November 21, 2009






     CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is awarding a monthly prize to the reader making the most comments at To be eligible for the prize, comment on any post. The more comments you post, the greater chance you have of being the winner.

     The first prize, to be announced on December 3, 2009, will be awarded to the reader who made the most comments on during November.

     The winner will be notified by E-mail. In the event of a tie, a name will be drawn. Winners will be listed on this page. 

     Thank you for your loyalty to my writing site.      Carolyn C. Holland


     Will Mother Nature’s 2008 and 2009 weather conditions deny many Americans their traditional pumpkin pie? If so, the holiday dinner tables will look more like that of the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

     The menu for fifty-three immigrants who watched half of their group die of malnourishment and disease, and the ninety Indians, all of whom attended that three-day feast, didn’t have pumpkin pie on their menu. It was an improbable dessert because they lacked baking ovens, and, just as importantly, they likely lacked the ingredients: flour and sugar.

     The party-goers probably did enjoy pumpkin. However, the best method of preparing pumpkin was boiling.    

     I’m thankful to say that the Thanksgiving table of the Southwestern Pennsylvania branch of the Edwin and Gertrude Holland family tree will be laden with a plentiful supply of pumpkin pie.

     The pie baker of the family, Monte Holland, hasn’t relied on store-bought, canned pumpkin for decades. No siree. This man makes his pumpkin pies from scratch. All of it—pie crust and filling.

     Monte began his pumpkin pie escapades when we moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1985. What inspired him is unknown. Perhaps he didn’t want to waste the autumn pumpkins sitting around decorating our home.

     He took the pumpkins, boiled them, and threw them into the blender, skin and all. The tiny bright orange flecks in the resultant puree added character and taste to the resultant dessert.

     He decided the crust shouldn’t be store-bought. It had to be his own. I pointed him to the Egg Pastry recipe in the Farmer Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook, and after a few trials he became a competent pie crust baker.

 View photos by clicking on the links:

     After Monte experimented with various pumpkin pie filling recipes, he settled for one titled Tawny Pumpkin Pie, a recipe in the above-named cookbook.

     Once he became competent, he decided to make a pumpkin pie to deliver to each family in Emmanuel United Methodist Church, in which he was the pastor. This was followed by his making pumpkin pies to donate to the church dinners.

     When he was transferred to Jamestown and State Line United Methodist Churches in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, he endeared himself to church families by taking them a pumpkin pie, and by making pumpkin pies for their chicken biscuit dinners.

     He didn’t make pumpkin pies for the families at Wesley United Methodist Church in Connellsville—the congregation was quite a bit larger. But he directed them in making pumpkin pies in the church kitchen when they had their dinners.

     Through the years, Monte made pumpkin pies for our Thanksgiving dinner table.

     A few years ago we accidentally left some pumpkin custard—excess pie filling minus the pie crust, baked in a casserole dish—on the kitchen counter. About a fourth of it was gone in the morning. When no one would ‘fess up to snitching it, we became suspicious. We put the dish in front of our cat, Honey. She lapped it up ambitiously.  THE SNITTY CAT LIKES PUMPKIN PIE?

To view photos, click on:

     It’s that time of year again. At the moment, we have two pumpkins decorating our home. Monte will turn them into pumpkin pie filling. What he doesn’t use in the pies he will freeze in two-cup allotments, enabling the family to enjoy pumpkin pie throughout the years.

     Needless to say, through the years our book has become stained and flour-covered. Its binding is broken, and the pages have become loose, falling out if we do not handle the book carefully.

     Don’t despair if you are live in an region that is short of pumpkins this year. Simply take your holiday decorations and turn them into a better tasting pumpkin pie filling. (NOTE: Although I’ve read that only certain types of pumpkins can be used for the pie filling, Monte has used all types of pumpkin equally well, including Lunar Pumpkins. To view that post click on Ghostly white pumpkins of the Lunar variety)

POST LOG: Curt Colaianne, president of Dainty Pastry in Latrobe (PA) told the Tribune-Review Newspaper: “A lot of us bakers have found a lot of times fresh pumpkin doesn’t give you as good a set and it doesn’t taste as good unless it’s been around for about a year.”

     Monte’s response to that is that it depends on the amount of moisture for the setting. If the moisture is right, the pumpkin pie filling sets just fine. And the taste—well, he claims not to be a connoisseur, but according to my daughter Sandy,everyone looks forward to his pies. In fact, Michele gets upset if he makes a pie and she doesn’t get any.

     Below is the recipe for the pies.  The crust and the pie filling recipes are from the Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook.


Cut into the pumpkin and scrape out the insides (prep the seeds for baking) and remove the stem and opposite end. Boil until soft. Let cool slightly. Place the pieces in the blender until pureed. (NOTE: If you do not want to include the skin, peel the skin off the pumpkin after it’s cooled down.)


2 c. sifted flour

1 tsp. salt

 2/3 c. vegetable shortening

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tblsp. cold water

2 tsp. lemon juice

     Sift flour with salt into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until particles are the size of small peas.

     Combine egg, water and lemon juice.  Sprinkle over dry ingredients, tossing and stirring with fork until mixture is moist enough to hold together.

     Divide in half; shape into two flat balls. Roll. Makes 1 (8” or 9”) 2-crust pie.


A Farm Journal 5-star special from our Country Cookbook.

Unbaked 9” pie shell

1 ¼ c. cooked (or canned pumpkin)

¾ c. sugar

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. flour

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 c. evaporated milk

2 tblsp. water (for home prepared pumpkin, use half or less of this amount)

½ tsp. vanilla

     Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and flour in mixing bowl.

     Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water and vanilla; mix. Pour into pie shell.

     Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F.) 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.





The Thanksgiving Baby

To read a post about the birthmother in THE THANKSGIVING TURKEY and The Thanksgiving Baby:



  1. A Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA) article stated on November 21st that “A great pumpkin shortage hasn’t reared its head locally, but the impact could be felt next year.”

    Comment by carolyncholland — November 21, 2009 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  2. The pie recipe sounds yummy! I am a sucker for pie at Thanksgiving. Well, any holiday will do, actually. I love them for breakfast!
    I have homemade vanilla, maybe I’ll send Monte some for his pies. It probably won’t make it until after Thanksgiving, though.

    Comment by Jane Driver — November 23, 2009 @ 11:42 am | Reply

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