Grandma's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This pie reminds me of childhood. My mom’s family was all back east, so holidays were spent with my dad’s side of the family. My grandma would make her pumpkin chiffon pie every Thanksgiving. I was totally unaware that this wasn’t the traditional pumpkin pie of holiday lore. The first time I had a slice (brick) of standard baked pumpkin pie, it was a rude awakening. Grandma’s pumpkin chiffon pie is light and fluffy and perfectly spiced. It’s perfect after a heavy holiday meal, but it’s even more perfect as leftovers the next morning for breakfast. This pie must be topped with a generous pillow of freshly whipped cream to reach its full pumpkin pie potential.


Grandma’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie


One 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1/4 cold water
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar, separated
3 eggs, separated*

*The egg yolks are cooked into a sort of custard but the egg whites are whipped and incorporated into the pie filling raw. If you’re like me and feel squicky about eating raw eggs, separate your yolks and save the egg whites for an omelette. You can buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton near where the eggs are sold in most grocery stores (make sure you buy egg whites specifically and not whole eggs). If you go this route, there’s a tiny bit of math involved because you’ll need to multiple however many tablespoons of pasteurized egg white you’d sub for one egg by three for this recipe.


You need a double-boiler for this recipe but the good news is that if you don’t have one, you can easily fake it. Fill a pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a heat-safe mixing bowl that’s big enough so the sides are wider than the mouth of the pot. You want your bowl to sit in the mouth of the pot and hang down into the pot but not be submerged in your water. I like to use a glass Pyrex bowl so I can easily check that my water is still boiling by scraping the bottom of my bowl (so I don’t have to lift the side of the bowl and let my precious heat escape).

Soften gelatin by sprinkling it over the cold water and letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. You don’t need to stir it into the water.

In the top of your double-boiler (or mixing bowl) combine pumpkin, milk, spices, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk together and continue stirring until thick. You want the water in the bottom of the double-boiler to remain at a gentle boil so your mixture will cook. Cook and whisk occasionally until your mixture thickens to pudding consistency (about 10 - 15 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture.

Cool. I usually pop my pumpkin mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. If you mix your egg whites in while it’s still too hot it will kind of curdle and break. This pie sounds a bit high maintenance, I know, but trust me; it’s worth it.

In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stuff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cooled pumpkin mixture until well combined. Pour into baked (cooled) pie shell and chill.

Serve with oodles of fresh whipped cream and the smug knowledge that you win Thanksgiving, you devilish Pie Master.


{this post contains affiliate links}


September feels like January 2.0 to me. The new school year and the transition from summer to autumn bring a certain weight to the month. September 1st feels like New Year’s Day all over again, three quarters of the way through the year.

I’ve got a few resolutions to carry me through 2019. I want to have a “buy nothing September” where we only spend money on essentials. I’d like to start eating more vegetarian meals, and journey further into the world of vegan meals. I’m going to clean out the front hall closet and donate anything that hasn’t been touched in the last year (I suspect this will be 75+% of the items in the front hall closet). I’d like to read more and watch less Netflix. I’m planning to read one parenting book per month. I am going to make a sourdough starter and make my own sourdough bread. I am going to plan at least one date per month with Shawn - no babies, no friends, no distractions. I am going to take deeper breaths and not get stressy or shrill during our morning routine. I am going to grant myself a little grace when I do get stressy and shrill during our morning routine. I want to do yoga with the kids, at least once per week. I want to start reading Harry Potter before bed with Grady. I’m going to continue to take Poppy to the pool even after the rains come and it’s cold and dark every evening. I want to get the kids more involved with holiday prep, and figure out how to consume less (presents, plastics, dollars, butter) this holiday season.

Do you have any goals you want to accomplish in the last bit of 2019?


Twelve years ago we ate cheeseburgers and watched the fireworks and you asked me to marry you.

Eleven years ago we stood on the rooftop of an Irish pub and sealed the deal.

Last week we celebrated Grady’s eighth birthday. This week we celebrated Poppy graduating out of diapers.

Life is a trip and there’s no one I’d rather be on it with than you.



Dear Grady,

Today is your eighth birthday. This morning when you woke up you told me you still felt seven, and you thought that might be because a whole year didn’t pass during the night, just one night passed, and so it makes sense that you still feel the same age. I love listening to you process thoughts. Even when those thoughts are about Minecraft.

You love to draw and make things out of paper. You go through an obscene amount of tape but you build some really impressive, intricate works of art (which your sister promptly destroys because you tend to leave your art on every surface you can find).

You are kind and thoughtful, and have a very strong sense of doing what’s right. You care deeply about your family and your friends. Sometimes I worry that this world will break your sensitive heart, but then I remember you’ve got Poppy to stomp all over anyone who dares to hurt you.

You look out for your sister, even though she’s in a very pinchy / bitey phase right now. You came with us to her most recent allergy appointment and you patiently sat for hours while the doctor ran his tests. You asked if I remembered the Epi-Pen. When you thought Poppy was having a reaction, you offered to go get the doctor. (She was fine but that’s not the point. The point is you’re eight years old and you care about more than yourself. I am so impressed by you.)

At eight years old you are knobby knees and shaggy hair and fart jokes and stuffed animals shoved under the pillow rather than on display and pages and pages of carefully drawn comic book characters and the deepest belly laugh I’ve ever heard. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Grady, it’s your birthday, and I wish I could give you the moon and the stars. You’ve given me so much more.