I'm Sorry Ma'am, But I'm Going To Have To Confiscate That
My mom is a nut.
She called me yesterday from the airport. "I made it!" She proclaimed. "I'm at my gate!" She was getting ready to get on a plane to California, to visit my bro and sis for Thanksgiving. (It's hard for me to believe that a year ago I was frantically sewing this for our trip out there.)
So we had a little chat about her trip to the airport and then she started chuckling. My mom has the best deep laugh that reminds me of my farmer grandpa. "Heh heh giggle...guess what they confiscated from my bag..."
"Your knitting needles!" Was my lightning quick response.
"Nope." More muffled chuckling.
"Your expensive eye cream?" I'm wracking my brain.
"Nope." Giggle. Snort.
"It must have been some kind of cream or lotion?"
I can't stand the suspense. Really. My mom doesn't carry weapons, gadgets, or explosives.
"I have no idea!"
More giggles, I could hardly understand her the first time she said it.
"What do you mean--your pumpkin?"
"My pumpkin! You know! For the PIE!"
O.M.G. Like they don't have pumpkins in California. My mom, in charge of the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, decided that she needed to take a tupperware of home cooked pumpkin puree on her flight from Indiana to California. In her carry-on.
"Mom, I have a feeling those screeners just don't see home-made pumpkin puree everyday. In fact, you may be the only crazy-pumpkin-pie-puree toting lady they see all year!"
"Well, he was really apologetic when he took it. And I told him--he could take it home and cook it up and it would be really good!"
So, I'm sad to miss out on all the California escapades this year. My brother really knows how to throw a great Thanksgiving. It is always entertaining and sometimes an emergency room is even involved.
And, Mom, I hope, in four days, you can find a pumpkin to cook in California.
Back here in Illinois I am going to be the Pie Lady (it's in the genes) for Dave's family gathering. There will be 7 adults and 5 kids, so I'm currently thinking quantity: 4 pies, but that could change, depending on the adrenaline rush on Wednesday. I'm planning on: Pumpkin, Banana Cream, Chocolate Pecan, and Sawdust. The Sawdust is from this cookbook and I've had it at the restaurant (near Paducah) and it is amazing!
The pumpkin pie is my grandma's recipe. I love it because it is really custardy and not spicy. I'm not a big nutmeg-clove-ginger fan. This pie turns out a lovely orange pumpkin color and not all dark brown and scary like the kind you buy. I believe that home cooked pumpkin makes a big difference and it is not hard to do. Just buy a pie pumpkin, cut it into chunks or slices (they don't have to be too small--the size of your hand is ok) and simmer/steam them in a saucepan for 1/2 hour or so, until the pumpkin is soft and you can scrape it from the peel.
You can do it ahead and freeze it. Just please, don't try to take it on the plane with you.
Grandma Parson's Pumpkin Pie.
1 1/2 c. pumpkin
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg (I grate fresh and don't use as much)
1/2 t. ginger (I guess I omit this entirely--your mileage may vary)
1 c. evaporated milk
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 T. soft butter
Beat together all ingredients. Put in unbaked crust. Bake 45 minutes in 9" pan. 350-400 degrees. (Grandma was sometimes kind of vague.)
The Piecrust. I should really devote an entire post just to the piecrust to do it justice. (Last year Carole did an awesome piecrust tutorial--with pictures!-so check that out.) My mom taught me how to make the piecrust and she really rocks in the pie department. Her secret is the lard. I know it looks like a scary four letter word, but Rick uses it and promises it isn't so scary, so if you don't want to take my word for it, there, I just gave you a second opinion.
(This makes one single piecrust but I have found it to be a little skimpy and like to double it--even for a single crust pie, because then the crust is a little thicker and you can also have the leftovers to make the cookies--see below).
1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. lard
3-4 T cold water (ice cubes in it)
Mix flour and salt. Measure lard and put in freezer (I just keep mine frozen anyway, since I rarely use it). So I just measure mine out and it's already really cold. Cube up the lard and cover with flour mixture. Toss so cubes don't stick together. Use pastry cutter to blend it together so the dough comes together with the least amount of handling possible (honestly, I don't have a pastry cutter and I use my hands--but I have practice doing this so I don't blend it too much--that's what makes it flaky). Add the water 1T at a time and stop when all the flour and water is incorporated--you don't have to use the full 4T. Form ball. Place on lightly floured surface and flatten with hands and then roll out, about 1/4" thick.
I fold mine in half to pick it up off the counter and lay it in the pan, then unfold it. Cut the excess off and use to build up a thicker edge if you want (glue it on with a little water) or you can sprinkle the extra pieces with cinnamon and sugar and bake them as cookies (yum!).
Knitting update: 4 more stockings for the advent calendar.
Put them with their siblings and that gives me a total of 10, and I think I've made a few more since I took that photo, so let's say 13 done.
11 to go, 6 days, totally do-able.