Listen closely, children, for I am about to impart the secret to a great Thanksgiving Day dinner for next year:

Pumpkin choice.

The end.

Seriously, that is now key in my mind to a successful Thanksgiving dinner... well, that and fried turkey, but for a whole different reason.

When we were picking out pumpkins last month, someone told The KingofHearts that these beige-colored crook-necked pumpkins made really good pie. So he insisted on picking one up. It sat as a decoration on our front porch until yesterday morning, when I decided to put it to use before it became a big moldy mess hanging from our banister.

It made the absolute best pumpkin pie I've ever had in my life - and I am quite a connoisseur of pumpkin-related products.

Not really knowing anything about the crook-necked pumpkin (and for some strange reason, not having it occur to me to consult my in-home dietitian and cook, Chef Google), I made it up as I went along. In no way do I consider myself a cook and as such, I seldom use this piece of the web to share recipes but I've benefited on more than one occasion from the recipes and tips my fellow bloggers post so there's a first time for everything. Here goes:

I first cut the belly in half. I highly recommend getting one of these automatic seed scooper and pumpkin cleaners, which promises to make any pumpkin-related job a snap. For two hundred easy payments of $199.95, one can be yours. There are only two problems with such a device: one, the difficulty in storing it when you're not using it - it requires quite a large space commitment; and two, the device tends to squeak and creak after extended periods of use. While most kitchen products in this condition might respond to a squirt of WD-40, lubrication does not appear to get rid of the familiar "Momma, you HAVE to HELP me!" whine that emanates from this device.

Then I cut the neck into two pieces and cut each piece lengthwise in half.

Next I covered all the pieces with foil and baked them for about an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the pumpkin was what I deemed "read
y" (basically when the meat became soft and scoop-able), I pulled them from the oven and scooped out the meat with a spoon.

I used a food processor to mash it up. Much of the rest of this recipe, I pretty much stole from these nice people.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups pumpkin mash (drained of as much water as possible) and add to it:

1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs

Mix it all together until smooth and let sit for about half an hour.

Mix once more, and then pour the whole mess into an unbaked 9" pie crust. I used regular store-bought pie crusts (because I am LAZY, that's why) and got tw
o very full pies from this. I prefer, and usually buy, deep dish pie crusts, but the grocery store was out when I went shopping a few weeks ago and one of my cardinal rules is I don't go into a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving morning. It keeps the peace.

Place the pies on a cookie sheet to guard against spilling while baking - or if you're me - while pouring the mix into the pie shell. Then mop up what you spilled onto the cookie sheet - of if you're me - don't, and let it all burn into a hard, cakey mess which will make the house smell like a chipmunk was stuck in the oven when you turned it on. Then curse your dishwash
er because it will not come off after running it through two cycles and you will actually need to wash the cookie sheet by hand.

Bake for an appropriate period of time in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. I say "appropriate period" because I almost never remember to put on the timer when I bake and either obsessively check it every two minutes, or forget about it and let it burn. (I recommend the former rather than the latter.) In this case, I think that it baked between 30 and 45 minutes, but who can tell? I just took it out when it looked done.

Top with real whipped cream, none of that Cool Whip nonsense:
Take a small container of heavy whipping cream, add 1 tbsp. sugar and beat until it's stiff
and forms peaks. [Alternatively, do not add sugar to the whipping cream before beating and instead pour melted/slightly heated honey over the whipped cream on the pie slice just before serving.]

Here's where I fell down on the job photo-documentation, because we ate the whole thing before it even occurred to me to take a picture of the finished product. But trust me, it was yummy. The cook-neck pumpkin gave the pie a whole different texture and flavor; my main objection to traditional pumpkin pie is the baby food-like texture. This was more of an applesauce-like texture. If you like pumpkin at all, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don't like pumpkin, well.. then why are you still reading a post that's entirely dedicated to pumpkins?

By the way, this one pumpkin yielded about six times what you need for this recipe so a much smaller fruit would do. The remainder of what we have will be frozen and eventually become baby food, so I was happy with the excess for once.

And there you have it. Serve with a liberal helping of Thanksgiving dinner, presented on the china you have only used half a dozen times in your ten year marriage, over the tablecloth you purchased in South America in 1989 and have never had a chance to pull out of the cedar chest before because this is the first year you've owned a real table. Give the extra pie to neighbors. Then realize how much you like it and curse yourself for not giving them the crappy cheesecake you always make instead.

Serve remaining pie to family, friends and hungry missionaries