Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It falls right behind Christmas in the Best Days of the Year line up. But why do I celebrate Thanksgiving?
It’s not the turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie that draws me to it the most (although those things are pretty darn nice); it’s the fact that for one evening everything and everyone slows down and appreciates how important their family and friends are. One thing I missed terribly while I was away in Australia was spending time with my family. Whether that was grabbing a coffee with my dad at Tim Hortons, or watching a TV show with my brother, or having a long heart-to-heart chat with my mom, it was those moments of unconditional love that I felt the loss of the most. To me, nothing is more important than the bonds that I’ve created with my family and friends. Without them, their love, and their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I think it’s important to celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones every year. I know you’re going to say that we should show people how much we love them every day and not just one day a year, and I would agree with you. But I also think it’s nice to have a day dedicated to such a cause. A day that everyone reflects on the people in their lives, how they continue to make their lives wonderful, and how important you are to other people. A day where we can all slow down from our busy lives and share in a bountiful meal. A day where we can remember those we have lost but who still remain as loved today as they were when they were also sitting around our table. A day when we can remember how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful, strong, free country and remember how blessed we are to have everything that we do.
You may say that you reflect on these things and are thankful for them every day, and I think that’s amazing. It’s amazing to me because I know I go too fast. I’m constantly moving toward the next deadline or forcing myself through my next work shift (or even the entire day) because I’m too busy thinking about what’s ahead. I’m too busy moving toward achieving that next goal, or I’m obsessing over the pressing problems or negativity in my life. I know I don’t take the time every day to slow down and think about how lucky I am to be me, to have the people in my life that I do, and remind myself of the things I’ve already achieved. So while you may not need a specific day to remind yourself to be thankful for what you have, I really do. I need a day that forces me to stop, to think, to reflect, to celebrate the people in my life, and to forget for a moment all the negativity and problems. That is why I observe Thanksgiving.
Why do you (or don’t you) celebrate Thanksgiving? Leave me a comment below. I’m very interested in other people’s stories and thoughts, and I would love yours on this occasion.
One of the ways I show people that I love and am thankful for them is to feed them. I feel cooking and baking for someone is one of the best ways to show you care — you care about their nourishment, you care about what goes into their body, and you want to make sure they’re eating. While I was in Australia, I did all of the cooking for my boyfriend and I. I didn’t do it just because he couldn’t cook (okay, maybe that was a factor), but I did it mostly because I wanted to show him that I cared for him. He does so much for me that it was a way I could do something for him too. The same goes for my family and friends. When my mom has had a long day, I take over dinner. When my dad is upset, I deliver a batch of cookies. When a birthday rolls around, I’m jumping up and down volunteering to bake the cake. I love to cook and bake for people, and I hope that love and appreciation I feel for them comes through in my dishes.
This Thanksgiving, I wanted to bake the pie. Every year, my aunt usually buys and brings over the pie. It’s is lovely of her to do so, and those Thrifty’s pies are usually pretty on point. However, I wanted to make a homemade pumpkin pie this year, because a) I’d never made a pumpkin pie before, b) I wanted to give my own spin to it, and c) my mom’s going to be doing all the cooking and I wanted to contribute.
I knew homemade was better than store bought loooooong before I made this pie, but OMG. If anything is going to change your opinion that there is nothing better than homemade, this pumpkin pie will be the dessert to do it! I love pumpkin pie. All other pies pale in comparison, in my opinion. I love the spicy sweetness of the filling, I love the creamy texture, and I adore the flaky traditional pie crust. I wasn’t sure I wanted to mess with a classic. Why would I try and fix something that wasn’t even broken?
I’d tried pretzel crusts before. I had an unbelievable banoffee pie over in Australia (the only banana-based pie I’ve ever enjoyed) that had a pretzel crust, and I swear it’s that crust that made it so good. The salty crunch of the pretzels just elevated and enhanced the other flavors in the pie to new heights. It was a glorious combination. So this week I figured that I’d try it with pumpkin.
I didn’t want to make any changes to the filling. That was something that I knew if I messed with it, my family would probably serve my head instead of turkey for Thanksgiving. This pumpkin pie filling still tastes like the classic filling you have every year. It has a slight hint of maple from the syrup, but other than that it stays the same. It’s smooth, creamy, spiced pumpkin goodness that smells like a crisp autumn day. I’m not bragging when I say this filling is pure pumpkin pie perfection.
What I did change was the crust. Pastry annoys me. There, I said it. It can be so finicky to get right, and if you fail you end up with a soggy-bottomed, burnt-topped mess. Instead, I switched it out for a pecan and pretzel crust, and I can say that this is the best baking decision I have made to date. The pretzels add a bit of extra salt to enhance the flavors in the pie and a bit of an extra crunch that was sorely lacking from the traditional shortcrust. We all know pecans go with pumpkin, so I threw in a good amount of those for nuttiness and richness.
The combination of this crust with the classic pumpkin pie filling is outstanding. I can’t even begin to describe the joy I felt when I tasted this pie. It was a heroic moment, you guys. I have made pumpkin pie history here.
Do me a favor and try this pie for Thanksgiving? You won’t be disappointed, I promise you.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
If you make my Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Pretzel Crust recipe, be sure to take a photo and tag me @onlinefoodblog on Instagram or Twitter. I would love nothing more than to see your creations!
Crust Ingredients 1 cup finely ground salted pretzels Pie Filling Ingredients 2 cups pumpkin purée Crust Instructions Filling Instructions *I folded a rectangular piece of parchment twice (once lengthwise and once horizontal) to create a dip in the center. I found this didn't disrupt the crust at all and was very easy to remove later.
How do you make Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Pretzel Crust
½ cup finely ground pecan halves
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup raw cane sugar
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp corn starch
¾ cup raw cane sugar
¼ cup + 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
¾ cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
**The resting process is crucial to developing the distinct pumpkin pie flavors. If you have time, you can make the filling and refrigerate it overnight for even more flavor. 1-hour resting is the minimum.
You can make mini pies with the leftover filling! To do so, cut the crust recipe in half and bake in the same way in a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin. Pour the leftover pie filling onto the cooled crusts (you should have enough for at least three) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Voila! Cute, mini pies for the little mouths at your Thanksgiving table.
Try out our Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan Pretzel Crust recipe and post your results below in the comments…
1 cup finely ground salted pretzels
Pie Filling Ingredients
2 cups pumpkin purée
*I folded a rectangular piece of parchment twice (once lengthwise and once horizontal) to create a dip in the center. I found this didn't disrupt the crust at all and was very easy to remove later.