Monday, November 20, 2006

Giving thanks

We celebrated Thanksgiving early this year. A good family friend was off to Sydney for radiotherapy on Sunday morning, so we gathered for the traditional feast on Saturday night.

(For those of you who don't know, we celebrate this because we're transplanted Americans. But not the Republican kind. Honest.)

By "traditional", I mean turkey, stuffing (not actually stuffed in the bird, made separately, because we need a lot of stuffing), cranberry sauce, green beans with slivered almonds, roasted potatoes. The NZ flavour was provided courtesy of asparagus (out of season in the northern hemipshere) and roasted kumara.

My job was to make the pumpkin pies. I make a very, very good pumpkin pie. And apart from the pastry, which I buy (hell, even Jamie Oliver tells us to buy it, why fight it?), it's all made from scratch.

This means buying the pumpkins (out of season), chopping them up, steaming the bits, scraping the pumpkin from the ring, mashing it, and removing any stringy bits you can find (harder than it sounds), and letting it cool. I understand you can buy canned pumpkin in the US for htis specific purpose. Clever people.

The pumpkin done, you add the eggs, the sugar, the milks (evaporate and regular), and the spices.

Ah the spices, so dear to my heart. The otheriwse-reliable recipe in my Fannie Farmer cookbook advises a bit of salt and a measly amount of one spice. I couldn't even tell you which spice, because when it comes to the spices, I ignore the book.

Instead, I add loads of nutmeg, and twice as much cinnamon. I add half as much mace, ginger and cardamom, and half again of cloves (bad experiences with over-cloving, so I'm cautious). And if it doesn't look quite right, I add some more cinnamon. You can't really over-cinnamon anything.

The baking is odd if you follow the recipe - I suspect that there's a typo in a fairly important place. 425F (215C) for 10 minutes, then 40 min or so at 310F (150C). But it takes more like 2 1/2 hours at the second temperature, so I'm guessing that they really meant 410F. I don't know, because I know how long it takes at the lower temperature, and I don't want to risk screwing up my pie by trying something different.

I like the pie quite cold. It's healthiest with yoghurt, but I prefer it with Cool Whip - not that I've had any in the past 20 years. (Ah, Cool Whip, how I loved you!) If you're a piggie like me, you'll make and bring 2 pies, then take the second, untouched one home to share begrudgingly with your beloved and the neighbours.

Begrudgingly, because I love me some pumpkin pie, and it's a big effort to make. But share I will, because it will make me a big Fatty McBlobbington if I don't.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year, but right now pumpkin pie is right up there.

5 Comments:

Anonymous ruth said...

ohh ok, that explains it... you being a transplated american... i was wondering why you were celebrating thanksgiving! =)

9:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

go the pumpkin pie....my old neighbour used to make us one every year and I did love it but I knew he used tinned pumpkin, so I've never had the real thing...

As for pastry, make it yourself. Really. I only just learned and I reckon it's about as much as I've had in the kitchen in ages. it's sooooo satisfying! And I bet Jamie does make his own!

10:55 am  
Blogger Violet said...

I never realised your were American - not that it means anything, I suppose. Pumpkin pie is nice, but a good roast turkey is amazing.

7:10 pm  
Blogger The Skirt said...

Ruth & Violet: yeah, I haven't hidden it, but I keep forgetting people don't know that. I don't have the accent, just the penchant for odd food combinations.

Bells: he always says "ah bugger it, buy the pastry" - but I bet he would make his own. I'm not that dedicated - it cuts into my knitting time, and after the shenanigans with the pumpkin, I'm all for a shortcut!

10:46 am  
Blogger The Skirt said...

Oh and Violet, you're right, a proper roast turkey is fantastic. I think my dad's "secret" (he tells anyone who will listen) is that cooks it on a Weber grill, then he rests the turkey in tinfoil in the chilly bin for over an hour, so it continues to cook a bit but not lose moisture. Or something to that effect. The turkey was lovely and moist anyway!

10:48 am  

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