Autumn on The Farm and Jennifer’s Brandied Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Thanksgiving is upon us…

and right on cue are blustery days, intense fall colors, and a sprinkling of rain showers to green up the fields on the farm. Recently on an extraordinarily fine day, I spent the afternoon with Jennifer and we made pie. Jennifer and I share a passion for cooking, along with Scott, David, Shelley and a few other siblings! As a large family growing up together on Redwood Hill Farm, cooking with fresh goat milk and seasonal produce from the garden each year became a natural part of our life. Now, some 45 years later, we all have favorite recipes when it comes to gathering for holiday meals and this pie is very special.

PieBlog-Nicole-kid4The farm is beautiful right now. The apples have long been harvested and though “apple blossom time” in the spring is spectacular with the white and blush pink clouds of blossoms covering the 350+ trees in our organic orchard, fall is really my favorite time on the farm. The tomatoes are now finished after the recent rains, along with most of the warm weather produce. The farm’s figs, pears, and apricots have all been harvested as well. But the chard is red, beautiful and resurging in the cool fall weather. The kale is thriving too…dinners have taken on a new taste and texture these past few weeks.

Scott, the Redwood Hill Farm manager has a beautiful garden in the backyard for his growing family. He was planting garlic in a new raised bed on the day I was taking pictures. As I watched him work and admired the beautiful greens and butternut squash ready for harvesting, I asked him about his favorite fall greens to grow and prepare. “The Dinosaur kale has exceptional flavor, and I really prefer it, even over the chard.” In the photo above, Dinosaur kale is the deeply textured leafy greens.

PieBlog-Jen-HandsClsup-BLR1Scott composts heavily on the farm (as I do at my Forestville home). Scraps from the kitchen, zucchini that quickly grew out of control, and of course the manure from barn cleaning, all gets heaped into the compost pile to let the earthworms and other insect composters work their magic. Each spring there is finished “black gold” to mine from the piles and use in the gardens, both for planting and mulch for newly sprouted vegetable seedlings. This year’s composted Halloween jack-o-lanterns will emerge next season for yet another delicious crop of Sugar Pie pumpkins.

Of all the kids in our large family, Jennifer was the only one who never left the farm; she couldn’t conceive a life without her precious dairy goats. She has harvested many a pumpkin over countless seasons…

Back in her beautiful farm kitchen Jennifer launched right into preparations for pie. It’s a bit of work to prepare the pumpkin but oh so worth it…the fresh puree lends a fantastic dense texture and full, fresh, pumpkin flavor to this pie. I learned something new from my big sister on this day: She soaks her cleaned pumpkin seeds in sea salt water for 15-20 minutes before roasting them. It imparts a lightly salted crunch to the finished seeds…

PieBlog-Cookbook-IngredsBLRPreheat oven to 375 degrees, roast for approximately 40 minutes or until fork tender. While the sweet aroma of baking pumpkin warms the kitchen, prepare your pastry.

The base of any pie is a delicious crust. Jennifer likes to use an all-butter recipe that includes organic, whole wheat pastry flour. After making your crust, shape into a disk, wrap and chill. For ease of handling while rolling out, try using a marble slab to keep your pie dough cool and work quickly!

Jennifer’s recipe was adapted from Camille Glenn’s classic cookbook “The Heritage of Southern Cooking”, given to her by friend and fellow goat person, Judy Schad. I love this cookbook! After borrowing it from Jennifer countless times, I had to get my own copy. Fresh organic eggs from the farm hens are essential for this classic pie, your finest brandy, and of course the delicious ingredient that makes this pie very special, goat milk kefir.

PieBlog-Jen-PouringBLRCooking Tip: for any of your favorite recipes that call for milk, try substituting yogurt or kefir, it works beautifully in cooking, especially in cakes and breads lending a tender, moist crumb.

Jennifer combined her ingredients and used a handy gadget that I need for my kitchen, (holiday hint to brothers and sisters reading this) a hand-held immersion blender. In no time she had creamy, smooth puree ready to pour.

All that’s left is baking, cooling and enjoying! We also make Green Valley Creamery lactose-free kefir, yogurt and sour cream in our solar-powered, organic creamery located just a few miles from the farm. For an easy to digest alternative to whipped cream this  year, try this: a decadent dollop of Green Valley Creamery lactose-free sour cream, lightly whipped with a bit of maple syrup and vanilla. Luscious!

Get the full recipe here.

—Sharon Bice