Perfect pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving

The star of the show at the home of US Consul General Mary Ellen Koenig every Thanksgiving? The pumpkin pie.

For more than 30 years, she’s made it using a recipe she found in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, where her husband Robert worked as a journalist.

“The newspaper had a great food page every Thursday and one day I saw this recipe for what they called Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie,” she said.

“My husband loved it. It’s been a family favourite ever since.

“Aside from the turkey, the pumpkin pie is the most important ingredient for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

“I typically make the pies the night before and then the rest of the meal is usually an afternoon production.”

The 62-year-old, who moved to Bermuda in August, said she had a lot to be thankful for this year.

Three of her four children — Laura, Claire and Christopher — have flown to the Island for the holiday. Her eldest son, Mark, was unable to make the long journey from his home in Bangkok, Thailand.

“My older daughter arrived in on Sunday and my youngest on Monday. Our son came in with his wife and eight-month-old son yesterday, so we will be almost all together.

“That’s what Thanksgiving is about — giving thanks and being together with the people you love.”

Mrs Koenig said she was grateful for the “wonderful warm welcome” she had received since she moved to the Island.

“I’ve had so much help from various people who’ve given me their insights and perspectives on Bermuda and how it works,” she said.

“It’s funny because I had always wanted to visit Bermuda, but never imagined I’d have the chance to live here, so what a delight to find ourselves here.

“I’d always heard about the beauty and the strong British influences, so I feel fortunate to get to be here for three years.

“We were so thrilled to get this assignment, in part because it’s closer to the US. Before this we were in Russia for two years and felt so far from my elderly mother and our children.”

Mrs Koenig is the second eldest of seven children.

As she puts it, her mother came “from a long line of Irish women who were terrible cooks”.

“I’ve taught myself to cook, so I’m a decent cook, but not an extraordinary one,” she said.

“I remember as a kid the big gatherings with lots of cousins. One year the women in my family cooked the turkey and left the plastic bag in the middle, not knowing it was there. So I remember some of the laughter we had with my grandmother’s cooking, but the best part was just being together.”

She has made it a tradition in her family to take a walk together before enjoying the Thanksgiving meal.

“When we lived in Washington DC we used to have a wonderful family dog,” she said. “We would take Annie with us to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as well as Rock Fork State Park, which are two wonderful places to walk in.

“After that we would have dinner. It’s all the normal fixings — turkey and stuffing, several different kinds of potato dishes like sweet potatoes. You also have various vegetables and then finish it off with apple and pumpkin pie.”

As a diplomat in the foreign service, many of Mrs Koenig’s recent Thanksgivings have been spent outside the US.

Over the past 22 years, the St Louis native has enjoyed lengthy stays in South Africa, Russia, Germany and Switzerland.

But living outside the US sometimes made it difficult to find all the right ingredients for Thanksgiving.

“Turkeys aren’t a given in every country, neither are sweet potatoes, so you have to adapt,” she said.

“You may have to search really hard for whatever the ingredients are.

“We probably had to special order our turkey in South Africa, but I think we always managed to get one in time for Thanksgiving. Sometimes we would have people ship us canned pumpkin because that’s not always available outside the US either.”

Make your own pumpkin pie

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie recipe, shared by US Consul General Mary Ellen Koenig

Ingredients

• 2 cups (1lb can) plain pumpkin

• ¾ cup dark brown sugar

• 2 tsp cinnamon

• ¾ tsp ginger

• ½ tsp nutmeg

• ¼ tsp mace spice

• 1/8 tsp cloves

• ¾ tsp salt

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1½ cups (1 can) evaporated milk (add slowly while stirring)

Directions:
Combine the ingredients and pour the mixture into uncooked pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. It is finished when the centre is set.