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Just finished reading How It All Began: A Novelby Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas. It’s a very, very good read. It tells the story of an older married woman who lives in a small mining town in the Colorado rockies (this is the mid-1800’s), and is well known by all because she’s the only midwife in the area. Often people can’t pay her anything, or very little for her days of service with little or no rest or food. Suddenly, a couple accuse her of strangling their infant (she arrived after the birth, actually). Hence the story is about how this small town rallies or rails for or against Gracy. She didn’t commit the crime, but not everyone can be convinced since the father is a wealthy man in the area who carries a lot of clout. There’s plenty of relationship issues here, which make really great fodder for a novel. And there are plenty of characters in the book that you’ll love or hate. Some secrets get dredged up too. Oh, such a good read.

On my recent road trip, I visited one of my local libraries and borrowed 5 books on tape. We listened to 3 of them. I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson, the author of a series of mysteries taking place in Wyoming, and a TV series on Netflix called Longmire. This book, A Serpent’s Tooth: A Longmire Mystery was really complex. Hard to explain, but it’s about graft and greed and oil. Worth reading, for sure. Also read Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman, another complex mystery about Lt Decker, an LA cop who journeys to NYC to help out his family when a murder occurs. Lots of violence in this one.  Not particularly a fav book, I’d venture. Then read Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read most of her books – always very riveting. In this book, you’ll learn a whole lot about elephants since the protagonist in it is a young girl whose mother disappeared when she was quite young. Her parents ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. In the ensuing years, Jenna has tried to find clues as to her mother’s whereabouts because she just cannot believe her mother would have up and abandoned her. There are a whole cast of characters (her mother, her father, employees at the sanctuary, a cop or two, and a psychic). All play fairly prominent roles. Fascinating book – I really liked it, almost as much for the education about the behavior of elephants as about the mystery. A great read.

Also on the trip, I read a book (on Kindle) for one of my book clubs, The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. It’s about the relationship between Truman Capote and his “swans,” a group of middle-aged high society ladies, and specifically Beth Paley. I don’t know whether to recommend this book or not. Truman Capote was not a nice man, although the whole novel (vs. non-fiction, which this is not) is conjured from speculation about the years Truman was kind of adopted by the group of women. He cared about all of them (most were married/divorced, and wealthy) but in the end he betrays them all by writing a novella about their secrets, their marriages, their affairs (theirs or their spouses, information they’d all shared with him, thinking he could be trusted with their innermost secrets). It was scandalous, and yes, all that part is true. I finished the book, but almost felt like I’d read a “dirty book.” There is no graphic detail in this book – it’s just what Capote did to destroy these women, supposedly his dear, darling “swans.” He was the villain in the book, and in his old age . . . well, I won’t spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Uncategorized, on November 5th, 2011.

costcopumpkinpie

Most likely half of you already get Costco’s little magazine. If you haven’t noticed, they’ve really upped the ante with the magazine – it’s very informative these days, and I do look through it from cover to cover.

The most current issue shows a photo of Chris Kimball (from Cook’s Illustrated in Boston). They interviewed him, and he talked about how the magazine (meaning the test kitchen) buys lots of things from Costco, and he’s a frequent shopper there too. Also contained in the issue was a one-page article about pumpkin pie. Their pumpkin pie.

So, here are the Costco pumpkin pie facts – per year:

  • They make 4.7 MILLION pumpkin pies
  • They use 6.3 MILLION pounds of canned pumpkin (in #10 cans – each can holds about a quart of pumpkin puree)
  • About 4.8 MILLION pounds of sugar and spices are used
  • About 2 MILLION pounds of fresh whole eggs go into them

torn_sheetAll of the pumpkins are grown and harvested in a 700-acre area near Peoria, Illinois. About 174 truck loads of pumpkins are locally processed into the 1 million #10 cans. Those cans are shipped to all the Costco bakeries across the country. Costco made their first pumpkin pie in 1987 and sold it for $5.99. In 1993 (that’s 18 years ago!) they increased the size of the pie to 12”, but left the price the same. Yea for Costco! And did you know or ever notice that each pie weighs about 3 1/2 POUNDS! Costco pumpkin pies are just as good as I can make them, I think. You’ve read it here before, that I buy their pies every year now and I measure it up against the standard Libby’s, and I think it is right up there. Maybe not the pie crust, but the pie filling for sure.

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  1. mike

    said on November 21st, 2012:

    Not exactly everything I would want to know.

    Why does Costco use Soybean and Canola oil? Why is their pie full of GMO corn products… corn sugar, corn syrup, corn starch.

    The recipe has changed a lot over the years. They are not nearly as good as they used to be. I do not know if the old pies in the cardboard boxes measured 12″ or not but the new ones are 11″.

    It’s sad to see the quality of Costco products diminish.

    Well, you’re right about not everything to know . . I only wrote up what I’d read in the Costco magazine. Obviously they’re trying to market the darned things. I didn’t buy them until about 3-4 years ago, and perhaps they did change the recipe. I think they taste fairly close to Libby’s recipe, which is my standard. Since I always feed a fairly big crowd for Thanksgiving, and I appreciate helpers – I’m glad for any/all assistance. One year our daughter bought these pies and I decided we weren’t going back to home made. Thanksgiving Dinner is such a labor-intensive meal (for me) that I have decided to cut some corners here and there. As for the GMO corn stuff – you’re absolutely right. I’d prefer not to eat them, but the option is make my own. Or buy them somewhere else, but I like Costco’s attempt to make theirs taste like the much-loved Libby’s. . . carolyn t

  2. Rebecca

    said on November 21st, 2014:

    I second Mike’s comment. Why is Costco’s pie full of cheap oils and GMO ingredients? Quality certainly has gone down.

    This year I bought a Costco pie a couple of weeks ago and I noticed that it contained some gritty ingredients – don’t know if it was a smidgen of stem, or seeds? Have no idea. I’ve not encountered that before. But then I went to someone else’s home and they served it also. And guess what? It had some of that gritty stuff in it too. I suppose I should complain. I’m disappointed. . . carolyn t

  3. M.A.Andrews

    said on November 22nd, 2014:

    Do Costco pumpkin pies have High Fructose Corn syrup in them? Thank you.

    I don’t know for sure. I rather doubt it, but don’t quote me. I’d have to look at the label. Next time I’m in Costco I’ll look, if I can remember to do it . .. .carolyn t

  4. Austin

    said on October 16th, 2015:

    Are you suppose to cook them.

    No, Costco’s pumpkin pies are already baked, and ready to eat. . . carolyn t

  5. Jay

    said on December 26th, 2015:

    http://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/costco-has-pumpkin-pies-down-to-a-science/

    I enjoyed reading that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Costco makes more than a million pies these days. . . carolyn t

  6. Jeff

    said on October 3rd, 2016:

    Our family has loved these pies for years. I noticed the last 2 years the pies seemed undercooked. I was wondering if I could rebake it???

    I’m sure you could. Not more than 15 minutes. At about 300 degrees. That’s just a guess. . . Carolyn T

  7. eilene crosier

    said on October 4th, 2016:

    i bought a Costco pumpkin pie today dated best before Oct. 6, 2016. Should it be frozen if were’re not eating it until oct. 10th? Thank you.

    It will be fine until the 10th

  8. Rhonda

    said on October 6th, 2016:

    Wondering why they add sulphites and carrageenan to the pumpkin pie? My mom is sensitive to sulphites and some research suggests none of us should be eating carageenan. Too bad, because it’s a nice looking pie, but I we won’t be eating it, or getting another until the recipe changes for the better.

    I had no idea they added those things. Too bad. . . Carolyn T

  9. sherry lacorte

    said on October 8th, 2016:

    Does your pumpkin pie contain dairy? I read that dry
    ingredients are added to the pumpkin mix, along with eggs,
    but you do not say what is in the dry ingredients. We love
    the pie but can no longer eat lactose so need to know
    whether dairy is contained in the pie.

    I’m sorry – I don’t know. Why don’t you call your local Costco and ask them – or contact their corporate people. I THINK they make them at hundreds of their different bakery kitchens. . . carolyn t

  10. Cyci

    said on November 16th, 2016:

    What are the dry spices in costco pumpkin pie?

    If, in fact, Costco’s pie is a mimic of Libby’s, then they use cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Nothing else. I don’t have the label to look at, so I’m not sure. If I buy one in the next week, I’ll look to see if they define which ones. . . carolyn t

  11. Reading suzy

    said on November 24th, 2016:

    My goodness! If you have so many questions about Costco pumpkin pies you should just make your own. But be sure to make your own crust and not Pillsbury, because that is probably full of the same stuff you don’t like about Costco pies. Filling is pumpkin puree, spices and fresh eggs, made fresh at each Costco store.

    I love Costco pumpkin pies – have for many many years and had them again this year. So much easier than making them myself. Even though the crust isn’t home made, it’s gosh darned good. . . sure never intended to imply I didn’t like them, cuz I do. . . carolyn t

  12. Theo

    said on January 7th, 2017:

    Obviously a frozen pie…tastes OK but the texture is always a problem for me. Why can’t they just make nice fresh pies and charge what that actually costs???

    I don’t understand your comment – Costco’s pumpkin pies aren’t frozen. To the best of my knowledge, they’re made fresh almost every day during prime season from Oct-Dec. And, the big pie is very inexpensive, in my opinion at about $6. . . carolyn t

  13. Mel

    said on October 25th, 2017:

    Just bought a Costco pumpkin pie, haven’t purchase one for several years…but I was really looking forward to a slice. Extremely disappointed! What did they do to their delicious pumpkin pie??? It used to be as good as mine…but no longer 🙁

    Oh my goodness! I haven’t tried one since last fall, 2016. They’ll likely get lots of complaints, so hopefully they’ll go back to the usual recipe. . . carolyn t

  14. Doug

    said on November 15th, 2017:

    Does Costco usually continue baking pumpkin pies up to Thanksgiving Day or even to the end of the year?

    My local Costco sells pumpkin pie about 4-5 months of the year, through January 1st, for sure. Don’t know about every one of them, however. . . carolyn t

  15. Mary Lou

    said on November 17th, 2017:

    Is the filling gluten free?

    Hmmm. I think so, but don’t quote me on that. I don’t a pie here to check – the label should be specific about what’s in the crust and what’s in the filling. . . carolyn t

  16. Judy

    said on November 18th, 2017:

    What are the dimensions of the pumpkin pie? I have to refrigerate it to transport it to my dinner destination and don’t know if it will fit in my cooler.

    Oh, goodness, I don’t know. But it’s BIG. Probably at least 13 inches square, maybe 13 1/2. I’m not sure. I guess I DON’T know everything there is to know about that pie!! . . . carolyn t

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