. I had so many decorations, it would take weeks to set up and months to take down. I started early, cooking and baking, preparing for the big feast. I was giddy with Christmas music, singing along with Johnnie Mathis, The Carpenter’s and Bing Crosby.

I copied a recipe for pumpkin pie from Martha’s magazine. Never before had I seen pie made from pumpkins. Even as far back as my grandmother. I only remember pie from a can. Who knew? Martha made it look so easy. Just cut the pie pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, bake in the oven, scoop the meaty part out into a bowl, purée it and add a host of ingredients to the now cooked, puréed pumpkin and bake it again. “and while the pie is baking, don’t forget to roast the seeds for a delicious, fun snack for the children”.

A few weeks ago was my son and daughter’s birthday and they asked for pumpkin pie. At that time, pie pumpkins were not in the store so I opted for the can of pumpkin pie mix. But this week, I happened upon the pie pumpkins and decided to re-live the old days and bake pumpkin pie the Martha Stewart way. Suddenly, the memories began flooding my mind when I took the knife and started to cut into the first pumpkin. It was gripping to say the least. Scooping the interior stringy junk was no better…and those seeds. Ugh! I flossed, rinsed with mouthwash and an hour later, those crappy little kernels were still rolling around my mouth.

Despite my efforts, I was determined to make this pie from scratch only I discovered I had not bought pie shells and since pastry and I don’t get along well, I decided on pumpkin custard.

Note the Gerber spoons.  These small dishes are for my grandsons.  They told me to write that the custard was delicious.

So here is my take…I wasn’t able to locate Martha’s recipe unless I googled it but I did find deep in a box my own recipe for whatever my reason was for not repeating Martha’s recipe. There must have been something she included in the ingredients list that didn’t suit me. As I do with anyone’s recipe, I generally alter to suit my needs or taste.

In the end, I do remember that my children preferred the pie mix from a can over my recipe from scratch. I was satisfied with that. The same amount of ingredients come with the can as they do with the pumpkins. While I consider it important to experience “from scratch”, I  think, when the subject tastes near the same with less work, go for it. After all, Martha only sleeps four hours a night. She has the time, the help and the money to not only grow the pumpkins, but send employees out to harvest the pumpkins and someone to bake the pumpkin pie or in her case pies for all the people she forces to sit at her table in front of the camera.

My variation of pumpkin “custard” from scratch.

Preheat oven to 425° F

Two pie pumpkins which lends three (3) cups pumpkin mixture
One cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves *A substitute for spices is 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten
12 oz. Can of Evaporated Milk

Cut in half the pumpkins. Clean out seeds and stringy material, using an ice cream scoop if you have one, Place halved pumpkins on cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil on inside pumpkin to moisten. Bake in the oven for approximately one hour. Check each half with a fork for tenderness and remove any halves done.
Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by smoothing butter on interior sides and bottom.
Scoop out pumpkin from outer shell and place in a bowl or blender. Purée using a hand mixer or the blender. If you used a blender pour mixture into a bowl.
Add dry ingredients. *Note substitute for cinnamon, cloves and ginger.
Stir by hand to blend dry and wet ingredients.
Add vanilla, beaten eggs and evaporated milk, stirring as you add same.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F then reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45-50 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Whip Cream

Pour a half pint container of Heavy Whipping Cream into a mixer. Whip on high-speed. When beginning to solidify, add 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Continue whipping until peaks form.

Spoon custard into a bowl, top with whip cream and sprinkle cinnamon over whip cream.


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About Pam Rauber

Photographer, Writer, Home Chef.
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