THE ADVENTURE OF THE PUMPKIN PIE
I am not the pie baker in the family for our Thanksgiving dinner (which we will foregather to consume tomorrow). My second daughter is the best pie baker in her generation of my family—a direct descendant from my mother and Grandma Jenkins. Thus, when I have a blue-ribbon pie baker, why should I go to all that work once a year? Besides, what someone else’s pie/cookies/casserole always tastes better than the one I made, if only because I didn’t have to clean up after it and the aroma is new to me.
So, why did I bake a pumpkin pie?
Because of the aforementioned hankering.
Let me digress here a little: Hankerings are dangerous things. They lead you into deep, dark tunnels of experience. They begin whispering in your ear, promising great things. They can push you into trying the new, the different, the dangerous—or the downright foolhardy.
Pumpkin pie . . . pumpkin pie . . . firm but melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin/egg/milk/spices . . . in a tender crust just the right color . . . .
I let myself be led and pushed into making a pumpkin pie.
If I were writing instructions for a non-pie baker who had never before made a pumpkin pie, I’d be very, very specific, along these lines:
- · Purchase a ready-made crust. (I did.)
- · Purchase “Pumpkin Pie Mix”—not individual ingredients. (I bought the can.)
- · Read the label on the Pumpkin Pie Mix can carefully—mindfully—make sure you understand what you read. (I, alas, did not.)
Well, I did understood, more or less, but I was not careful enough, mindful enough, and therefore, here’s what happened:
o The can of mix you’re holding in your hand
o A 5-oz. can of condensed milk (2/3 cup)
o 2 eggs
o A 9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie pastry (4-cup volume)
That’s it. Easy-peasy, right?
I must’ve been living in another time (the time warps in this house can be tricky to negotiate) because I just knew I needed a 12-oz. can of condensed milk. After all, I've made pumpkin pie for, well, decades. The cans of milk that size are right there, next to the cans of pumpkin, on the big central aisle display (impeding the flow of traffic, I might add—but that’s another story). So, I bought the 12-oz. can of condensed milk (which nowadays—I told you about the time warp—is 14 oz.).
For eggs I use egg substitute. No problem there. I repeat: No problem there.
No problem with the crust. Well, not exactly. It wasn’t quite deep enough, so I had pie filling left over—actually, quite a lot of filling left over. (I’ll explain my brilliant solution to that problem in a minute.)
Back to the pie filling, waiting patiently on the counter:
- · Empty can of Pumpkin Pie Mix into large bowl.
- · Pour in can of milk (most of the 14 oz.)
- · Pour in egg sub equivalent to 2 eggs.
- · Have Moment of Awful Truth—“That’s too much milk!”
- · Hastily use a measuring cup to dip out as much milk as might equal 5 oz., taking with it some of the liquid egg sub.
- · Take a moment to breathe and decide: Should I scream and throw the whole thing at the wall, bowl and all? Cuss? Cry? Stamp my feet? None of the above?
- · Calmly fill the pie shell (as if I knew what I was doing all along)—put in the preheated oven—set the timer for 15 minutes.
- · While pie was baking, I googled “Crustless Pumpkin Pie” and found a perfectly practical way to use the leftover (excessive, wasteful, redundant) pie filling: Pour it into a shallow pie plate, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes more. Sprinkle top with pecans before baking, if desired. I did so desire. And it was good. (By the way, this was the brilliant solution referenced above.)
The crusted pumpkin pie seemed to take longer to bake; even though I’d covered the crust edges with a shield, it was darker than I like. To fix that problem, I left the dark brown edge on my plate and ate the rest. With real whipped cream. And it was very good.
Pretty straightforward, don’t you think? After all, I’ve done it once before.
Wishing you a wonderful, joyful, thankful day, full of good times, good food, laughter and love and life in abundance.
May all your pumpkin pies be beautiful ones!