Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Pie

Comfort food is always a winner when the weather turns cold and a blanket of snow is covering everything. Last night we had the missionaries over for dinner. I always like to ask if there's anything they can't or won't eat as well as something they would like to have. The request was for meatloaf, shrimp and pumpkin pie. Who would have thought that a missionary from Mexico City would ask for pumpkin pie, but he had tasted some last year and really wanted to try it again. Far be it from me to deny this industrious young man his wish.
I decided to try a "flaky" crust recipe and a twist on the old favorite. For the crust I started with 2 1/2 c. unsifted all purpose flour and whisked  in 2 T. sugar and 3/4 t. salt. With my pastry blender I cut in 10 T. cold butter and 3 T. lard, but you can use shortening if you prefer. I just happened to have the lard around for tortillas and never have shortening, so there you go. No, this isn't your health conscious recipe. What?! Hey, you don't have to eat the whole pie in one sitting just because it's totally delicious and creamy and wonderfully yummy.... ;-)

After the flour and fats were blended to a crumbly mixture I added 1 large egg, and then sprinkled on 1 T. white vinegar, and about 4 T. ice cold water. I took my trusty fork, and gently folded the wet into the dry. Be careful not to work it too much or your crust will be tough. When the dough sticks together nicely create to balls of dough and then flatten them into disks to wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured board and use your pie pan, a 9" one will do for this pie. The other dough disk can be frozen or used for another pie. Invert your pie pan onto the dough and cut about 1 to 1 1/2" away from the edge, all the way around. Gently pick up the dough by one edge and fold it over to the other, lift this into your pie pan and lay open. DO NOT stretch the dough to get it to fit into the pan otherwise it will shrink away from the sides of the pie plate and you will have a much smaller crust than expected. Fold over and crimp the edges. See how pretty?
Next you lightly prick the bottom of the crust but try not to pierce through to the dish. Heat your oven to 425 degrees as you will be partially baking this crust empty. This helps insure that your crust is nicely cooked from top to bottom.  Now you need a square piece of foil, place that onto the crust, then add  some dry rice or beans to fill the foil about 3/4 of an inch. This keeps your crust from puffing up during the baking process. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the foil and rice and bake for 3-5 more minutes until the crust is no longer translucent and is just beginning to look golden. Take out the crust and put a flat baking pan in the center oven rack.
Make a glaze with one egg white (save the yolk to use later)  and 1 T. water whisked together. Brush this over the bottom and sides of the crust to help seal it. Cool on a wire rack.
In a mixer bowl combine 2 cups of pureed pumpkin, with 2 eggs plus the saved yolk. Beat well.

I thought this was a cool shot so I added it for fun...
Add 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup cream or canned milk
Now, the yummy part! Add 1/2 cup real maple syrup, or if you must, maple flavored syrup. I used the real deal. To that add 2 t. pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, as well as 1/2 t. salt. For those of you who like to skip the salt, DON'T!!! Oh sorry, a flash back to my Mommy days.... Now then if you leave out the salt, your pie will not have the fullness of flavor a good pie should have. Just saying...... Okay cooperate blogger! Sheesh, I'm almost done and you have to get fussy! Alrighty then, I guess I will finish up here, above the photo, so into the oven your pie is carefully placed, onto the baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue to bake the pie for another 45 minutes. To keep the edge of the crust from browning you will want to make a foil cover for the edges, or you can buy a nice metal crust protector at any fine cookware store. Take your pie out and let it cool on a rack before covering and chilling for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with your favorite topping. Oh yeah, those cute little leaf cutouts I made and took a picture of that you see at the top of these photos never made it on top of the pie. It would have looked wonderful but, well I reached into the cupboard without looking and managed to dust them with seasoning salt instead of cinnamon sugar. They make great crackers, but somehow I don't think the blend of garlic and onions in the seasoning salt goes with pumpkin pie. Maybe I'm wrong....yeah, you're right, I'm not. :-) I hope you give this recipe a try. In the immortal words of the late and great Miss Julia....Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Catch a Mouse

Last night as I was sitting at my computer I heard a scratching sound. At first I thought it was the wind blowing something outside the apartment, but then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. EEEEkkkk! A little furry nose stuck out from between my canned goods stacked against the wall. So I call my hubby who says there should be traps in the tool box. Nope, they weren't there but I did remember seeing them in the move. So I hunted around but couldn't find them. Rats! no pun intended...;-) 
I went back to my work, thinking I would run up to the store after work today. So then I hear something ripping! "Alright, that's it!" I said to myself as I peeked into the closet where the rest of our food storage is. I saw the new bag of chips we'd just picked up at Costco last weekend, sitting on some jars on the floor of the closet, I picked it up and yes, the little bugger had started to chew a hole at the base of the bag.
Here I'd been thinking how nice it was to be in a clean and easy to keep clean apartment, with no bugs or critters to worry about. No more roly poly bugs racing across my bathroom floor, or Satan spiders running at us while we were sitting there taking care of business. I thought I had done all I could to keep what ever vermin might be lurking, and yes apartment living is a joy? NOT!!!! Well I put in containers and buckets the rest of the food that a critter might be able to get to, and got ready for bed as it was late. I then remembered that the traps were with some of Kent's things up in our closet. So I got one out, set it and put a little cheese on the paddle. I guess you have to mash the cheese onto the paddle as it was gone this morning, but there was no mouse to be seen. So I re-set the trap, with cheese mashed in. We shall see what happened when I get home later. This may be an interesting venture, mouse against woman. Who will be the winner? I will of course as mice carry disease. There are those who believe we should just catch them and set them free in an animal friendly environment, but I don't know the virtue in that. For those who do believe this way, or just want to keep them from invading your space, here's a video link I found that might be what you want. For me, it's going to be traps since we can't have pets here. 
How to Get Rid of Mice???

Monday, November 15, 2010

Families can be forever.....

 As I watched my son and grandson playing on our recent visit to Arizona, I kept thinking about how quickly time goes by and how fast this time was going to pass. My heart ached for the shortness of our visit and the way we were cheated out of half of our time with Emmett, but we did have some time with him and I will always cherish the moments. To be able to watch them running, exploring, reading and laughing together was the best gift I could ever hope for. For me, I've already had my Christmas wish granted in part. This was a birthday present for my son, and I'm so glad for the time we all had together. I love my grandson so much that I was willing to work to help pay for us to go see him. Emmett needs his daddy. He needs to know his daddy loves him and unfortunately they have been kept apart. Not having ever known my real father, I want to make sure Emmett knows his daddy and how much his daddy loves him.
It occurred to me while watching them that we won't have to worry about time the same way in the hereafter. We won't have to hurry to get through a task in order to have the time with those we care about, we won't have to worry about distances separating us, or money to get to where they are. For me, flying won't be an issue anymore. ;-) How nice will that be?! How wonderful to be able to talk to, walk with, play with, work with and be with those whom are near and dear to us when ever we want. What a precious gift!
Do you believe there's life after death? I hope so. I hope you know how much you are loved, and that there is hope in Christ. I hope you know that he has something so wonderful, so precious, so great that he was willing to die for us to have it. Families ARE forever you know......