Homemade Pumpkin Pie

“There is no better time than the autumn to begin forgetting the things that trouble us, allowing them to fall away like dried leaves. There is no better time to dance again, to make the most of every crumb of sunlight and warm body and soul with its rays before it falls asleep and becomes only a dim light bulb in the skies – Paulo Coelho

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After such a hot summer I have been enjoying the crisp fall weather every chance I get. Fall has always been my favorite season, but even more so when my love for running was cultivated by this season of colorful landscapes, crunching leaves under my feet, and cooler temperatures.

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I’m learning each time I put on my shoes and hit the pavement that running is so much more than putting one foot in front of the other. Running is about connection. Connection with the environment, myself, and with other people. In order for me to be the best version of myself, I need to open and honest with what I am feeling and why. Running offers me a chance to reflect while still participating in a healthy activity. This level of awareness allows me to process my feelings without being completely immersed in them. When I am able to support myself in this way, I am stronger and more capable of supporting others.

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The connections I’ve made with other people through running have given me many meaningful experiences.  On September 22nd the city of Philadelphia declared 10 miles of streets to be “car free” and my friends and I ran those 10 miles in awe at the power of community. The streets were packed with runners, walkers, kite-flyers, parents pushing strollers as well as people doing yoga. Everyone was encouraging one another and supporting each other in the ultimate goal of living a healthy lifestyle and appreciating our environment by making a conscious effort to walk, run, or bike instead of drive.

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A few weeks ago I had my longest run yet of 12.5 miles and although I was sore and tired afterwards, I was quickly filled with gratitude for the strength I have and the support I receive from friends and family to accomplish such a goal. After burning all those calories I decided it was only fitting that my passion for fall running meet my passion for fall baking – thus, pumpkin pie! Pies always make me think of the holidays, celebrating with family and expressing gratitude. Thanksgiving is just around the corner but we have the opportunity to practice gratitude each and every day. Sharing a piece of pie with family is a wonderful way to begin.

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This is my favorite recipe for pie crust and it works for me every time. You can double the recipe to make two 9-inch pie crusts. Begin by mixing together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Next use a pastry cutter to mix in the shortening. The shortening should be pea-sized once it’s mixed.

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After that, one tablespoon at a time, add in the ice-cold water and mix with a fork until the dough is moistened. This can be tricky because too little water means the crust won’t hold together but too much and it will be too sticky. The goal to use just enough so the dough holds its shape. Using ice water helps the fat remain cold. The cooler the fat the flakier the dough and having a flaky pie crust makes everyone happier.

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Once all the dough is moistened, gather it into a ball and transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. I find it’s easy to transfer the dough to the pie plate by rolling it up in the rolling pin, then rolling it back out over the pie plate.

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Use kitchen scissors to trim the extra pie dough hanging from the pie plate. It’s a good idea to trim the pie dough to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the plate. Having extra pie dough means you can use cookie cutters to make fun shapes to decorate the pie with.

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This recipe is simple but delicious! Pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, spices, eggs and that’s it – mix it all together, pour it into the prepared crust and bake in the oven.

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If you cut out shapes with the extra pie dough you can either place them on the pie about a half hour into cooking or just use a little corn syrup to attach them after the pie is baking. If the shapes are really small (like letters) I usually wait to attach them until after baking because they burn easily since they are so small. Its’a fun way to decorate pies and get a little creative in the kitchen – which is always a good idea in my book!

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