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Raisin Pie On 'Bread And Butter'

We’re deep into the months of holidays. While it might look different, feasts are still looming. In my house, certain things are likely during the holidays and one of those things is a Thanksgiving raisin pie.

I love pie. Pie is a world above cake, in my opinion. Pie was never just for certain holidays growing up, it was something that was often and plentiful. My mother makes amazing pies.  Fruit pies. Cream pies. Cherry cheese pie. One of my very favorite types is my mother’s homemade chocolate pudding pie. Thick and rich and absolutely perfect, especially when it cools and you have that pudding skin on the top that you break through before getting to the always perfectly set up chocolate center. Straight from the fridge the next day is almost just as good.

That was an anytime pie, however. My absolute, number one, very favorite pie was a once-a- year pie. It showed up every Thanksgiving, without fail, every year while growing up. It was a staple. It was normal. It was a blessed constant. And it was only once I was a grown adult I realized it was not, in fact, a constant or a staple or a normal for anyone else.

Raisin pie. Have you had it?  Heard of it? It is, as you would imagine, a pie full of cooked raisins sandwiched in between two golden crusts. And it is heavenly.

I never thought of this as an odd addition to holiday feasts until bemoaning its absence in college. Attending school far too many states away to justify a trip home for the weekend, I went without my pie for the first time the Thanksgiving I was 18 and a college freshman. No one knew what I was talking about or had any desire to find out if it was real.  A pie. Full of raisins. I was flummoxed at the thought that no one else had this delicious tradition, but I also didn’t know how to make a pie at the time and couldn’t fix the injustice. So I waited, impatiently, for Christmas break to roll around, home and raisin pie alongside Santa’s candy haul and our ham. This year, however, I paid a little more attention to how my mom made it, fully intending to get back to school and replicate the dessert for my poor unfortunate friends.

Pies can be tricky. Especially to an eighteen year old college freshman who is busy and having fun and didn’t really want to bake anything more complicated than refrigerated premade cookie dough. So the thought flew south to stay with my parents until the next set of holidays reminded me of what I was again missing. Year after year of this, raisin pie deprived.

Once I was older and married, I started making pies of my own. I’m certainly not award winning and sometimes my crusts are tough, but I do enjoy the process of making pies and definitely enjoy the process of eating pies.  As I said, they are vastly superior to cake. But I never made raisin pie. I’m not certain why. Either it seemed too daunting or I had convinced myself it was too difficult and it certainly wouldn’t taste like mom’s, so I stuck with other variations and nostalgically missed the pie of my youth.

I’m not certain when nostalgia gave way to action, but one year I was craving raisin pie so wholly, I called for directions my 18 year old self never wrote down and gave it a try.  First, you boil raisins in water with a little sugar. Get them nice and plump. Once they are boiled, whisk in a little cornstarch mixture into the hot raisins, stirring until thickened. This is your filling that goes straight into your unbaked pie crust. Top with a second crust (lattice works, or simply cover with a full top crust, cutting out a small vent hole). Seal the edges. Wash with a little butter and sprinkle with sugar and a little cinnamon if you’d like. It bakes up in about a half an hour to a nice golden brown.

My first shot out of the gate and it was perfectly delicious and exactly what I crave every year in November. It doesn’t make an appearance every year, but it’s nice to know it can. And, if you try it, do yourself a favor. Take a slice that’s still hot from the oven and pour a little canned milk straight from the can, over the top. The sweet, creamy milk will swirl with the caramel-like raisins and soak into the sugary crust for the most perfect bite you’ll ever have.

What are your favorite holiday pies?  Would you ever consider adding a raisin one to the mix?  I promise, it would be worth it.