Travelling is an interesting thing.
I absolutely love it. I love the experiences it brings. The places I get to see. The people I meet along the way.
A few years ago, when I finished high school, I moved overseas for a year. I lived in Poland, and travelled whenever I could.
Then someone, I think it was my dad, suggested I go to New York and visit his second cousin.
I had met him before, a few times when I was very young, and remember him pinching my cheeks and buying me designer Barbies whenever he would come and visit.
Those two things made me love him (the Barbies) and hate him (the cheek pinching) at the same time.
Anyway, a few emails later and what do you know, I had flights booked to visit my dad’s second cousin and his family in Connecticut.
I was so nervous. I mean, I really didn’t know these people. I was going to be staying at their house. What if they didn’t like me?!
But I shouldn’t have worried. They were, and are, the most amazing family I have ever met. I fell in love with them instantly.
They welcomed this young, crazy teenager they didn’t know, who flew in late and without any luggage (it was left behind in Dublin. That was awesome), with open arms and hot soup.
They were kind and warm and caring. They introduced me to my entire extended family. They showed me around Connecticut and around New York. They took me shopping (a lot). And to eat (a lot a lot). And taught me how to carve pumpkins for Halloween.
We drank wine together, and laughed together, and went and saw an off Broadway show together. They drove me up to Canada, and took me to see Niagara Falls.
And one day, as it was the most beautiful fall, we went to an apple farm.
We picked apples. And drank hot apple cider. And bought pies from the farm. It was the first time (believe it or not) that I tried pecan pie. And pumpkin pie. We took home crates of apples, and I baked them into a huge apple pie.
It was the most ridiculous pie fest. We were eating pie for days.
I loved the pumpkin pie. I was fascinated by the fact that pumpkin was being used in a sweet way.
This year, as it is almost Thanksgiving in the States, and Maura was so so kind to send me a few cans of pumpkin puree (more on that and the other amazing goodies she sent me coming soon!), I baked my own pumpkin pie.
It is delicious, with its crumbly, nutty crust and cinnamon spiced filling. And it reminds me of my wonderful family in Connecticut. Happy Thanksgiving!
For the almond pie crust
350g plain flour
55g caster sugar (1/4 cup)
60g almond meal
A pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
40ml water, chilled (4 tbsp or so)
Put the flour, sugar, salt, almond meal and butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a food processor) and mix on a low speed until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolks and the cold water while the mixer is still running. Continue to mix until a dough forms. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
For the pumpkin filling
Adapted from A Sweet Simple Life.
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups condensed milk (395g can)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 16 oz can pumpkin puree
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar. Whisk in the condensed milk, spices, vanilla and salt. Finally, whisk in the pumpkin puree.
To make the pie, preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F), place a baking tray in the oven and butter a 9 inch pie dish.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 13 inches in diameter.
Lift it and place it into the pie dish, pressing it gently into the corners and up the sides. Pinch the edges of the dough together with your fingertips to create a fluted border.
Fill the crust with the pumpkin filling.
Place the pie in the oven, on the baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and line the edges of the crust with foil.
Reduce the oven to 180 C (350 F) and bake for a further 40 – 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean and the pastry is cooked.
Allow to cool before cutting. Serves 10.