giving thanks and pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie is a non-starter in our household.

Jason’s not a huge fan, but it could be its own food group as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t be mistaken though. I’m not a “pumpkin spiced” everything kind of person, but give me a homemade pumpkin pie or a loaf of pumpkin bread, and I am a goner. [Correction… that baked good is a goner.]

We have yet to establish our own Thanksgiving traditions — opting each year to either travel to family or travel abroad — but we know that when we do, homemade pumpkin pie will be a part of the menu. Heck, it’s a part of the menu now, and we haven’t even hosted our own Thanksgiving dinner!

Case in point: we traveled to my hometown of Wichita, Kansas for the festivities this year, and you better believe that we brought the pumpkin pie with us even though there was a strong possibility there would already be plenty of it for the taking.

We brought it for two reasons: 1) because, as you know by now, baking is my way of showing love and being selfish all at the same time, and 2) we couldn’t not contribute to the Thanksgiving table. Cooking is in our blood, even when we are at our laziest.

And boy are we our laziest in Wichita.

You see, every visit to Wichita revolves around our two favorite things… food and family. We eat out for almost every meal [because there are way too many High School era cravings to satisfy and too many new “hotspots” to try]. We go to the movie theater as much as possible [mostly because the seats come with both recliners and butt warmers]. We drink triple the amount of our typical coffee intake [because my dad always keeps a fresh pot]. We laugh at my brother Andrew’s genius Snapchat stories. [Seriously, if you aren’t following wardshark on Snapchat, you haven’t truly lived.] And we make at least five stops at the local Dillons grocery store in a four day time span [because food and convenience rarely coexist side-by-side so perfectly].

yokohama ramen

Trying out the new Yokohama Ramen Joint in Wichita

wichita brewing company

Tasting the goods at Wichita Brewing Company

warren theater wichita

The new Warren 21 movie experience. [Aka – the premium $20 nap spot]

It’s the exact opposite of our Colorado lifestyle, but we love it more than we can say because it allows us optimal quality time with both family and friends and gives us the feeling of being taken care of. [Admit it… who doesn’t love taking a break from adulting every once in awhile?]

The extra leisurely time and eight-hour road trip home also gave us a lot of time to reflect on the things for which we are most thankful. [Who knew that laziness could be so beneficial?] So in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season and the oncoming promise of Advent [and in mourning of the pumpkin pie we just finished off last night] we thought we would share a few near and dear to our hearts at the given moment.

  • Home. It took awhile to figure it out but I learned a long time ago that my home will always be where Jason is. No matter where we are — in our hometowns, in the Colorado mountains, among the vistas of Patagonia, along the urban bike lanes of Montreal, or within a church in Belgium [all places we have visited this year] — we always have a feeling of being at home in the world when we are together. It also doesn’t hurt that our actual home is kick-ass in its own right. I’ve spent my life traipsing from one city to the next like Goldilocks in search of something “just right”, so I can’t tell you how beyond thankful to have found a place that has embodied that “just right” feeling and is somewhere we finally look forward to coming back to after every adventure.
  • Friends. And not just the kind of friends who will drop everything for a much-needed happy hour [though those friends are heroes in their own right]. I’m talking the kind of friends who plan their vacations around reunions with you. Who know the true and sacred meaning of “game nights”. Who promote the wearing of onesies beyond what is sometimes considered socially acceptable. Who let you sleep in their bed or on their couch when you are in town, no questions asked. And who invite you over to their house to teach you their grandmother’s grape leaves recipe, thus identifying you as a worthy candidate to learn the multi-generational secrets of Lebanese cuisine. [Jamil, you blow us away and have forever warmed our hearts with your generosity and teaching. Thank you!!]
  • Family. Most notably, my crazy brothers. I will always miss my parents during the holidays, but I miss my brothers the most when we’re not together. They have always been and forever will be in my compatriots in life. We are vastly different — each one of us — but there are some things that only they understand, despite the many years since we all lived under the same roof. They also constantly challenge us to laugh harder and love deeper, which I think all of us could use these days.
  • Food. This one is obviously a given, but we’re not just talking about food on a plate. We’re talking about real and thoughtful food. We are truly blessed with the opportunity to write about the food we have constant access to, while so many people go without day after day. This was put into intense focus for us right before we left for Wichita. For the first time in our lives, we decided to give thanks by giving back and help make brownbag lunches for downtown Denver’s homeless. In all of our conjurings in the kitchen, this was by far the most thoughtful and one that brought perspective to something we have always taken for granted. Our goal is to never lose sight of such perspective.
  • Words. It’s been just over a year since we launched this silly blog of ours. We honestly never expected it to become anything more than an excuse to talk about our escapades and gush about the people we love. But over time, it has morphed into a much-needed creative outlet, a go-to reference for all of our favorite recipes, and a visceral reminder of the riches in our lives, lest we ever forget them. The words here have kept us accountable, reflective, and constantly in search of beauty everywhere we go — which is more than we could have ever said before. Which brings us to…
  • Pie. And the fact that we get to share our favorite pie recipes with you. As I mentioned before, Jason might be a fan of almost every other pie except that of the pumpkin variety, but he has stated on multiple occasions that he would gladly eat this from-scratch version again and again. [My older, pickier brother would agree with him.] That’s because, like our favorite foods, it is real and thoughtful. It’s not a sweet, orange pie like you see in the grocery store… it’s heartier and browner because it’s chock full of spices and gourd-y goodness which only a real pumpkin can only provide. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

pumpkin pie

“Real Pumpkin” Pumpkin Pie
Aside from the whole “realness” thing going for it, another great thing about this “Real Pumpkin” Pumpkin Pie is the fact that you can make it ahead of time. We made the crust in Denver several days in advance and the filling the day before Thanksgiving, so we were fully out of the way once the main event was underway in the kitchen. It’s also just begging for personalization. We love the shortbread-like texture and taste of the pâte sucrée but any sweet pie dough could work. Whatever you prefer!


  • 1 baked pie shell of pâte sucrée [or your favorite pie crust]
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin goop [cooked, sieved pumpkin]
  • 1-1/2 cans [18 oz] evaporated milk


  1. Cook your pumpkin and make your pumpkin goop.
  2. Prep and bake your pâte sucrée. Unlike many other pie shells, you will actually bake the pâte sucrée all the way through before adding the filling. Once the dough is placed in the pie shell, line it with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake at 375-degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and paper and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until tart is a light golden brown color. Cover dough securely and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  3. Next prepare the filling by mixing all of the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl with a hand blender. Line the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent burning and pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared shell. [Note: the mixture will be very runny. An easy way to avoid transference spillage is to place the pie pan on a partially extracted oven rack and pour the mixture directly into it.]
  4. Bake at 425-degrees F for 15 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 350-degrees and bake another 45 to 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temp and refrigerate covered for up to a day until ready to serve.

pumpkin pie

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