It’s a Dog Eat Pie World
Several people have asked for my pumpkin pie recipe, and I have to tell you everyone here laughed. Recipe? Since I am admitting I am not a perfect gardener, I am not a perfect cook either. No gourmet dishes, fancy names that you can’t pronounce, or things no one wants to eat. I can’t decide if the dog eats the pie – is that good thing or a reflection on my cooking? Tracy D. assures me I am a wonderful cook, but he looks at me with rapt attention so I don’t believe a doggy word of it. He’s a dog, and dogs are known to eat disgusting things… .
Bad dog or bad pie?
All joking aside I’m just a farm cook. It’s pretty easy when you have good ingredients at hand. And I make sure I do.
Despite all the pumpkin posts of late, I grow winter squash, not pumpkins for pies and eating. And since I have went on ad nauseam about the Sweet Meat squash I grow, I will just leave it at that. If you want to know more, type Sweet Meat in the search box. Beware though, one of those posts is about real mince meat… .
To be a good blogger and share my recipe that meant I had to make a pie and write down what I did. As I was doing that this past weekend and thinking of what to say in this post, it struck me that while I talk a lot about becoming native to my place, I am native to my kitchen and pantry too. Ever since I read that phrase long ago in one of Wes Jackson’s books it was an eye opener. I am native to my place, and to transfer that thought to the kitchen cupboard, it explains why I don’t need an exact recipe. Recipes are a start, but never the end with good cooking. I learned to cook from scratch cooks that had recipes in their heads and stuffed larders, they used all their senses to make meals. As a child I learned the art of good farm cooking, and in high school home economics I learned the science.
Some cooking chores become rote over time. Because I have used the same bowl to mix my pie filling in for years, and watched my mother do the same, I know how full to fill it for the pie dish. So that imaginary line is what I am thinking about when I look through my goods to make pie. In a farm kitchen you may be short of eggs or milk or have an abundance of those things. Or you may be short on squash, a pie like this is pretty forgiving with a waxing and waning pantry. You can pretty much fudge on the amounts of pumpkin, eggs and milk as long as you keep that level in the bowl in mind. Or get out those ramekins and bake an extra custard if you make a little too much for the pie dish. It’s not a screw up, it’s an extra snack
Pies are a pretty forgiving dessert for me, since I can usually put them in the oven and walk away for about an hour. I rarely burn a pie, but don’t ask about my cookie baking prowess, eight minutes in traffic seems like an hour, and eight minutes when cookies are in the oven goes by in a flash. I bake almost all my pies in an 11 inch glass pie dish, 9 inch is too small for us, and two 9 inch pies is too much.
This time of year for convenience sake, I usually have steamed squash on hand for meals or pie. I like to bake smaller squash like acorn or delicata types. But I like the texture and taste of the Sweet Meat steamed. It’s important to steam these with the skin on, cut side down, resist the urge to peel and cube, that will render your squash tasteless and watery. And leave the skin on until you use it. The cooked skin is relished by my dogs.
We like the pie to actually taste like pumpkin and not liked cooked milk and eggs with a hint of pumpkin, so be forewarned, this recipe contains much more pumpkin than the standard label recipe on the canned pumpkin in the stores.
My pie method is broken up and goes like this:
♥ Cook squash and let cool, in most cases this is at least overnight in my kitchen.
♥ Make pie crust.
♥ Make pie filling.
♥ Bake and let cool completely (overnight is best) before eating.
And here is a semblance of the recipe:
Don’t fear the pie crust, practice makes perfect, and this one is pretty easy.
PIE CRUST for one 11 inch single crust pie
1 c. flour
8 T. cold butter (one stick or cube, or 1/2 cup)
½ t. salt
¼ c. cold water (give or take depending on how the dough looks to you)
Combine flour and salt, mix. Cut in butter with hands, pastry cutter, knives, whatever you prefer. When flour and butter is blended with some little fingernail size chunks of butter visible, add most of the cold water, mix. This is the hard part for some, you need to resist over mixing and making the dough tough, but you still need to incorporate the water. The best way I have found is to pour the water around the edge of the bowl, instead of in the middle of the flour mixture, and then stirring and if I have to, I add more water. Chill to let the dough rest, roll out just before making the pie filling.
PUMPKIN PIE makes one 11 inch pie
4 c. cooked squash or pumpkin (if you use less add more milk)
1 – 2 c. sugar (this is adjustable depending on the sweetness of your squash)
5 large eggs (if you have pullet eggs, use more)
1 cup milk, cream or buttermilk. (depends on what needs using up)
1 t. vanilla
½ t. salt
1½ t. cinnamon (not set in stone, some people like more ginger, we’re more the cinnamon.nut
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. cloves
¼ t. ginger
I add all ingredients together except the milk and mix with my electric mixer. Sweet Meat squash is not stringy, but a few fibers may remain depending on how well you scraped the seed cavity before cooking. I have found that fibers just wrap around the beaters, so that takes care of that problem. Mix thoroughly, add milk. Beat until you see a little froth, you want the eggs thoroughly beaten. Pour into prepared pie shell and bake 15 minutes at 400°F, turn oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Because of the large amount of eggs this pie will puff up during the baking, don’t worry it will relax as it cools. This baking time is for my oven, so baking time may vary a bit, just use the knife test. You may also have to protect the fluted edge with foil too, just watch and see, sometimes just rotating the pie will suffice.
The results – a hearty pie, and a nice little custard from the overflow. Pretty good stuff!