November 30, 2010

Morning After Pumpkin Pie


Meanwhile . . . it’s still cold.  And you’ll be hustling along after your hellhounds trying to warm up enough to stop your teeth chattering and your fingers burning*, so you’re also breathing shallowly because that air in your nice warm lungs is cold, and sooner or later the imbalance between output and input catches up with you and you are forced to take a long, deep, painful breath and . . . it smells like snow.  AAAAUGH.  According to the forecast we’re going to have flurries for the next several days, culminating in proper snow which will then turn to sleet this weekend.**  So charming.  Whoever pissed the weather gods off, can we please stake them outside the village walls for the tigers, Skadi, Boreas, Beira, or whoever, and get on with our lives?  I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas, okay?  I’m dreaming of hurtling hellhounds without getting knotted up in Chaos’ dranglefabbing slightly-too-small coat*** which will not stay where it’s put, but moseys around like a housefly on a wall.

            This disagreeable weather continues to rouse memories of holidays past in regions where snow for Thanksgiving was not unheard-of and snow for Christmas planned for.†   And I had a long conversation with Hannah this afternoon including comparative Thanksgiving dinners, and hers wins, since she was catering for the multitudes, and for the American multitudes at that, who have expectations.††  And specifically what I found myself remembering was one or two unsatisfactory Thanksgivings from the dim and distant past, and coming home afterward to a cold house without even any of the right leftovers in the refrigerator because I’d had dinner somewhere else, and feeling out of sorts because however admirable the dinner and enlivening the company, certain specific Thanksgiving cravings had not been slaked.  Take pumpkin.  I love pumpkin.  I realise this is not a universal philosophy.  There are people who positively dislike pumpkin.  These unnatural creatures have even been known to host Thanksgiving dinner . . . and fail to produce pumpkin pie. 

            On one of these occasions I came home late Sunday night, tired, cranky, and jonesing like a koala bereft of eucalyptus.  Monday morning I went out in a purposeful manner, got a bargain on tinned pumpkin and made the following:

 Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie 

1 9” unbaked pie crust

1 c mashed cooked or tinned pumpkin (DON’T use so-called ‘pumpkin pie filling’)

1 c apple butter:  herewith begins the lecture.  It all depends on your apple butter.  You want something as thick as possible, and preferably not too sweet, but use what you like

¼ to ½ c dark brown sugar, depending on your apple butter

Again, the amount of spices you use will depend on the spiciness of your apple butter.  So, approximately ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ginger.  I like sweet spices and would expect to use 1 tsp cinnamon, but if I’m using apple butter that I also made, this may be overkill

3 eggs

½ c evaporated milk

Probably a tablespoon or two of ordinary milk

Combine pumpkin, apple butter, brown sugar, spices.  (Mush up the brown sugar in a little of the pumpkin first, so it’ll beat in smoothly.)  Beat eggs together vigorously, then lightly into the pumpkin.  Stir in about half the evaporated milk and look at what you’ve got.  It should look gloppy but not runny.  (It helps if you’re used to what ordinary pumpkin pie filling looks like raw.  This will be darker and have more texture because of the apple butter, but it should be about the same consistency.)  If it’s already runny, stop now.  If it still looks kind of La Brea Tar Pitsy, stir in the rest of the evaporated milk.  Now look at it again.  If it’ll actually keep its shape in a spoon, that’s too gloppy:  add a little milk.  If it slowly oozes over the edge of the spoon—perfect. 

            Pour in the unbaked pie shell.  I cover the edges with tin foil so they don’t burn.  400°F for about 10 minutes, then lower to 350° and start checking after about 20 more minutes.  You want it set but not shrivelled, and you want to take the tin foil off the edges of the crust about 15 minutes before you take the pie out.  I usually figure 45-50 minutes total.

             As I recall it took me four days to get through it.  It was gone by the weekend—I did have a friend round once for a cup of tea and a slice of pie.  That was back in the days when I had a metabolism however . . . and also I lived alone, so if I wanted to have a glass of cranberry juice and a quarter of a pie for supper, it was my business.

* * *

* although the woolly liners in the All Stars are a great success in preventing the “ . . .Oh, oh! My feet of fire! My burning feet of fire . . . !” thing, although a lack of wendigoes in southern England is also helpful.

** Penelope and Niall are being punished for leaving the Deputy Ringing Master in feeble and desperate charge for something so mere and frivolous as a holiday.

*** He is also dreaming of this

† Things I have never once been nostalgic for include the set of chains that lived in the boot of your car.  Yes, I keep telling you, I am that old. 

†† Someone on the forum wanted to know how you go about having Thanksgiving in England.  Basically you just roast your fowl of choice, slap a few platters of this and that on the table, line up the pies on the sideboard and shout, Yo!  Dinner!   The one standard I did officially allow to slip, back when we were at the (large) old house and had things like dinner parties cough cough cough COUGH which is to say feedable people in the vicinity, was to have the Thanksgiving blow-out on the following Saturday, since British employers don’t give you the Thursday and Friday off.


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