So, I love thanksgiving. I suppose I don’t get quite as giddy about it as I do about the Christmas season, but Christmas gets extended over many more days usually (food-wise, drink-wise, and fun-wise) and thanksgiving is just a concentrated, one shot deal. I love thanksgiving because for the most part (and in Canada, at least) the holiday doesn’t have any real religious basis, and is mostly about giving THANKS for the harvest. I love the harvest! I also love autumn, and thanksgiving falls during the perfect part of autumn where it’s not so cold yet (how do Americans do it?!) and there’s often still these warm sunny days, but with the crisp breezes and leaves that fall brings. I have spent many a thanksgiving in Bright’s Grove going for a bike ride along the lake while the turkey is in the oven.
But I digress, the point is, that I love thanksgiving because it seems to exist for no other purpose than to bring family and friends together for good hearty food and drink. Which is basically what I want to do, like, every day. This year my parents went away (wah!) and to Savannah, Georgia no less (double wah! i wanna go!) and so I stayed in Toronto and made a mini vegetarian thanksgiving on Monday. I will post part two of this meal tomorrow, but today I want to tell you about The Pie.
See that? That’s the pumpkin that made it into my pie. “Huh?!” you say? It doesn’t look like a pumpkin? Well, I know. But it is. I went to pick up my CSA on Friday and intended to get a pie pumpkin when I was there. But when I got there, I couldn’t see any of the lil’ cuties there. So I asked if they had any, and Shannon (one of my trusty CSA peeps) told me to look in the bushel at my feet and pull out the long green squashy thing. She told me it was a pumpkin, and that it actually makes the best pumpkin pie. It’s an heirloom variety called the “long pie pumpkin” and she’d only had pie made with a long pie for the first time last year, but said that she can never go back now. The internet also told me that puree made from a long pie has a tendency to be much less watery, which is great because I was not really in the mood to have to go buy cheesecloth and strain my pumpkin glop overnight in the sink, you know?
I already sort of talked about how to cook a pumpkin when I talked about the curry I made a couple weeks ago, but basically chop it up, steam it, slip the skin off, and then in this case, puree it in a food processor. I did the pumpkin cooking and pureeing on Saturday evening, and kept the puree in the fridge overnight, tightly covered.
On Sunday morning, before work, I actually made the pie itself. I took the pumpkin puree out of the fridge in the morning to warm up a bit, because it seemed like it should be more like room temperature than ice cold. I basically followed the recipe for pumpkin pie from my Joy of Cooking book, though I didn’t pre-bake the pie shell at all, because it seemed like a lot of trouble and we never did that growing up. I did put the pie shell (once rolled out and in the pie plate) in the fridge for a good half hour before adding the filling to bake it. If you don’t pre-bake or chill it then I suspect you’ll end up with a bottom crust that is total mush.
The filling is basically 2-3 eggs, beaten, 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (or cream), 2 cups of pumpkin puree, some white sugar and some more brown sugar (i used about 1/3 cup of each I think) and your spices. Generous amounts of ground ginger and ground cinnamon, and then smaller amounts of nutmeg, allspice and cloves. I used the smallest spec of ground cloves because I share my mother’s aversion to clove-flavour, but wanted to make sure I got the all-round pumpkin pie flavour. Create your tinfoil crust protection space pie thing (see above – this is how you avoid burning the edge of your crust – you can take it off for the last little bit of the bake time) and put that baby in the oven. Carefully, because it’s gonna slosh. Probably best to put the pie on a baking sheet before pouring the filling it so that it’s easier to carry over to the oven, but I didn’t do this and I survived. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes. Basically until firm, which means that if you give it a jiggle it doesn’t look really sloshy. It’s still going to be moist, and it will definitely continue to cook a bit more in the pie plate once it’s out of the oven. So PLEASE, don’t make the same mistake I made last year and let your mom and aunt watch the pie for the last little bit, after they’ve insisted it’s still undercooked, only to come back downstairs and have them tell you that they wrecked your pie and that they saw the pie filling literally BOILING in and bubbling in the dish in the oven. Blackened pumpkin pie is NOT Southern delicacy, nor a Northern one. (Sorry Mom and Glenda – how could I talk about this year’s pie without mentioning last year’s?)
Isn’t she cute? On Monday we had this for dessert (alongside hot toddys for Carly and I, and tea for the teatotalling Kat and Mara) and it was totally good. We’d been reading and laughing and making fun of this cookbook of mine that has awful non-puns and anecdotes, and someone starting calling the author a “chocolate slut” and then Mara bit into her piece of pie and said “This is really good! You’re no chocolate slut!”.
An unorthodox compliment, but a good one, and I’ll take it. I wish I had 3 more of these pies. More Thanksgiving stuff to come tomorrow…