Ready or Not #85: Pumpkin Pie

Years ago I bottled dozens of cases of cherry pie filling.  I am not exaggerating, there were about 15 cases of 12 quarts each – it lasted for a very long time (I tend to do things big).  My daughter was two years old and she wanted to help, but I didn’t think that it was a good idea – the whole choking thing kind of made me nervous.  I ended up fencing myself in by the kitchen table with the kitchen chairs turned on their sides and pitting cherries on my own – sort of, my daughter was a really good climber.

I have looked and looked and looked for the recipe to share here, but I couldn’t find it – I’m sorry.  Actually, if I remember correctly, I used basically the same recipe as the apple filling recipe that I recently gave you, but with tart cherries instead of apples.  I think it would work and be quite tasty.  Try it and make your own flavor adjustments.

Actually it is not such a bad idea to buy prepared cherry filling because there wasn’t a single pie that I made with my homemade cherry filling that we didn’t have to worry about having our dentist on speed dial.  My husband and son would usually be the ones to find the stray pits.  As with everything, quality is key and so find the brand that you like and then stock up.  I always add a little more cinnamon and maybe a tad bit of sugar depending on the brand I buy, just add spices to fit your taste buds.  Yes, you can bottle your own filling and it would be delicious, but make sure that you set a little bit of money aside to visit the dentist with a chipped tooth.

The one thing that I insist on is that if you are making the effort to make a cherry pie, please make a lattice top so that it will look pretty.  Lattice is not hard to make and there are two ways to do it: 1) the lazy, easy way or 2) takes a half-minute longer to do and looks really nice.

To make the lattice the first way you must first slice the pie dough in ½” strips and the easiest way to do that is to use a pizza cutter.  Make several of these strips and lay half of them across the pie about a ½” apart from each other.  Then with the other half of the dough strips, lay them the other way so that it looks crisscross.  Seal them, cut the excess off, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake.  It will look very impressive when you are finished.

The second way to make the lattice is to weave the dough.  It takes a little more time, but it is really impressive.  Just think about how you would weave ribbons together and it is that easy.  The one thing that you don’t want to do is to put the dough down and touch the filling unless you want it to stay there.  Just practice a couple of times and you will be an expert.  The upside to this is that you get to eat the practice pies.

My favorite pumpkin pie recipe is one that my mom always made.  It is easy, yummy and quick.  Just put the following ingredients in the blender: 1 ¼ cup pumpkin, ¼ teaspoon salt. 1 ¼ cup canned milk, 2 eggs, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon cloves (or 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice).

Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  Don’t overfill because it will grow just a little bit.   Make sure that you make your pumpkin pies the day before because they taste best when they are cool and have had some time for the flavors to meld together.  Serve with LOTS of whipped cream (the pie tastes good on its own, but I like whipped cream.)

I used to raise my own sugar pumpkins to make my pumpkin pies.  It was a lot of fun and it tastes really good, but so does the canned stuff.  Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene, and as reported on www.realage.com, studies show that a diet high in beta carotene may help reduce the risk of cancers.  Can you think of a better way to fight cancer than by eating pumpkin pie?  I love eating healthy because it tastes so good!

If you want to use the sugar pumpkins that you grew in garden, just cut the pumpkin to look like cantaloupe slices and then turn the slices on their sides and trim the outer layer off.  Cut the pumpkin meat up into medium sized squares and steam them until tender.  If you are not going to use all of it for pie, then sit down with a plate full of hot pumpkin with a little bit of butter and salt and pepper; after all it is just a squash.  When I lived in Europe they thought that Americans were funny because we would eat “squash” as a dessert – they just didn’t get it.

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