Tag Archives: pumpkin

Goodbye, Libby’s (At Least For Now)

This year, I carved my first pumpkin in a long, long time. The last pumpkin I carved was based on advice from Martha Stewart (or the like) when I was working at a credit union in Fairbanks. My office held a carving contest and my pumpkin was truly something to behold – I made a leaf pattern and cut out leaves around the pumpkin, carved veins in them, and then pushed the leaves partially back through the holes in the pumpkin so that when I lit it up, the leaves looked like they were floating around said pumpkin and glowed. But — story of my life — the pumpkin rotted and liquefied the night before judging and I lost.

I can’t say this year’s pumpkin was a triumphant return, but it was nice to feel festive again.

I *also* decided that for the first time ever, I would roast the seeds instead of tossing them out…and, boy, am I glad I did! It was sort of hard to find a recipe I liked…so I ended up just rinsing them, tossing them in olive oil, adding salt and roasting on a sheet pan at about 300 degrees for 45 minutes. They were perfect! My mother said it was really hard to get all the orange pumpkin gunk off of them, but I didn’t think it was actually that bad. And it turned out that T’s favorites were the ones that were a little darker because they were roasted with gunk on.

I also heard that you should consider boiling the seeds first…but I thought the roasted seeds were fine sans boiling.

Now my goal is to make a pie from an actual pumpkin. I’ve never done that before either. And even though my baking enthusiasm has dimmed considerably and may never be what it once was, I’d still like to try out real pie this year. Another friend had a taste test last year in which she made a pie from scratch and a pie from a can and asked guests to guess which was which. It seemed obvious to me — the pie made from real pumpkin was a darker color and sort of less pleasant to look at…although I don’t actually remember how they tasted (…which may actually be because I thought the canned pumpkin pie tasted better, but I am too ashamed to admit it).

But, as a general rule, I’ve been perfectly happy with Libby’s all my life. There – I said it. If that makes me Whiskey Tango, so be it.

So I’m not sure I’ll turn pie-from-an-actual-pumpkin into a holiday tradition for years to come. But, like seeing Mount Rushmore or going waterskiing, it seems like something I should do once in life.

And yet…the Web seems to be barren of useful pie-from-a-pumpkin resources. Could it be that the difference is negligible and so no one bothers?

Granted, my research was not as exhaustive as it perhaps could have been, but every pie recipe I saw on Epicurious.com (my favorite!) called for canned pumpkin. Ditto FoodNetwork.com.

And I’m surprised that given the annual food mag task of making old Thanksgiving news new again that they haven’t jumped all over this. I would think that Alton Brown of all people would have made a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin at least once — after all, I saw him harvest coconut using a power drill — but, alas, I cannot find a recipe from him either.

Thankfully, my go-to cookbook when the Internet fails — The Joy of Cooking — has perfect instructions. I will give it a shot soon (and maybe make a Libby’s pie, too, just for old times’ sake) and report back.

And…just a reminder: There are rumors of another canned pumpkin shortage this year…so if you don’t want to experiment with real pumpkins, make sure to pick up a can of Libby’s before the Thanksgiving rush!

Image via cardamom/Flickr

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Filed under Alaska, books, Food Network, Halloween, holidays, pie, pumpkins

Pie Day plans are in motion…

I will surely be able to come up with something far more eloquent as the pie-making begins next week (I think two pies day for three days…?), but a rough sketch:

On Friday, January 23 at Greenwich Village Bistro (around 7), I will have pies to celebrate National Pie Day: peanut butter, sweet potato, apple, chocolate cream and chocolate chip bourbon pecan.

Peanut butter seems to be a broad favorite. Plus, the Bistro has come up with beer pairings…and the Kelso Nut Brown Ale is supposed to be a good fit for this one. (I understand there is some apprehension about pie and beer…but, to those who are fearful, I implore you to check out Charlie Papazian’s blog.)

Obama’s favorite pie is allegedly sweet potato…but then that story surfaced that he *also* likes a peach cobbler at a Chicago diner and so now I feel like I can’t properly pay homage to the inauguration if I don’t make that as well.

What’s more, I’ve sold my first pies…so I will be making not one but FOUR apple pies next week…so I have to buy something on the order of 12 Granny Smith apples. (That might be skimping it…but I have to use throwaway tins or I’ll never get my Pyrex back…and too many apples means the pies will bleed and the crust already has a tendency to get funny in the tin — just ask an ungrateful Hooman.)

I really like one of the chocolate cream pies from Epicurious.com. You make your own pudding. It’s…wow. (Though I’m not entirely sure about the raspberry lambic they’re pairing with it.)

And…a good friend of mine is helping me out PR-wise and *she* really liked the sound of the American Pie Council’s January pie — the bourbon pecan — and so that partially explains why it is on the menu as well.

Just about a week to go!

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Filed under chocolate, holidays, peanut butter, pie

Juneau Beer, Mexican Thingamajigs, Spice Advice, Unspeakable Cookies, Christmas Eve Empanadas & Potatoes From the Lonestar State

Well…now that the Huffington Post action may have cooled off for a while, I suppose I should return to the blog that bears *my* name.

I just got back from Arizona…where there were plenty of blog-worthy topics.

For one, I was thrilled to find Alaskan Amber at a saloon outside of the Grand Canyon. I admit my love for this beer stems partially from nostalgia…but I haven’t really seen it outside of Alaska (natch) or Seattle, so I was super-excited to find it elsewhere. (Although I was hoping maybe there’d be a place in NY that serves it, too…and found that some guy tried it at the New York, New York Hotel & Casino in Vegas. But, sadly, it appears the stuff isn’t in the actual New York, New York…at least not on tap.)

We also went to a Mexican restaurant in Tucson that served carne seca (“dry meat”)…which tasted a lot like beef jerky (although a quick Google search reveals that a lot of people feel this way and I was in no way insightful). The restaurant was *also* home of the USA Today Chimichanga…which I thought was kind of an amusing name even though it was only because USA Today said it was a really good chimichanga. (And this place in Tucson is also allegedly the home of the chimichanga itself? )

And…this year was exciting because my mother actually asked my advice about pumpkin pie spice! She needed ginger and wanted to know if I thought she could fake it with pumpkin pie spice. (My answer, not surprisingly, was no.) She ended up buying a little baggie of ginger at the grocery store that has good produce…and where a woman offered me a sample of vegan ice cream and I obviously got a little thrill.

We also made the Sweet Potato Queens‘ cat shit cookies. This is one of my mother’s favorite recipes…possibly because it requires no baking. It also yields a hearty cookie that’ll give you a good chocolate fix. Which is probably why the Queens like it, too.

And…instead of more traditional Christmas Eve tamales, I made Christmas Eve empanadas. I couldn’t tell whether my dad actually liked them, but that recipe is still one of my favorites. We used puff pastry instead of empanada dough…so they looked kind of turnover-ish. But my dad’s a big guy (over the 200 pound weight limit and so we couldn’t ride mules into the Grand Canyon!)…so it’s okay that they blew up into these big, huge things in the oven.

We *also* made Texas Potatoes for Christmas…which is one of the dishes in the family recipe book my aunt pulled together a number of Christmases ago…but I’ve never tried. It has always *sounded* really good…so I’m glad I finally got to try them. But…don’t know if it was because my mom used real potatoes instead of frozen hash browns or because she used healthy cream of chicken/mushroom (I think it was chicken) soup…but it wasn’t *quite* as spectaculuar as I had hoped it would be. I mean, it was pretty good…but I didn’t see God.

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Filed under Alaska, blogs, cookies, entrees, holidays

The Year of Sweet Potato? And What’s Ground Mace?

I’ve been really into Twitter lately and I’m afraid my blog is suffering — whatever baking news I spy more often than not gets slapped up on Twitter before I have time to flesh it out here.

But! I suppose real-life baking episodes will always have a home here. So…this is the perfect venue to say that I’m still planning to make sweet potato pie this week (even though I am also freelancing for FundFire and Ignites Europe and I am supposed to write some real estate press releases on top of my Martha gig…oy) in honor of both Obama and my friend Matt’s birthday. (He had *said* he wanted pumpkin…but I asked how he felt about sweet potato as I feel like I have to make one now that Obama is President-Elect and he said that would be fine. [By the by, I also still have a lot of damn apples.])

But…sweet potato pie is not something I grew up with…so I went to Epicurious and found this: Sweet Potato Pie. 4 forks! And 98% would make it again. So…sounds good. But…ground mace? I had never heard of that. Thankfully, McCormick has an encyclopedia on its Web site: Mace, Ground.

They’ve opened a lot of grocery stores in my neighborhood lately…so I hope I won’t have any trouble finding it. (But you know what I did have trouble finding in my neighborhood today? Carpeted cat toys. My poor cat is not dealing well with being by himself all day…so I figured it would be good to get him something he can climb on. But they’re so expensive! So…I may have to endure the humiliation of hauling one of those things home on the Subway from a big box store…)

So…I think Thursday will be a sweet potato kind of night as my work for Ignites Europe will be done by then. I will also be able to use those crust leaf cut-outs my mom bought me last year. I haven’t used those since *last* Thanksgiving…and seem to recall there was some sort of trick you had to do to make them look particularly leafy. Hmm…

Coincidentally…I am still not sure what’s on tap for *this* Thanksgiving…or what kind of pie I will make. Maybe this will be the year of sweet potato?

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Filed under birthdays, Brooklyn, pie, pumpkins