Well, the election confusion cycles on as Biden selects cabinet posts that may never be filled, as Trump pursues a Sisyphean task of trying to convince legislatures and courts that the election was incurably flawed. We will wait to see how this all pans out by January 20 . . . if neither of the very old white guys dies from old age before then! (“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.” Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War)
The coronavirus continues to attack people who attend church services, but seems to give protesters and leftist celebrators a pass. My wife and I both tested negative for the virus, but also negative for the antibody, meaning we could still get infected if we are not vigilant. Approaching the “high-risk” age group, we are inclined to take the virus more seriously than some younger friends who have been infected and quickly recovered; even gained their sense of smell back in a couple days.
So I decided to take a day off for Thanxgiving, celebrating with my bride of 31 years. She cooked up my favorite lamb, God’s own best choice for delicious meat since Noah came off the ark! This time, it was shank with rice and spinach, with pumpkin pie for dessert. But the Pumpkin Pie was my creation! Ingredients to preassemble:
- 15-16 ounces pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar (a 1/2 cup tastes good, too)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I prefer to go light here, also – 1tsp)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) Evaporated Milk
- 3 medium to extra-large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ignoring the online advice to use only “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins” I used the big Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin we had drawn on for Halloween. “Unspoiler” alert: it works fine and is not significantly stringy if you clean out the fibrous seed network adequately. This was unquestionably the most labor intensive and hardest part of doing a pumpkin pie! I separated the seeds from the mush and saved them to roast later.
A BIG mistake was cutting the pumpkin into small (1″ to 2″) squares for cooking. If I ever do this again, I would cut the huge Jack-o-Lantern into eighths or 16ths at the smallest for stove top boiling, because the separating of the meat from the rind took a lot of time and tedium with soooo many small pieces.
Covering the pieces with water, I could only fit in 1/2 of the pumpkin in our largest pot. A better way may be to quarter the pumpkin and bake it in the oven. In either case, you just have to get the meat soft so it will separate from the rind; about 5 minutes of boiling. Let it cool and then spoon off the meat from the rind. LOTs of little pieces to work with, LOTs of pumpkin squares to chill; my mother always called this one photo “cook’s privilege:’ to sample the goods in process. Cooked pumpkin, just as it is, is delicious!
When you are ready to cook the pies, simply puree the pumpkin. I separated the puree into 15oz ‘lots’ for pies, and for freezing. (The puree is good in the fridge for seven days, and in the freezer for four months.) This is where I recognized there was very little stringiness to the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin. The cooked meat blended up very easily with an old hand mixer. Then I assembled every thing I needed for the first pie.
Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves to a one-quart saucepan, whisk to combine and stirring CONSTANTLY, cook over high heat for four minutes, or until the mixture kind of boils for about one minute. STIR CONSTANTLY!!
Finally add the evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk together.
Pour your mixture into the pie crust (Okay, I cheated and bought preformed crusts, because I have never baked a crust before!) Fill the pie as full as you wish, as it will not shrink significantly baking, nor does it boil over like berries. Since I had some extra filling left over, I put some into silicone muffin cups and baked along with the pie. Set your thermostat for 350F and bake for about 35 minutes, in case your oven is inaccurate so you can check it before it overbakes. If it is precise, you can set your timer for 45 minutes (40-50 minutes is recommended by most recipes; the center should barely jiggle when touched).
The first came out SOOOO good, I got adventuresome and did two at once to save baking time, and to give to friends. Once I got done making the puree, the rest was a piece of cake . . . or pie in this circumstance. YUMMmmmm.
Next time, I’m going to try a praline pecan topping or alternate flavoring to the vanilla extract: peppermint pumpkin, anyone? Or maybe almond or macadamia nut? Hmm, I wonder what lychee pumpkin would taste like? 😉