People. I’m talking about pumpkin pie.

Tomorrow is the oh-so American celebration of Thanksgiving. Growing up in an Eastern European household we ate roast turkey and stuffing, of course, but desserts were mostly Polish: poppy seed cakes, jam-filled cookies, and my great aunt Helene’s fruitcake. As a married couple, Whole Foods always came through with perfectly baked pumpkin and apple pies, ideal for discerning guests and also leaving me more time to play in the kitchen with the real food.

Here in Austria there is no such holiday of course, and no such Whole Foods to provide said pies. Last year dinner was just for the four of us and Clayton Theodore, and we were all more than happy with a few varieties of Polish cookies for dessert.  This year friends are joining us.

Confession. I have never baked a pumpkin pie. Seafood with eyes? Pork knees? Oxtail? I’ve got tried-and-true recipes. Tony brought me a jar of preserved lemons from a trip to Kuala Lumpur, and I was as excited as a little girl on Christmas morning. Roasting a turkey in my Easy-Bake European oven? Not a problem.

I cleared six hours on my calendar today to make the pie and was prepared to deal with the whole “from scratch” business; that is, finding and roasting some Austrian squash, etc.,  I nearly kissed the ground when I spied my savior in the aisles of the Commissary this week:

I channeled up the wisdom of my two epicurean BFF’s, Julia and Martha to guide me through substitutes for a pie ingredient called “evaporated milk.” Why does evaporated milk exist?
Before long the aroma of baking pumpkin pie had wafted over to my desk, wherein I had settled to read ahead on roasting chestnuts for the stuffing and for a little general turkey roasting advice. After all, I had some time to kill now that Aunt Libby had come to my rescue.
I checked on the pie and was panic-stricken. I had used Tante Fanny’s pizza crust dough by mistake!  Though my creation is now truly a “pizza pie,” it is not something I can serve for Thanksgiving.
Tony is bringing home a second can of Libby’s pumpkin pie filling this evening, and Martha and I have a date early tomorrow morning for a lesson in homemade pie crust.
I’ll never forget my first time. Happy Thanksgiving!