21 November 2007

Can she bake a pretty pie, charming Billy?

This year for Thanksgiving at Dad & Audrey's I am tasked with making a couple of pies, a task I am happy to take on. Building a pie, especially an apple pie, involves three things that make me happy: cooking, puttering, and watching tv.

I think that I was tasked with pies because when left to my own choice, it seems that I bring the sorts of vegetables that only I like: parsnips, turnips, chestnuts, brussels sprouts. Pies contain none of those things.

The single longest step in a building an apple pie is coring, peeling, and slicing the apples, which frees up the mind admirably to watch silly over-the-top procedurals. Criminal Minds, tragically isn't nearly as over-the-top as CSI: Any Damn Place, but then they only have Thomas Gibson acting as though he were employed by Jack Webb. And let's face it, if you don't have a meglomaniacal leprechaun as as your first-billed, you're working at a disadvantage, humor-wise. But --- I digress.

Last night I made the pumpkin pie - my first. I don't eat pumpkin pie very often, so I'd never bothered to learn how to make them. Turns out that it's veee-rrr-yyy easy:

Measure the dry ingredients;
Beat the eggs;
Add the pumpkin and the dry ingredients to the eggs;
Slow beat in the evaporated milk;
Pour into unbaked pie shell
Put in a very hot oven;
After 15 minutes reduce the heat on the oven and bake another 45 minutes.

Ta da!

It looks right but I won't really know how it turned out until tomorrow. Could be fabulous, could suck. Wish me luck!

Tonight I built the apple pie. So seeemple.

Take several apples and wash them, peel about half of them, core and slice them;
Toss them in a bowl with enough cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to make you smile;
Add other ingredients that catch your eye, like, oh, candied ginger, dried cranberries or cherries that you've rehydrated with boiling water, stuff like that;
Pile into a pie shell and top with chopped pecans;
Bake in a 350-degree oven until done.

I've only ever messed up two apple pies and one didn't count. The one that counted was a couple of Thanksgivings ago when I tried to make a gluten-free crust. Here's a piece of advice for free: buckwheat flour may contain no gluten but it turns pie crust grey. Grey is not an appetizing color for pie crust. Ever. Fortunately for me, Whole Foods now makes gluten-free pie shells. I didn't even look to see how much they cost because, well, we all know that I was gonna pay it. So this year's pies are rejoicing in properly colored crusts. All together now: Whew.

The messed up apple pie that doesn't count was some years ago when I forgot how much liquid an apple can give up while baking, especially when rubbing elbows with brown sugar. Your average pie needs about a teaspoon of liquid. That time I added about a tablespoon and what should have been a yummy pie was a yummy ice cream topping. It was, however, it should be noted, still yummy.

So David and I are off to Dad and Audrey's tomorrow and I'm visiting Mom on Sunday. Mom asked what I would like and I voted for her cranberry relish, my favorite. So we'll have brunch downstairs and then go up to her place for cranberry relish and stuff. Mom's cranberry relish, by the way, is excellent on gluten-free toaster waffles.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I, once again, have more blessings than I can count and am grateful for all of them and hope you are the same.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

I think I've been baking holiday pies since I was tall enough to reach the stovetop without a chair. One story: Sister #2 was baking her first pumpkin pie to take to her new in-laws' Thanksgiving. She used our grandmother's recipe and followed it to the letter. It tasted OK, but looked a bit swirly, as the instructions did not include the crucial direction "mix". (It's one of those older recipes that assumes you only need a recipe for the ingredients' proportions.) So she didn't. Her defense? "I always did the vegetables. Maureen & sister #3 were the pie sisters!" Makes us sound like an act on Lawrence Welk. :D

Hmm, cherries or cranberries in the apple pie? Sounds promising. I had a friend who sometimes included fresh (NOT dried!) apricots. But I'd never dare bake anything but straight apple for Thanksgiving or Christmas. There's no purist like a holiday purist!

Is there gluten in graham cracker crumbs? If not, I've got a to-die-for rum cream pie recipe that's mandatory at our Christmas dinners. Kinda like egg nog but not quite as rich.