Silky smooth banana-sweetened pumpkin pie


It may be the ship has sailed, and you're well past your personal pie quota by now, but on this Sunday after Thanksgiving, I have to devote a minute to my Mom's pumpkin pie. It's lovely, silky, autumn-spiced, and gluten free if you want it to be. The creamy texture and subtle sweetness owes to one ripe banana, plus a couple tablespoons of nutrient-packed blackstrap molasses. Which means, of course, that this is yet another pie you can enjoy...if you want to...for breakfast. As if you didn't see that statement coming already, right?

For Thanksgiving this year, I went back to Connecticut to see my family for a blink-and-it's-over four day stretch. This summer, taking a real break and properly un-plugging for a bit, Dave and I took time to create a sort of emotional inventory, and made a declaration to ourselves that we would make more of an effort to spend time with family, even if it meant some financial juggling and creative brainstorming. Which is kind of a given, having family on the east coast, west coast, and across the Atlantic, and no one within driving distance.

As a result of our private pact, we've got some hefty travel plans this winter, and for Thanksgiving, I traveled alone. I was sorry to leave Dave (and Riley) behind, but it wasn't feasible for him to take vacations in such close proximity, and they did deserve a little boys' time anyway. Plus, the chance for a little precious 1-1 time with my little sis, who has her nose to the grindstone to an extreme this year, easily beat assertions of a Mastercard commercial. I got to play the piano for my Grandpa, and better yet, listen to him let fingers loose on the keyboard for the first time in years.


Thanksgiving morning, I ran the Manchester Road Race with my Dad and Laura. Wow, I'd forgotten what it was like to participate in an event with 15,000 people! One year, I hope we can all run it in costume...not just donning the like of Santa hats, which Dave and I did one year we fun-ran, but whole haul. Like the family in chicken and turkey suits. This year, though, I was using the odd-distanced, 4.8 mile race as a tune-up for next week's marathon. I was pleased with my time and place, and particularly pleased with the fact that I handily beat a snooty girl who sized me up with arrogance when I asked which corral I was in (jogging from the portalets to make the start, I had to duck under the side barrier with two other women, and wanted to make sure I hadn't accidentally landed in the elite zone). "You probably want to start further back," she said. "This is for sub-35 minute runners, and we're going to start really, really fast." So much the spirit of Thanksgiving?! Maybe I should thank that girl for lighting a fire for me, but that stung. I passed her in the first mile and never saw her again. I'm pretty certain, however, she didn't notice, and I'm doubly sure the encounter didn't feature around her dinner table later, and she's not writing up the conversation in her blog. I'm over it now. But you understand.

Trips home, especially on your own sans spouse/partner/friend, invariably involve a certain amount of regression, and moments of everything: guilt and gratitude, fun and frustration. As for this one, I do have one regret, aside from wishing we could see our families more. I hardly took any pictures of people. I did take pictures of my mom's gorgeous, healthy pie, which came out beautifully considering the pictures were taken by my phone (a new Samsung Galaxy which I, as one who primarily uses a phone for phoning, texting, and emailing and doesn't spend a whole lot of time exploring apps, don't really deserve). It occurred to me later that I am awfully conscientious about taking food photos, and Riley pics, albeit with little skill, but rarely think to take others. Maybe it's because I don't want to interrupt a moment with something that tends to require or inspire posing. If so, I think there's some room for compromise.

Back to that pie, though, for just a moment. I always used to say my mother speaks through food. That's not really fair, as she speaks with her own voice quite clearly and audibly enough. It's just, we always knew, growing up, which friends scored the most brownie points (pun intended) by what appeared in the oven; when we were in the doghouse, and likewise, forgiven. I guess the phrase "emotes through food" would be more to the mark, but that might sound a bit too airy-fairy for my mom. In any case, in this case I suppose the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Appreciation of one another can be harder to express than it should be. Sometimes love is hardest to vocalize with those we depend on the most. But I ate that pie for breakfast, every day.

Banana sweetened pumpkin pie

For the crust:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup oats (or eliminate flour altogether and use 1 3/4 cup oats)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons 100% maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cold orange juice

For the filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 1 ripe banana, pureed
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or spice mix to taste
  1. Prepare the crust: Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until achieving a coarse meal. Press into a prepared 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Prepare filling: In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine.
  3. Pour filling into crust. in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set.