Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some really good days!!

After the lethargy and depression that was Thursday afternoon, Thursday night turned out to be just right.  Once that pitiful excuse for the sun set (at 4:30, mind you) and then once my brain decided that it could in fact agree with the light to time ratio (dark before 8 pm is just WRONG), I found myself typing feverishly.  

And what I wrote was good.

This is important.  I can write a lot of words - I'm a fairly competent typist and can hammer the keys at an acceptable speed, but I cannot guarantee quality to go with the quantity.  More than once I have caught myself writing the same sentence again and again with slight variations in vocabulary to make a paragraph.  Then I read over it and proclaim "this sucks!" and I start again.  I have days where I have re-written the same paragraph again and again.  Thankfully, Thursday ended up not being one of those days.

My husband then returned from his "internship retreat" where all the journalist interns from his year were rounded up and babbled at for a day and a half.  He had the rest of Friday off and that meant that he was in the office doing his thing and keeping me from doing mine.  

Fortunately, I had planned for this.  I was determined to try to make pumpkin pie and Friday was a very good day for it.  No one else was around and I could make as big a mess as I wanted.  Which I did, because making a pumpkin pie from scratch is a messy affair.

How "from scratch" was it?

I started with a light blue pumpkin and a bag of flour.  That's how "from scratch" it was.  I had to boil and mash the pumpkin before I could even begin to make the pie filling.  I also had to make the pie crust.

The pumpkin I used is the one on the left.  That's a Queensland blue pumpkin.  Note the amazingly thick rind and flesh of that pumpkin.  Do you know how hard it is to cut through all that?  This is why you do not make jack-o-lanterns out of any old type of pumpkin nor do you use jack-o-lantern pumpkins to make pies.  This is important to know since you need to make a lot of pumpkin mash to make your pie filling from scratch.  You want to buy a pumpkin with this amount of orange fleshy bits.  My 4 pound pumpkin yielded 6 cups of pumpkin mash.  A regular old sugar pumpkin weighing 4 pounds will only give you 1.5 cups.  You need 2 cups of mash to make a pie.

Full disclosure: I had no idea if I bought the right kind of pumpkin when I picked this one up.  I just knew I didn't want to buy the jack-o-lantern or decorative pumpkin.  This one said "good for soups and baking" on the label.  

It took me a good half hour to hack this one into chunks to be boiled.  Then I had to remove the rind.  Then I had to mash it.

Meanwhile, I am always being told by cooking shows and cook books that there is no excuse for not making your own pie crust and that they are SO EASY.  They are wrong.  It is only easy to make pie crust if you have a Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer with a pastry attachment (aka flat beater).  Blessed be, I do have one of these.  Honestly, this machine has changed my life.  Anyway, you can make pie crusts without this machine, but it is not easy.  It involves cutting butter into flour and then adding small bits of water at a time, mixing but not over mixing the dough etc etc etc.

So, I had made my pumpkin mash and my pie crust, it was then a walk in the park to assemble the rest of the pie.  I think I made my crust a bit thick (i.e. I didn't roll it out thin enough) because not all of the pie filling fit into my pie.  Oh well.  Into the oven it went.

Of the entire process, this was the bit that had me the most concerned.  The oven isn't exactly stable - in many respects.  I tried the old medieval approach.  This is where you fire up the oven as hot as you can get it, then turn it down after you put the food in.  The heat from the oven, originally too hot, will slowly dissipate, but cook your food while it does so.  This way you don't have one heat source burning your food on one end while the other side stays raw.

This actually worked!  And while I was testing the pie for done-ness, I pulled the tray too far out and the whole thing came crashing down.  The pie stayed intact.  So did the door to the oven, strangely enough.  This was proof to me that my baking was done.

The pie sat while we had dinner and then afterwards we whipped up some whipped cream (because whipped cream does not come ready made around here) and dug in.

It was fan-f#cking-tastic.  I haven't had pumpkin pie in donkey's years, so you might suggest that my palate was fooled.  But I'd have to disagree.  Perfect consistency.  Perfect amount of spices.  Naturally sweet (no sugar used in any part of this recipe).  Oh, lordy, it was perfect.

I sang and danced in my chair.  And overate.  Oh well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so very jealous. You and your husband need to pack up your kitchenaid mixer, your mac and move your asses to california where we actually have days, not just short breaks in the night and where you can make me yummy food and we don't have to resort to one of us staying up all night so we can actually have a decent conversation.

    Had a great time talking to you. I love you and miss you!!


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