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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out – well, I hope that’s not wishful thinking. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers. It tells a detailed chronology of its inception, and all the various  parts that had to come together every day, three meals a day, plus some, to make a mammoth food machine run. I have no background in the restaurant biz, but found the story very interesting. Would make a great gift.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius, held captive in a woe begotten prison. It’s about Jewish history, about relationships, and certainly a lot about the starvation and mistreatment (and many died there) of this boat load of people who never should have been sent there. So very sad, but it has bright and hopeful moments toward the end when many of them finally made it to Tel Aviv, their original destination.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then become something else. There is graphic detail here (was it really necessary? not sure of the answer) so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to pass on this – or else skip by those details when you read it. Women have been victims in so many ways for so many centuries, and it’s hard to read that it’s still a common thing in today’s society.

Barbara Delinsky writes current day fiction. Coast Road is really sweet story. Jack (ex-husband) is called away from his career to care for his two daughters when his ex (Rachel) has an accident and is in a coma. Over the course of weeks, he spends time with his daughters (he was an occasional dad). He also spends a lot of time at his ex’s bedside, getting to know her friends. Through them he learns what went wrong in their marriage. I don’t want to spoil the story. I liked it a lot.

Christina Baker Kline has written quite a story about Tasmania. You may, or may not, remember that my DH and I visited Tasmania about 10 years ago (loved it) and having read a lot about Botany Bay and the thousands of criminal exiles from Britain who were shipped there as slave labor in the 1800s. This book tells a different story. The Exiles: A Novel. This one mostly from a few women who were sentenced to Tasmania. There is plenty of cruelty on several fronts, but there is also kindness and salvation for some. Really good read.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Marion Kummerow wrote an amazing WWII novel. Not Without My Sister. If you don’t like concentration camp stories, pass on this one, but it’s very riveting, much of it at Bergen-Belsen. Two sisters (17 and 4) are separated at the camp. The story switches back and forth between the two sisters’ situations, and yes, the horror of the camp(s), the starvation, the cruelty. But, even though I’m giving away the ending . . . they do get back together again. The story is all about the in between times. Excellent book.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping. This book is about a young man, who is a young father also, loses his beloved wife. He’s barely functioning, trying to get through a day, taking care of his young son. And visiting the cemetery (the one in Montmartre, Paris). There are several peripheral characters (his son, a neighbor and best friend of his departed wife, a good fellow friend too, plus a young woman he befriends at the cemetery). Before his wife’s death she asks him to write 33 letters to her after she’s gone, and to put them in a special box hidden in the cemetery monument. And that begins the story.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

As you’ve read here many times, I marvel at authors who come up with unusual premises for their books. This one Meet Me in Monaco: A Novel of Grace Kelly’s Royal Wedding. And yes, it IS somewhat about Grace Kelly’s wedding, but most of the novel is about a young woman perfume designer, Sophie, who accidentally rescues Grace Kelly from the relentless photographers who hound her every move.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Packs up and leaves.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

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.

Below is a picture of the ingredient label on Costco’s pumpkin pie. It says it contains: pumpkin, sugar, water, eggs, enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), canola and/or soybean oil, nonfat milk, corn syrup, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, spices, corn sugar, mono & diglycerides, modified food starch. And down below it says that yes, the pies are produced in a kitchen that also processes peanuts and tree nuts. So not safe for people with nut allergies. Picture of the label – taken November, 2017.

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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

  17. Colette

    said on November 21st, 2017:

    Can I cut out a slice or two in advance of my company if I don’t care what the pie looks like? Will it change the consistency for the remaining refrigerated pieces? We’re only having a couple of people and there’s plenty of pie to start eating now. Thanks!

    Definitely, you can. The pumpkin filling is quite firm and holds up well . . . carolyn t

  18. Pies are great but how many calories are in it

    said on November 22nd, 2017:

    How many calories

    A slice that’s 1 1/2″ wide at the edge is 310 calories. That’s small, so I’d guess more, and if you add whipped cream (I do, for sure) then it’s probably well over 400 calories. If you don’t eat the crust you’ll be reducing a good percentage of the calories, but heck, that’s no fun! They base the calories on each pie cut into 12 slices. . . carolyn t

  19. Steve fenner

    said on November 22nd, 2017:

    Love it

  20. Steve fenner

    said on November 22nd, 2017:

    Love those pies how many calories?

    Each 1 1/2″ wide slice is 310 calories. That’s smaller than a standard slice, so I’d guess it’s probably over 400 calories for a 2″ slice. Then there’s whipped cream. They base the calories on each pie serving 12 people . . . . carolyn t

  21. John

    said on November 22nd, 2017:

    My wife and I were discussing pumpkin pie and the question rose about where and when and how they are prepared. Are they prepared in advance and frozen and baked in the store? Who makes the crust or is it mixed up in the store? Basically, do they make pies from scratch in each store or what?

    When I wrote up this post, Costco was making everything from scratch in their regional kitchens. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, but then, I’m not really privy to the inner workings of their procurement and products. I do not believe they freeze them (there would be deterioration of the crusts for sure). They make tens of thousands of them, that I know! . . . carolyn t

  22. Meherunisa p

    said on November 23rd, 2017:

    Please send me all ingredients as I am allergic to lard.

    They don’t use lard. If you go to my post about the pie, you’ll now see a photo of the ingredient list. . . carolyn t

  23. daniel

    said on November 29th, 2017:

    no lard.

    Thank you, Daniel! I visited Costco yesterday and snapped a photo of the ingredient list, which I’ve now added to my post about Costco’s pumpkin pies. And you’re right, no lard. I didn’t think so! . . . carolyn t

  24. Mark

    said on December 12th, 2017:

    Over the Holiday season we usually buy between 4 to 6 of these pies for different parties and gatherings. However, the last two pies purchased were severely under cooked. Today I am going to return the remains of the 2nd pie. (All but two pieces) We are very very disappointed.

    You are the 2nd person to tell me that they thought Costco’s bakeries aren’t doing such a good job anymore. I haven’t purchased one this year, so can’t comment about it. The other person felt they’d used some other combo of ingredients (poorer quality pumpkin, for instance). They commented that the pie didn’t taste the same. Thanks for the heads up, Mark. . . carolyn t

  25. Wendy

    said on January 3rd, 2018:

    I believe, Steve, that the calories are figured on a slice that is 1/12 of the pie, not on a 1½” slice.

  26. Linda

    said on November 13th, 2018:

    can you freeze the pumpkin pies?

    Well, you probably CAN, but I don’t know that the crust will be all that great when defrosted. If you only froze it for a day or two, no problem. I’d cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressed against the filling itself, then wrap it all in foil. Good luck! . . . carolyn t

  27. Khadija

    said on November 24th, 2018:

    Do you know the source of the mono and diglycerides? Thanks!

    I have no idea – sorry about that. . . carolyn t

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