Since I’m waiting for my pumpkin pie to bake, I suppose I can start reminiscing on the first pies I made at home.
Every Thanksgiving, my sisters and I have the responsibility of making dessert. The adults never cared for it so if the kids want it, they have to make it. Ah baking. One of my favorite things to do in the world! There’s just something so satisfying to accomplish something so tedious.
Our very first American Thanksgiving dinner came in a box. Seriously. There was literally a kit that you can order from the store and they would ship you this frozen turkey with all the trimmings that you could prepare on the side. Everything was pretty much frozen. All you had to do was thaw, mix and heat it up. Our family never prepared a 22 lb bird before. I just remember sitting around watching my parents take shifts to brush on the butter and herbs for hours. I don’t remember how the food turned out but I do remember it was the first time my sisters attempted to make homemade pies!
We religiously watched Julia Child and Martha Stewart— the goddesses of the kitchen. My parents took on their advice for the turkey while my sisters and I compared and contrasted techniques to make pie crusts and fillings. For some strange reason we decided to do sweet potato and squash pies instead of pumpkin pies. We broke out the food processor, the iced bowls, TONS of butter and flour, and rolling pins. It took forever to steam the squash and sweet potatoes, many tries to roll out the dough and transfer it into the pans. It was worth the effort. We ended up with 2 large pies and 3 little ones. That was more than enough for 12 people!
So from that day forth, pies were added to our menu. It’s been 40 minutes and the darn pie is still baking!
Lewis and I cooked for under $10 today. Can you believe it was enough for 4-5 servings? Ah! To cook on a college budget again. This needs to be a habit. I’m trying my best not to eat out this week and I broke it today, ha. I lasted 4 days.
The chilly weather is definitely kicking in and comfort food is calling me. Pumpkin desserts already visited last week so this week it’s soups, salads, and stews! So far it’s been tomato soup, my chicken apple cranberry salads, and curry. My tastebuds are hinting at chili and bread recipes, but they’re too heavy. I snuck a Nutella sandwich for breakfast this morning on my way to work and it made me want to roll my eyes back a little while I sipped my tea. Not the healthiest way to start the day, but it kept me smiling.
I’ll admit, my love for food is a little obnoxious sometimes.
I’ve been wanting to give bread making another shot. The last time I made bread was back in 2007, the battle between baking soda and yeast for my biochemistry cooking class. It took many trials and I ended up with a lot of bread to share. The obvious conclusion was that yeast kicked baking soda’s arse. If you want to create those air bubbles the more you knead, then stick with yeast! Baking soda is going to flatten the bread out and make it more dense. You can’t substitute ingredients to make good bread, so no shortcuts!
Did I learn? Apparently not. After tonight, I’m sticking to recipes that require a little more elbow grease.
The original plan was to make cinnamon rolls for Halloween but I put that off for pumpkin cheesecake and cream pie (yes, I am that fat). I refused to buy the $2 can from the store and attempted to make something from scratch. I searched Tastespotting’s site and came up with a recipe from The Kitchn. Mind you if you want to give this recipe a shot, be my guest.
With my ingredients ready and my hands ready to work in vain, the results of this experiment failed. I was embarrassed to document it. Definitely going to pick the harder looking recipe over the “easy” one.
At least I had Lewis with me, sharing the experience. There was more laughter than dancing tastebuds. It’s okay, I’m content with leaving this to the pros. I think the ridiculous realization of the night was that I probably spent more money getting the ingredients together than actually buying a can of pre-made rolls or the IKEA buns. We technically missed out on 36 perfectly made cinnamon rolls vs the 6 Jabba-the-Hut-looking ones we made.
So what went wrong? There wasn’t a compromise— the shortcut took out most of the work so I had no idea how the dough worked. I could have had what the Pillsbury Dough Boy leaks out in rainbows instead of the baked Play-Doh. Maybe not.
- Don’t use pre-made pizza dough from a bag, get it from a can so it rolls out
- Over kneading my cause compressed air bubbles
- Don’t over flour, even if your dough is extremely sticky
- Make sure you have a evenly floured surface, adding more flour to the dough will just toughen it
- Maybe using all the cinnamon sugar would have been best…
- Contact the author of the recipe for more specific instructions and tips (just sayin’)
Say goodbye to the Great Pumpkin folks and stretch your arms wide for Thanksgiving. I can just taste it. Mashed potatoes, succulent turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, biscuits, pear salads, pumpkin everything. Heavy emphasis on the pumpkin EVERYTHING!
Why did it take me so long to warm up to the idea of the flavor of pumpkin? I’m no stranger to this unusual member of the squash family. I went hunting for it in patches, carving it for Halloween, having it in soups. The idea of a vegetable in a dessert or beverage just freaked me out. I grew to like it. In the past month I’ve tried pumpkin ale, cream pies, and cheesecake.
Bring it on, foodie blogs! I’ll try making muffins, breads, casseroles, pastas, anything, you name it. It’s too good to pass up. This weather if making me eager to hide out in the kitchen.
Ever went to a restaurant and thought to yourself, “I paid $24 for this? I can make this at home” or “There’s only 5 shrimp in here. Ah and look, 8 pieces of asparagus.” ?
It’s the soundtrack that mocks me for wanting to experience the finer dining outside my kitchen. I can’t help it. I like being waited on if I’m going out to eat, the atmosphere of glasses clinking and people laughing makes me feel sociable, and the bonus is that I’m not the one burning over a hot stove and bothering with the dishes afterward. Makes a person cross their arms and smirk with the thought of “Oh, you fancy huh?”
If I could re-create my kitchen to look half as good as Paula Dean’s kitchen I’d do it in a heartbeat. I need to keep on hunting for new recipes and cook at home. I can imitate simple dishes from restaurants in my own kitchen! I just need the motivation. Anyone up for a potluck? Thanksgiving is just around the corner.