Years ago, I taught home-ec at a middle school in Colorado. I loved teaching kids how to cook.
Each class had up to 40 students divided into six area kitchens around the room, each complete with counters, sink, stove, oven, utensils, pans and even a table and chairs.
Many didn't speak English. Many didn't know how to read. Many were affiliated with gangs.
I funded the program by starting a cookie company. Students came in before school and baked giant chocolate-chip cookies that we sold all day for $1 each.
I warned all twelve of my classes (Yes, that's 240 students every other day or 480 students per quarter.) that if they wanted to eat the food they cooked, they had to be on their best behavior.
They were. Mostly.
Right before Thanksgiving, one class wouldn't settle down. They were rowdy, noisy and disrespectful to each other. Usually, they would pull together as a group for the good of -- eating the results.
Not on this day. Nothing worked: Thanksgiving break started at the end of the day and that's all they could think about.
My first three classes make the mini pumpkin pies without any issues, but this fourth class gave me pause.
So, I did what I said I would do: when the pies came out of the oven, I wouldn't let the 4th period students eat them.
They begged, said they didn't really want them and threatened to go to the superintendent.
I told them that I hoped they did tell the superintendent that there were extra pies available; she loved pumpkin pie.
Oh, sad faces left the room that day.
In the end the joke was on me: I had to get rid of 40 mini pumpkin pies before the end of the day.
During my lunch break, my friend Manuel was teaching Spanish down the hall. I filled a cart with pies and whipped cream, called him to his classroom door and asked if his students would like a snack.
His eyes grew wide as he looked over the cart. "You really did it. You wouldn't let them eat their pies?"
I smiled as he opened the door wide. His students learned how to discuss pie in the present tense (I am eating pie.), the past tense (I was eating pie.) and the future tense (I hope her students are bad so I can eat pie again next week.).
I never had any behavior problems with any Home-Ec students after that.
In the past week, two former students from that middle school found me online. They didn't ask how I was or where I was. They didn't thank me for instilling a love of cooking. They didn't share memories from that time.
"Hey, Miss H." One boy -- who is in his late twenties now--wrote to me. "Can I have that pie recipe that you wouldn't let the other class eat?"
A girl sent me a message asking if I changed the recipe at all over the years.
Then she asked for the recipe again.
One recipe makes one pie. Or one recipe can make several mini pies: I think I used 1/4 cup of dough for the mini pies that were baked in regular-sized muffin pans.
Yes: you can also make mini-mini pies in mini muffin pans, but they're labor intensive.
So, I made a video to remind my former students how to make this crust and will post the recipe below.
This recipe is easy: no need to refrigerate the dough or even roll it out. The crust is made in the pie pan and you use your hand to stir it together.
This dough can be used for quiche, apple pie or any pie you like. If you're making a cream pie, best to make the sides of the pie a little thinner.
I can make the crust and the pie filling in under ten minutes. I have made it many hundreds of times.
Heat the oven to 350-degrees.
Add all ingredients to the pie pan. (I rarely add sugar, unless I'm making a very sweet pie.)
You can use any milk from almond milk to heavy cream. Don't just add more water. (Tried it. Yucky.)
Want a gluten-free pie? Use gluten-free flour.
Mix the ingredients with your cleanest hand. At first it will be ooey and you'll think that you made a mistake; you didn't.
Keep mixing. After just a moment or two, the dough will turn in to the consistency of playdough.
Press the dough on the bottom and up the sides of the dish.
Press your fingers into the dough along the top edge to "flute" the edges.
Add your filling. (I bought a can of Libby's pumpkin and followed the pie recipe on the back of the can.)
Bake as directed.
My pumpkin pie baked in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes.
This pie resembles an old fashioned, homemade pie crust that's a little uneven. If you prefer a perfectly shaped pie crust, then you'll have to learn how to roll out dough.
It might be too late for you to make this pie for Thanksgiving as I am posting this on Thanksgiving Eve.
But, well... you have time to practice; Christmas is just around the corner.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. I feel lucky to live the life I'd imagined. And there's no question that life is even better with YOU in it. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being here. Thanks for making life more fun.
My Favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe
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