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Amber Midthunder has a privilege that isn't afforded to many working actors: She shoots her TV show, Roswell, New Mexico, in her home state. When she leaves L.A. to be on location, she's actually going home, and because of this, she gets to spend the holidays surrounded by her family.
“I've been very fortunate,” Midthunder tells Glamour about shooting in her hometown of Santa Fe. “These last couple of seasons we've been shooting over the holidays. Thanksgiving is always a little bit tricky because we'd get off only one day or whatever, but now I've been fortunate to be able to be close to my family and spend as much as that time as I can or want to with them.”
Mindthunder plays Rosa on the CW sci-fi show, which is an adaptation of the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. The show has already been renewed for a fourth season and the actor reveals that she can't wait for fans to see a “new version" of her character. “I think she's a character that people have watched struggle a lot, and that's what I really appreciate about her,” Midthunder explains. “I really believe that with the topics that we address with her storyline, we do our best to make sure that we're showing it as real as possible. The last thing that we saw is that she went back to rehab and for anybody who goes back to rehab, there's many possibilities, but I'm excited for people to watch her journey.”
The Native American actor is a member of the Fort Peck Sioux tribe and has family on her father's side who live in Montana. When she has a break from work, she spends time with her family. The gatherings are usually “intimate” because not everyone makes it for each holiday. However, there is always one consistency on Thanksgiving and Christmas: her family's homemade pecan pie.
“The thing about this recipe is that it's kind of cool with traditions and development because it's changed its shape a little bit over the years,” Midthunder says. “The one that I gave you guys is somewhere between my grandpa's and my mom's recipe that I, like, came up with with my mom. We tweaked a few things.”
One of her most “intense” memories of the pecan pie is when she was tasked with cooking the Thanksgiving meal by herself. “My mom was doing Thanksgiving and she had an emergency dental surgery on the Wednesday before,” she says. “So we wake up on Thursday and my mom's like, ‘Amber it's on you.’ She was like, ‘I'm sorry, but you've got to do Thanksgiving.’ I was like 16 and she was like, ‘Just go.’ I did an entire Thanksgiving by myself and my dad and I broke into the pies early—that was our thing. We were like, ‘If we're in charge of Thanksgiving, then desserts go first.’ I remember when she came to, she was like, ‘Where did the pie go?’”
Midthunder's love of desserts started at an early age. She watched her mom in the kitchen and eventually began experimenting on her own. “I think as I get older, I appreciate meals because they represent a lot of culture,” she admits. “It's very nurturing to host and feed people and take care of their bodies. I guess as I get older I'm interested in regular cooking. When I was in high school…I don't remember the day that I woke up and just decided that I love baking. But there definitely was a day that I woke up and decided I love baking.”
As part of Glamour's ongoing series That Thing I Always Cook, she's sharing her mom's secret ingredient pecan pie recipe with us, which was originally created by her grandpa!
Amber Midthunder’s Homemade Pecan Pie
1 cup, plus a handful all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
⅓ cup cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
3–4 tbsp. ice water
Mix flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Mash in butter, using two butter knives and then a fork, until mixture forms crumbs like peas. Sprinkle with ice water, one spoonful at a time, tossing with a fork until the flour is just moist (more water can be added by the spoonful, if necessary).
Mold pastry into a ball, then mash into a flattened round on a lightly floured surface. Wrap airtight in a repurposed produce bag and refrigerate for about an hour until the dough is cold, yet not too hard.
Roll out the crust with a rolling pin dusted in flour, and then use the rolling pin to transfer the dough to a glass baking pan.
1 cup corn syrup
⅔ cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter (melted but not hot)
½ tsp. real vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract
2 cups pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust (or frozen pie crust)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix eggs (not too much), then stir in sugar, butter, and extracts. Add half of the pecans.
Pour filling into pie crust.
With the remainder of the pecans, place one pecan in the center of the pie on top of the filling, then place the rest in concentric circles from the center to the edge.
Bake on the center rack of the oven for 55 to 70 minutes (depending on your elevation and oven heat style).
Paulina Jayne Isaac is an editor and writer based in Philadelphia.
Originally Appeared on Glamour