Nov. 28: A blessing

Today I have a family story to share, which starts with this email from my mother-in-law. I printed it nine years ago and keep it with my cookbooks.


Darlene made this pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving 2003, where it was a huge hit. When I was asked to make dessert for Thanksgiving 2004 at my dad’s house, I asked her to share her recipe. It’s special because the crust is shortbread, and that makes it not only delicious, but easy. The one year I tried to make a rolled pie crust I decided I hate pie, and I’ve never rolled a pie crust since.

The real story about this recipe, though, requires us to examine each section of Darlene’s email. Here’s the first part:


“Good luck with it.” Hm.

The next section:


I love that she gave me little hints—she’s really good about that kind of thing. Darlene is an amazing cook, and her desserts are always beautiful, so I appreciate any help she can give me.

The next section:


See the handwritten part? That’s my handwriting, and I wrote “3/4 c. sugar” after I made and served this pie at my dad’s Thanksgiving feast. AFTER. Yes, Darlene forgot (or should I say “forgot”???) a key ingredient in the version of the recipe she sent me. While making the pie, I thought it was strange that there was no sugar in the filling, but I figured the crust was probably sweet enough that it must not be necessary. I was so, soooo wrong. I proudly served this pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner to 15 people who took their first bites and promptly, politely walked out of the room I was in.

As soon as I tasted it myself, I knew I’d done something wrong. But I’d followed the recipe exactly as it was written! Why did this pie taste so awful? I called Darlene the next day to ask her about it. milShe grabbed her copy of the recipe and I heard her start giggling. She said, “Oh no! I forgot to write “sugar” on the recipe I sent you!” She couldn’t stop laughing.

And, since Thanksgiving had already been ruined, I started laughing too. I wrote “3/4 c. sugar” on the recipe and have made the pie, correctly,  several times since. But whenever Darlene has shared a recipe with me since this one, I’ve suspiciously asked if the list of ingredients is complete—especially if she writes “good luck with it” at the top. I like to think that she really isn’t evil enough to intentionally sabotage someone’s Thanksgiving dinner, but maybe she’s just smart enough not to do it to the same family member twice. She’s been my mother-in-law for 16+ years; she’s due for a slip-up, don’t you think? I am soooo keeping my eye on that woman.

In spite of this story that’s on its way to becoming a Manullang family legend—maybe even exaggerated to unbelievable degrees as it’s passed from one generation to the next; wouldn’t that be awesome?—I am truly blessed to belong to this part of the Manullang family. They are some of the kindest, most genuine people I know, and they’re way up there on the list of things I’m thankful for today.

Katie and I are making pumpkin pie today. Wish us luck.


Yep, I’m doing another blog challenge. This one is photo-riffic!

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