It's a great day in the 'Wack, the sun is shining, the trees are a patchwork of colour..but the best parts of my day? Finn and I have worked out a deal - if he wants to go to the park with slides and swings he has to sit in the stroller. To walk at a normal pace - without having to stop at every rock, to actually feel like I might be getting a bit of exercise? Fabulous. Another memorable part of the day? Leftover pie.
I know that this comes as no suprise, but I love to eat pie - though, really, who doesn't. The problem is making it. Making a pie crust is too much like work: the rolling, the floury counter (and floor, and cupboards, and fridge handle..). I love food, I like to eat, I like to cook but I admit it, I'm lazy. In the kitchen I like to take as many short cuts as possible to get to a delicious outcome. On our Thanksgiving trip to Victoria I left the parents' with two pumpkins from their garden. Now, with all my bravado about short-cuts I have to say that making pumpkin puree is not a shortcut. In fact, I can't say that I notice a difference in the pumpkin from the can and the big bowl full that I have in my fridge. The shortcut that I discovered this round is a pat-in-the-plate pie crust. No more rolling for me. This is an oil based crust so it loses that flaky quality, but for my pumpkin pie it was fabulous (and for those who care, trans-fat free!).
Cooking pumpkin isn't rocket science but my method is to use the microwave. I cut the pumpkin (or squash) into a few big pieces, scrape out the seeds, and then put the squash into a glass pyrex in the microwave. I microwave until soft and then set aside until cool. When cool, I peel the skin off, and puree the pumpkin using my brand new food processor. You want to make sure that the pumpkin is really soft so that the pureeing is quick and easy. Hard pieces make for chunks which makes for scraping down the sides of your blender/processor. The microwave method is convenient when Finn and I are puttering around in our PJs in the morning, but another great trick is just to chuck your pumpkin in when you already have the oven going with some other baking - pureeing pumpkin is all about stages, that way it seems like less work.
The pumpkin pie recipe I used is pretty standard - I won't post it because most pumpkin pie recipes are the same - the difference is that I used regular milk instead of the recommended evaporated milk or cream. I didn't notice a difference and suspect that the evaporated milk is a big marketing ploy - beyond the need to have access to canned milk, let's say while in the wilderness with no cows in the proximity- why is evaporated milk out there? If more people discovered this conspiracy, however, then Carnation would be out of business. Hhhhmm.. would anyone be interested in my latest inspiration: Food X Files? I digress, here is my new crust short-cut. I'm thinking of trying an apple-crumb topped pie variation.
1) Combine: 11/2 cup flour, 11/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt.
2) Make a well in the dry mixture and add: 2 T milk and 1/2 cup canola oil
3) Pat into a pie plate.
There you have it. Pie crust. It's that easy!
Before I sign off I need make a second request for your apple bread recipe (sadly we just finished your last half loaf from the freezer). A little birdy told me you might have a new teaching job? Drop me a post!