Carrie Sanford/for Peninsula Daily News                                Carrie Sanford and her daughter, Abby, prepare pies together in 2014.

Carrie Sanford/for Peninsula Daily News Carrie Sanford and her daughter, Abby, prepare pies together in 2014.

PENINSULA KITCHEN: ‘Tis the season for pie recipes

IT’S NEARING THANKSGIVING, and, as has been the case every other year during my marriage, it’s my turn to host the family meal in our tiny home.

After several stressful and hilarious attempts throughout the years, I’ve given up on cooking turkey and plan to make something with salmon as our main dish.

I’ll probably even buck the need for stuffing.

No matter what’s on the table this year, I will never be forgiven by my family if I do not include a tray of roasted roots and a pumpkin pie.

A few years ago, a friend clued us into the best tip for Thanksgiving eatery ever: Take yourself to the Port Angeles Farmers Market and purchase a long pie pumpkin from Christie Johnston at Johnston Farms.

Long pie pumpkins are just that: long instead of round.

At first glance, you might think it’s a very large summer squash, but when you crack into it, you’ll find gorgeous orange, winter squash flesh.

It is the sweetest pumpkin I’ve ever tasted.

Get one, cook it, puree it and make your pie out of it.

I promise. It makes the best pie I’ve ever eaten.

If you can’t get your hands on a Johnston Farms pumpkin, definitely find a local pie pumpkin and make your own puree.

You can bake down a pumpkin and make the puree anytime between now and Thanksgiving and store it in your freezer.

Extra puree is wonderful for soups or as an added bonus in chili or in your mashed potatoes.

The canned stuff just isn’t the same.

I am thankful for local and organic foods, our sweet community and our dear and beloved family, including those we’ve chosen as family members.

Enjoy the season, friends.

Long pie pumpkin and gingersnap pie, recipes adapted from Alton Brown

Crust:

6 ounces gingersnap cookies

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 ounce unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

16 ounces pumpkin puree (recipe follows)

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin Puree:

1 (4- to 6-pound) baking pumpkin

Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, process gingersnaps, brown sugar and ginger in a food processor or blender until the cookies are fine crumbs.

Drizzle the butter into the crumb mixture and pulse just a few times until it’s combined.

In a 9-inch pie dish, press the crust mixture into the bottom, up the sides and just over the lip.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool crust at least 10 minutes before moving on to the next steps.

While the crust bakes, make the filling.

In a saucepan, bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.

Stir and return the mixture to a simmer.

Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the brown sugar, eggs and yolk until smooth in a large bowl.

Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour the prepared filling into the warm pie crust and bake on the cookie sheet until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes.

Place your pie on a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 2 hours before eating.

You can cover in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for a few days before eating it.

In fact, I’ve found it’s best after a day and that way you can save room in your oven on Thanksgiving Day for the main characters.

To make the pumpkin puree, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy bits.

If you’re using a long pie pumpkin, cut it long-ways.

Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Roast until a fork or small knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes.

Test in several places to make certain it’s done.

Remove from the oven and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour.

Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a food processor.

Process until the flesh is smooth, three to four minutes.

Store in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.

________

Carrie Sanford, who shares the Peninsula Kitchen column with Betsy Wharton, is a mother, wife, educator, artist, activist and cook.

She writes the newsletter for Salt Creek Farm in Joyce during the growing season and volunteers with nonprofits and schools in Port Angeles, where she lives with her husband, Tom Sanford, and their daughter, Abby.

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