Monthly Archives: November 2016

PSA on Pumpkin Pie

imag9688.jpg

Back in the day, before Miguel, before owning a building, before marriage, I had a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated. Those were the days of much entertaining in the guise of (non)planning meetings for Critical Mass in the little coach house on Paulina. Everything I made from that magazine turned out perfect (except when I left the sugar out of the cheesecake, which Gareth charitably reframed as an appetizer), and I loved its lengthy articles disguised as recipes and its focus on science and process.

In the mid-90’s, I made a pie from this boldly named recipe: The Only Pumpkin Pie Recipe You’ll Ever Need.* It Was Awesome. And awesomely a PITA to make. But it remained a staple until my baking attention span shrunk to the scope of instructions on the Libby pumpkin can label, i.e., after home ownership and kiddo.

imag9679.jpg
Oops, didn’t mean to put allspice in pic. Supposed to be cloves. Immersion blender is on top of pan of filling. Cuisinart and icy booze are for making the crust.

 I recall my trepidation when I bravely decided to try a different recipe. It felt like a betrayal. I already had the Only Pumpkin Pie Recipe I’d Ever Need. But Libby’s short paragraph won out over Cook’s two page, 8 point font treatise.  However, I did remember two key tips from those halcyon baking days:

  • When using canned pumpkin (oh, the horror!), cook it on low heat for a bit. This supposedly releases any lingering notes of whatever funk cans impart.
  • Blend the pie mixture to smooth out any fibrousness.
  • I also upped the spices and added nutmeg, just because.

The pie was awesome, and awesomely easy!

So, here are my modifications to “Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe”

  • Mix pumpkin goop, evaporated milk, sugar, and spices in a pan and cook over low heat for a while.
  • Use an immersion blender to make it silky smooth. Mix in eggs.
  • Bonus tip: Let pan sit for a bit so the bubbles evaporate and/or lift the pot an inch and drop it on the counter a few times. Basically, whack out those air bubbles. Pour mixture into crust carefully to avoid adding more air pockets. Repeat dropping procedure if that’s the kind of thing you are into. (I find it strangely satisfying.) This also works well if you like
  • Proceed per Libby’s cooking instructions.

*Cook’s doesn’t give this recipe away for free, but I did find it faithfully recorded in this blog post, which is also a rumination on Team Libby and Team Cook’s. http://www.thedeliciouslife.com/pumpkin-pie-recipe-cooks-illustrated/

**Did you know standard immersion blenders also fit into the mouths of mason jars? Great for salad dressings and whipping up a little bit of cream. And you never have to transfer hot soup to a blender again!

 

Advertisements

A Slow, Full Teardrop

Early this morning, I swaddled myself with the large purple blanket and lay down on the upstairs couch. It is Miguel’s cocoon when he watches teevee, and it holds the smell of his hair and the echoes of the videos he loves. (Hello, Dan TDM!)

I took a deep breath and prayed for Miguel, the 10 year old light of my life who has wrangled with his share of shadows.

I do not believe in God, so praying is always a little awkward, but over the years Notgod and I have developed an understanding (I hope!) which helps me focus on the feelings at hand instead of getting caught in a recursive loop of apologizing to Godifyouexist for appropriating the habits of true believers.

speck
Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Carl Sagan, and Douglas Adams–so formative for this secular humanist.

Please let Miguel’s eye surgery go well.* Please let this be a good decision. Please let him be calm about the general anesthesia. Please, please, please, please let his vision improve or at the least be no worse.  And, selfishly, very selfishly: If there are  complications or disappointments or unpleasant side effects (of course there will be at least some), please let him forgive us and the world. Please, universe*, let him know how much he is loved, let him feel that love to his core. Please let that be a light during dark times.

Horizontal tears move slowly, descending the contours of our faces like switchback down a mountain. A fat one rolled along the ridge of my nose and curved around my nostril.  It paused and quivered before dropping to the corner of my mouth. Still intact, the ball of salty water followed the slope of my lips until it found a place to rest for a while. Eventually it relaxed into a wet spot back under my nose.

Water is amazing. Soft enough to wash a baby, strong enough to split mountains. It can tremble between a liquid and solid state, surface tension holding it together, even if just for a few seconds. In freezing, it preserves warmth, expanding like a down* comforter to protect what lives below.

IMAG2635.jpg
Lady’s Mantle from my garden after an April showers to flowers.

Tears are apparently amazing, too, featuring different chemical profiles depending on their trigger. See See Rose-Lynn Fisher’s Topography of Tears project. I’m not sure what recipe was called up to make this morning’s tear. Not sadness or joy, anger or pain. Not even fear, though that might be the closest emotion.

I think I was just swelled up with love. They say a drop of water holds the universe. Maybe the tear was a conjuring of that complicated vastness, a reassurance that my love is more broad and deep than I ever can fathom.  Maybe I needed to feel it in the universe, held in a drop of water.

Please help me show Miguel that our love is infinite, never contingent, always expanding. 

tearsofhope

*Elective cataract surgery on one eye. Long story. Not a life or death situation.
*I no more believe the “universe” listens and has agency than I believe in a deity. But I don’t feel too disingenuous yawping into the ether. Forces, vibrations, we’re all stardust, that sort of thing. I’m sure Godifyouexist understands.
*Synthetic, please.