Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In Praise of Pumpkin Pie

When I was a kid, I could not imagine eating a pumpkin pie. For me, pumpkins were something you made Jack O' Lanterns out of. Every October my brother and sister and I would get a pumpkin and cut off the top. Then the grossness began. Somebody--and in my memories it was always me--would have to stick their hands down into the poor pumpkin and pull out his insides. Yeech!

We would plop the gooey mess down on old newspaper, and then use a serving spoon to get all the stuff off the sides. Then one of us--and in my memories it was never me--would have the honor of drawing the Jack O' Lantern's face with a marker. Then somebody--in my memories, it was usually Dad--would carve the pumpkin--while I took the gunk that had been inside the pumpkin and threw it in the garbage.

This was my primary experience with pumpkins. So when Thanksgiving rolled around and people talked about eating a pie made out of the internal organs of a Jack O' Lantern, I thought, What is wrong with you people? You don't eat that stuff! You throw it out with the garbage!

Thus it was that for years, I  missed out on one of the true joys of the holiday season.

And then one Thanksgiving when I was in college, I decided to give the unappealing confection a try. I can't remember why. It may have been because I had recently tried carrot cake. Carrot cake is another dessert that makes no sense. Who'd have thought you could make a dessert out of a tasteless vegetable that my mom used to force me to eat? And who'd have thought that a dessert with such strange origins would be so incredibly good?

I must have reasoned that if they could make an absolutely scrumptious cake out of rabbit food, then maybe a pie made out of pumpkin wasn't such a stretch.

So I cut myself a small slice of pumpkin pie and added a generous dollop of Cool Whip (I figured it would hide the flavor of the pie.)  I took a small bite onto my fork...I brought it to my mouth...and...Wow! This stuff is good! 

I've been a pumpkin pie fanatic ever since.

Today I've been baking pumpkin pies for the Thanksgiving meals that Covenant is going to deliver tomorrow to DSS Kinship families. We've been working with the Bair Foundation to come alongside these folks throughout the year. I figured since this is one of my favorite parts of the meal, I'd volunteer to make some. A dozen, to be exact.

Early attempts were crude.
Only problem is, I've never done this before.

The first two were a disaster. I read the ingredient list, but not the directions. So I just dumped everything in a bowl, then realized I was supposed to beat the eggs first. So I did my best to push the eggs over to one side of the bowl and give them a decent beating before mixing everything together.

Then I filled the pie shells way too full. I spilled filling all over the floor on my way from the counter to the oven. I splashed filling all over the oven. I completely forgot about putting the unbaked pies on a baking sheet!

After the pies had been in the oven for five minutes, I looked at the recipe again and realized I had left out the sugar! So I took them out -- spilling them again -- and did my best to mix the sugar into the filling after the fact.

What came out an hour later looked...OK. But they smelled pretty good.

Now that I knew what I was doing, I went on to attempt four pies at once. This time I remembered to beat the eggs, mix the sugar and spices, put the milk in slowly... and use a baking sheet to protect the bottom of the oven. And it worked! Don't they look awesome?

OK. Six down, six more to go. Boy, I love the way my house smells right now!

1 comment:

  1. Quite an undertaking for your first pie experience. Hate to say but you are fitting right into the "boys don't read the instructions" cliche. The cook can always eat the mistakes. If you have a stomach ache tomorrow we will know you ate the first two pies. Thanks for the laugh