Homegrown, Homemade Pumpkin Pies

Reader Contribution by Erik Thiel
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Homegrown, homemade pumpkin pies are becoming the starting event to a social, seasonal, joy-binge of shared holiday moments. This year we turned 8 winter luxury pumpkins into pumpkin pie mix with one toaster oven, two afternoons, and a lot-a-bit-of love.

Last year was the first year we grew winter luxury pumpkins and found a vegan pumpkin pie recipe which involved cashews and lemons. The way the subtle, yet sweet hint of lemon blended with the soaked cashews, spices, and homegrown pumpkin forced a smile across my face through a pulse-like charge experienced in my taste buds and acknowledged by my soul. I was hooked.

The winter luxury squash was purchased from the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE). Introduced in 1893 by Johnson and Stokes in Philadelphia, according to the SSE, and residing in northeast Pennsylvania myself, I thought it sounded like a perfect fit for our garden. With one pumpkin averaging two pies, mixed with a short shelf life, this squash variety is making its way into Thanksgiving tradition.

We started seeds in containers the last week of May, knowing we would only have enough room in the garden to grow one plant. The rest of them was given to my Dad to grow at his house near a pre-existing compost site. With a small harvest taking place this season in our garden, due to an attack coordinated by the squash vine borers, I feel grateful my Dad took the time to grow all these pumpkins.

I believe this feeling of gratitude along with the teamwork that took place in growing these pumpkins only adds to the amount of life-giving energy they are capable of transmitting. Although love cannot be measured in food under nutritional information like amino acids or listed on the ingredient list like corn by-products, it is certainly present in thought-form.

And like Masaru Emoto, who has shown how our negative and positive thoughts can change the appearance of frozen water crystals from ugly to beautiful by capturing them in photographs under a microscope, these pumpkins are beautiful whole as well as broken down to microscopic molecular levels.

However, unlike measurable nutrients which rapidly decrease through each stage of processing, from the very first cut to the last stages of baking, love can only be increased each step of the way.

After washing them all down, we cut two in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked the first one, cut side down in water, until the fork slid through the skin. Looking at the photo of all the fork stab-marks makes me wonder if some primitive form of nature came out of me that my vegan diet may restrict. Kill! Kill! Kill! At least it’s out.

We then blended the baked pumpkin flesh in the high-speed blender as a cycle began to form. Cut a pumpkin, scoop a pumpkin, bake a pumpkin, blend a pumpkin, cut a pumpkin, scoop a pumpkin, bake a pumpkin, blend a pumpkin … It may be hard to say that 10 times fast in-a-row, but with one toaster oven, fast is eliminated from all forms of vocabulary. In between this cycle, we rinsed off the seeds and dried them to save.

Once we had enough measurable portions of pumpkin puree, my girlfriend made a spice mix of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon and mixed it in with the addition of sugar, creating a whirlwind of sandy orange becoming a caramel brown sugar-color, each ingredient infusing more love as forceful as the earth’s natural elements.

Love is necessary for good health, I believe. And life on a daily basis can sometimes wear the love right out of me. Especially at the end of the landscaping season when work picks back up and the trees drop their leaves seemingly all at once. Many people like full fall clean-ups on their property right before Thanksgiving and the snow flurries usually start to make an appearance, leaving many guys at the shop working under lights hooking up the snow equipment.

Balancing some of that with classes that pick-up pace with snowball effect-like momentum has me most thankful to be spending time with close friends this Thanksgiving, with whom I have been blessed to cross paths with in this vast universe. Our annual vegan/vegetarian/carnivore celebrations are just as infinitely colossal as the universe and each year boundaries are pushed, explored, and experienced.

Once the pumpkin pie mix was complete, we had four 7-cup storage containers mostly filled. Two pies were made right away and the 4 containers were stored in the freezer. Two-of-the-four are now defrosted in our fridge waiting to be made into pumpkin pies, first for our neighbors, then my Dad and brother, then for our friends.

With the addition of lemon juice, soaked cashews, vegan cream cheese, and more cinnamon, the pie mix gets blended, added to the pie crusts, and baked. Last year when we brought a pie to my Dad’s house, a young guest took a quick look when asked if she would like a slice. An exaggerated “ewww,” followed by a child yucky face was her reply.

I remember as a kid the only pumpkin pies I liked were “the cheap ones,” as I would tell my Mom each year. Knowing me, I probably had a liking for high-fructose corn syrup. And lots of whipped cream.

How the season’s change.

I just hope these pumpkin pies continue to grow on family and friends for seasons to come, delivering love in high doses, increasing each time.

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