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November 15, 2007

Non-Canonical Pumpkin Pie
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:44 PM *

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Remember Elizabeth Moon’s Holiday Feasts for Beginners? Do you remember her very first piece of advice?

1) Avoid all expert shows. Ignore Martha Stewart (she has staff) and all the chefs on TV who want you to do something new! creative! different! fantastico! for your turkey dinner. Just turn them off, tune them out, and pretend they don’t exist. You aren’t cooking for a TV audience: you’re cooking for friends and family (if you’re cooking for enemies and strangers…well…I can’t help you).

If you want to ignore Ms. Moon’s totally sensible advice that Thanksgiving Dinner is not the time to try something new, different, and fancy that you’ve only seen described…. Well.

Should madness seize you and make you want to try something ditzy:

1 envelope plain gelatin
¼ cup cold water
1 and ¼ cups mashed cooked pumpkin (canned pie-pumpkin — the kind where the can says, “Ingredients: pumpkin” — is okay, but emphatically *not* “pumpkin pie filling”)
¾ cup evaporated milk
½ cup water
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
¾ cup brown sugar (scant), firmly packed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 egg whites
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1 baked 9” pie shell
½ cup whipped cream

Soften gelatin in the ¼ cup cold water.
Combine pumpkin, milk, ½ cup water, egg yolks, ½ cup of the sugar, the salt, and the spices in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.
Remove from boiling water. Chill until slightly thickened. Beat egg whites until slightly foamy.
Add remaining sugar gradually to egg whites and continue until stiff.
Fold stiffly beaten egg whites, vanilla, and ¾ cup of the toasted coconut into pumpkin mixture.
Turn into cold pie shell.
Chill until firm. Top with whipped cream and reserved coconut.

This pie does not travel well.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Non-Canonical Pumpkin Pie:
#1 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:10 PM:

This is the only kind of pumpkin pie my family ate when I was young. My late grandmother used to make it.

The coconut is new to me, though.

Thanks for the recipe!

#2 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Coconut? Interesting. Even so, I wish I understood the appeal of pumpkin and pumpkin pie.

I might have to try it out on the spouse when returns next week.

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:19 PM:

Tania @ 2... I might have to try it out on the spouse

Your approach to cuisine sounds rather disquieting, Tania.

#4 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:24 PM:

I begin to be alarmed to see a third McDonald food item in just a few days. Don't give up your day job; very nice, thank you; can you say something about opening jars? Or how to be safe doing something or other - but thanks for the recipe

#5 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:44 PM:

make that Macdonald food item

#6 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:44 PM:

I tend to regard pumpkin pie as a delivery vehicle for Vitamin A, brown sugar, and Too Much Spice (tm). I routinely double to ginger and cinnamon in most recipes. And often to add ground cloves. But pumpkin pie has Vitamin A and is therefore a health food. Right?

#7 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:50 PM:

This pie does not travel well.

Because it's eaten between the fridge and the car?

Absent the coconut, this sounds wonderful. When my lovely wife reads this, I'm sure she'll take note.

#8 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Hint taken, maybe have to make two, one with and one without coconut.

canned pumpkin is a good, easy fiber source too. (5 grams per 1/2 cup, according to the Libby can nutrition chart). I've heard of vets prescribing a tablespoon or so a day for cats with indelicate tummy troubles. They find it palatable (hell I find it palatable) and it helpe straighten things out.

#9 ::: cap ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:01 PM:

No cloves! I approve.

My grandmother made the best pumpkin pie in the world. When I told her as much, she sort of snorted/shruged and said she follows the recipe on the can of "punkin", except she "don't put no cloves in". I love my grandmother. (I suspect the fact that she also makes her own pie crust probably helps a great deal.)

#10 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Madeleine Robins @ 6 But pumpkin pie has Vitamin A and is therefore a health food. Right?

Of course – it’s orange(ish)!

The chromodietic principles of pumpkin products, like other orange foods such as Orange Jell-O, Butterfingers, and those scary Halloween Snoballs, are all the same as their ur-food: a carrot.

The logical extreme of this is white, which of course represents snow. All white foods can do is hydrate you.

#11 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:04 PM:

Eh, it's a pie and it contains pumpkin*. So it's at worst deuterocanonical, not non-canonical.

*I don't much like pumpkin pie.

#12 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:25 PM:

I usually just opt for the Libby's pie recipe. Any pumpkin pie with corn syrup is off my list, though.

#13 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Madeleine Robins@6-of course it is. I recently found a recipe that involved using ginger juice as the main seasoning-that makes it even healthier in my opinion.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Don't give up your day job; very nice, thank you; can you say something about opening jars?

Okay, next installment of Trauma and You very soon now. With notes on jars and cans and how they relate to incisions (with some discussion on the difference between incisions and lacerations).

Jars can often be opened, if they prove recalcitrant, by smacking them sharply (lid down) on a hard surface. This may disrupt the bond formed by dried substances on the threads. NOTE: Be certain to smack it squarely down. Otherwise you run the risk of crimping the lid so it will never come off, or breaking the jar. Wear heavy leather gloves and safety glasses while performing this maneuver.

Alternatively, run the metal lid under very hot water until the metal expands, then twist the lid open using a rubber jar opener.

An ideal home jar-and-bottle-opening kit contains:

#15 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:47 PM:

I may have to try this, using kanten (agar-agar) instead of gelatin. I'm an omnivore, but gelatin creeps me out.

To avoid the possibility that I will offend the resident pumpkin pie afincionado, I'll make this recipe and buy a pie at the Korean bakery down the street. They use kabocha squash and do a top crust; it's pricey but delicious.

#16 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:52 PM:

I use the trusty-if-hazardous method of knocking against the edge of the lid with the back of a knife.

#17 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 10:55 PM:

Jars can often be opened, if they prove recalcitrant, by smacking them sharply (lid down) on a hard surface. Hmm. I wonder about the possible effectiveness of placing the jar upside-down on a hard surface and whacking the jar bottom. One wouldn't get the momentum but it would ensure a normal force on the lid.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 11:36 PM:

I've been known to smack the jar-lid rim with the handle on a pair of kitchen scissors. Or pry under the edge with a (not-pointy) knife or a spoon-handle end, to break the vacuum seal.

[Two manual can openers, and there's at least one church key somewhere, not counting the one in the car from back when oil actually came in cans.]

#19 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Serge, my husband is a willing victim of my experimental cooking adventures.

Which some evening leads to egg sandwiches and a discussion of "Did I cook it wrong, or do we just not like what I cooked?"

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2007, 11:48 PM:

Inappropriate joke:

Guvf yhzorewnpx pbzrf vagb gbja nsgre fvk zbaguf va gur jbbqf, naq gur svefg guvat ur qbrf vf urnq sbe n ubhfr bs vyy erchgr. Ur jnyxf va naq fnlf gb gur znqnzr, "V jnag lbhe gbhturfg tvey naq gjb obggyrf bs orre."

"Fher guvat," fnlf gur znqnzr. "Gung'yy or Ebfvr. Gbc bs gur fgnvef, svefg qbbe ba lbhe evtug."

Fb gur yhzorewnpx tbrf hc gurer, naq cerggl fbba gur qbbe bcraf naq va pbzrf guvf lbhat ynql pneelvat gjb frnyrq obggyrf. Fur chgf gurz ba gur avtugfgnaq, juvcf bss ure xvzbab, naq trgf ba gur sybbe ba ure unaqf naq xarrf.

"Bu ab," fnlf gur yhzorewnpx. "V jnag lbh ba lbhe onpx, va gur orq, gur byq-snfuvbarq jnl."

"Nalguvat lbh fnl, fcbeg," fnlf gur lbhat ynql, "ohg V gubhtug lbh zvtug yvxr gb bcra gurz orref svefg."

#21 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Pumpkin chiffon pie (without the coconut) from the red & white checked Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook is the Ancient and Venerable Pie in my family, though I've gradually introduced My Pie, which is the recipe on the canned pumpkin label with the eggs and spices doubled. I made the Ancient and Venerable last Thanksgiving and My Pie for Christmas. Both well received.

Among my people (Lutherans), it isn't a holiday dinner without green JELL-O with cottage cheese and pineapple, and it isn't Christmas dinner without the aforesaid green jello and red jello with fruit cocktail. (I believe that technically, if it's JELL-O, it really is lime flavored, but jello is green.)

In my family (others, too, I'm sure), the circular sheet of rubber for opening jars is known as a rubber husband. Apparently there are other options. (Possibly NSFW) My cousin had a funeral home, so they were imprinted with the funeral home information instead of poison control info.

I cannot prepare Thanksgiving dinner for fewer than 12.

#22 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:09 AM:

...so they were imprinted with the funeral home information instead of poison control info

The circular rubber jar openers, than is. (Dang! I thought I'd edited that paragraph!!)

#23 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:20 AM:

We have this 'dude' kichen gadget (you use it once and go, 'dude, that's such a simple/effectiveidea) that we call the 'cap snaffer', it's a nice handle that has a gear-head device that clamps on too and adjusts to the size of container/lid you are trying to open, within reason. dr. P used it tonight to get the lid off my jar of sorghum.

#24 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:26 AM:

James, why the whistle?

#25 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Non-canonical can opener: 00 buck. Great on cans*; not so good on lug nuts.

* assuming that the only goal is opening said can, and not retaining contents of can for later use.

#26 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:14 AM:

Tracie @ 21: Green jello with pineapple and cottage cheese? Really? Not sour cream? We call this one (with sour cream) the "easy jello," because the two most time-consuming parts of assembling it are draining the pineapple and chopping the pecans (if you add pecans).

#27 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:31 AM:

Why the whistle? There's no better way to summon aid.


A better question would be, "Why no flashlight?"

#28 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:38 AM:

Dawno #24: the whistle is to call for help when you cut your hand. Of course.

#29 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:48 AM:

To the unhappy few of us here who can't read ROT13 by sight, may I commend rot13.com in regards to #20?

#30 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:59 AM:

True story of youthful ignorance and, subsequent, stupidities.

I was about 13, cooking dinner. I needed to open a can of sauerkraut. The roatary opener was missing, so I used a church key. I punched around the edge, but; as might be expected, there were bit if metal holding the lid to the edge.

In the course of trying to pry this up, I lacerated (I know the difference) the ball of my right pinky.

Much blood ensued. I went and put a band-aid on it. This wasn't really enough.

So I replaced it, with more pressure (because the first one had soaked itself, and fallen off). I went and lay down, because I was (though I didn't know it; hence the description of ignorant stupidity) getting shocky (more, I think from pain and gore, than actual volume loss).

When I felt better, I got up, and worked on the can some more. Felt like crap, lay down. Worked my way through the entire fixing of dinner.

I still have the scar (now somewhat "T" shaped from a later injury, ivolving a falling knife).

As to the idea of hitting the bottom of a resting jar, don't. The bottom is more likely to break than the seal to release.

#31 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:01 AM:

So, well, I recently got a diagnosis of type II diabetes. Only the diabetes is so mild that drugs are out of the question and I have to eat in a particular way instead. So I've been figuring out what I really miss and replacing those things with things that do whatever esthetic, emotional, or nutritional thing it is that the really-missed things do. Kind of.

I made a pumpkin custard with sucralose, but I didn't really like it. I made an apple crisp thing (nearly unsweetened) with almond meal streusel. It was pretty close.

Desserts in general aren't working so great for me. But today I figured out the low-glycemic thing to do instead of mashed potatoes, and I'm pleased with it. You boil some cauliflower, and braise some turnip with butter, bay leaf, and lemon, and mash them together with some cream (taking out the lemon and bay leaf, of course). It's actually very, very good.

So I have one thing for the Thanksgiving tables worked out. We have to go to three of them (2 Thursday and 1 Friday), and then the nice fellow will want to throw one of his own on the weekend so we'll have lots of leftover turkey. So at the farmers' market I'll be the one buying up a case of cauliflower and growling because local farmers only do turnips in the spring and why the hell is that? They do cauliflower and broccoli twelve months a year. Will turnips only grow in late winter in the Mediterranean climate? (no, I don't know. I've got some sort of wormy thing in the backyard that eats root vegetables)

Sorry, that was long. I have some other low-glycemic things that have worked for me, and I will share if anybiody wants me to. (the obvious one: replace all sweet potatoes with squash or pumpkin, of course)

#32 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:10 AM:

So, Jim, is this how you hurt your right hand (mentioned by Teresa in tht thrd)?

#33 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:16 AM:

I also didn't get pumpkin pie for a long time. But then I realized: it's pie you can cut a slice of and carry the slice in your hand nibbling as you perambulate. No other pie has the right combination of density/moisture/crust to manage this. Portable pie!

#34 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Jim, I can't believe you don't have a corkscrew for whine bottles.* I have the folding penknife style: a blade to cut the foil, and a bottle opener that doubles as the lever against the mouth of the bottle.

The tool I like to use for really stubborn jars is a Vise-Grip™ with a bicycle chain attached to one side of the jaw, and a slot for a link of the chain on the other. This allows you to adjust the circumference of the loop of chain in the jaws to the size of the lid when the grip is open, then close it to tighten the chain around the lid. Then just twist; carefully, though, you don't want to twist the glass neck of the jar off; this baby has a lot of mechanical advantage.

* You need to do something to them to make them stop whining.

#35 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:58 AM:

Mary Frances #26: with sour cream it's a different salad. Yes, Lutherans are one of those cultures where jello can be a salad or a dessert, depending on what you put in it. Cottage cheese, mayonaise or sour cream makes it a salad, Cool-whip or whipped cream makes it a dessert. I think there may be some exotic jello desserts with sour cream, but we don't eat them at home in my family. Apparently cream cheese can swing both ways. Marshmallows are fruit.

There was some discussion here a while back about jello salads and other delicacies in which I detected similarities between Mormon and Lutheran foodways. I never made a candle salad, but there are instructions in my old (mid-50s) copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls.

My high school cafeteria served Under the Sea Salad, which did not involve seafood. It was this murky green mixed vegetable JELL-O, (anyone remember that?), savory, not sweet, with shredded vegetables suspended therein, looking very much like seaweed. I don't know what vegetables they were -- cabbage and carrots, probably -- because no one, not even adventurous eaters* like me, ever ate it. I think it was the bizarro version of Perfection Salad. It was in no way related to the modern Under the Sea Salad, which looks to be a tasty (if boring looking) concoction of green jello, cream cheese and canned pear.

*Steak tartare was a common Sunday dinner in my house in the 60s and 70s. Snails, too. And curry. My mother made the best curry, with all the fixins. Mom is still with us, and she still cooks, but at 92 she doesn't make any of the exotic stuff any more, though she will nuke exotic stuff from Trader Joe's.

#36 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:21 AM:

May I call on the ML collective wisdom?

Last night I roasted a pumpkin, which will get whizzed up tonight for soup. No problem. But then there are the seeds, which I don't normally do anything with (being both British and clueless), but would like to try. I've cleaned them and let them dry. I know that Americans are the experts with these things, so do people here have some favourite recipe suggestions? I'd quite like recipes that *don't* involve using the oven (because I don't like turning the oven on to do just one thing and don't have any other oven plans for the next couple of days). And having cooked them, do people do anything with them apart from just eating them on their own as snacks? Any advice will be gratefully received!

#37 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:22 AM:

Lucy @31,

Do you know about or have you tried erythritol? It's a sugar-alcohol that

1. acts like sugar in cooking- can be caramelized, stops crystals in ice-cream, etc.
2. barely changes blood sugar levels (fairly close to no calories)
3. doesn't have those side effects like most sugar alcohols, because it doesn't go into the large intestine and doesn't feed gut (or tooth) bacteria
4. is found in fruits, including pears

If you have recipes where you need sugar's chemical properties, and not just sugar's sweetness, I highly recommend erythritol. The only downside I've found is the price. I hadn't seen it cheaper than $5/lb online, although I haven't looked recently.

#38 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Sharon @36

Pumpkin seeds are called pepitas* in Mexican cooking, and they're tasty. If you look up pepita recipes you'll find a bunch, although usually those will be for shelled pepitas.

You can toast them in a hot pan with oil- I find about 10 minutes is enough- adding spices towards the end.

One flavor combination I like is chili-lime: mix chili powder** (to taste) into the juice of one lime, and then add this to the toasted unshelled pepitas. Stir until the liquid is gone and the spices coat the pepitas. Cool and enjoy.

-----------
* usually shelled / hulled, but pepita refers to unshelled ones as well.

** a spice mix of chili peppers (capiscum) plus other spices such as cumin.

#39 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:46 AM:

1 envelope plain gelatin

What would be the mass or the volume of gelatin involved? I don't think I have ever seen gelatin in envelopes before.

#40 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 04:57 AM:

Paul #39: For home use, unflavored gelatin can be purchased in boxes containing several little envelopes of gelatin like these from Knox. The size of the envelopes is standardized, so the brand doesn't matter. (This applies to the stuff you can buy at the supermarket, but may not apply for unflavored gelatin packaged for commercial food service.)

One envelope = 1/4 ounce = 1 tablespoon

#41 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 05:35 AM:

I'd try a strap wrench before water pump pliers.
(For jar opening - I have water pump pliers for the water pump, obviously.)

#42 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 05:39 AM:

What does the Knox box say about the volume of liquid one envelope would be able to stiffen? I ask because in some places gelatine is sold in sheets, with 6 sheets being enough to stiffen 500ml (2 cups) of liquid. At least that's the case with Dr. Oetker products, which are sold in many European countries. I suspect that's what one envelope of US gelatine would do, too.

Looking at it this way is also good when you're trying to substitute for gelatine.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:14 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @ 38... Pumpkin seeds are called pepitas

That makes sense, if that word means the same thing in French, with a pépite being a nugget.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 06:17 AM:

Tania @ 19... my husband is a willing victim of my experimental cooking adventures.

"Alive! It's alive! Bwahahahah!"

"Yes, darling, it's very yummy, but did you have to strap me down on an operating table to find that out? And what's with the electrodes?"

#45 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Paul #39: For home use, unflavored gelatin can be purchased in boxes containing several little envelopes of gelatin like these from Knox. The size of the envelopes is standardized, so the brand doesn't matter. (This applies to the stuff you can buy at the supermarket, but may not apply for unflavored gelatin packaged for commercial food service.)

One envelope = 1/4 ounce = 1 tablespoon

Warning: do *not* trust this conversion without weighing the gelatin. There can be fairly substantial differences in the mass of gelatin between one envelope and the next. So for anything where the degree of gelling needed is precise, you can have... issues.

#46 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:32 AM:

My family uses the can-on-ical recipe from the One-Pie pumpkin can, except that we cut out about 1/2 of the sugar, and I put some cardamom in. It is even (at least theoretically) local produce, One-Pie is based in West Paris, Maine — right next to Bryant Pond where I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving.

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 08:33 AM:

Emily @ 45

The recommendation I saw was to dump one or two packets into a bowl and actually measure the gelatin. (They'd found the packets varying in weight by as much as 20 percent.)
It made me wonder if it would be better to get bulk-packed gelatin (assuming it exists).

#48 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:01 AM:

#23, Paula Helm Murray

My grandmother has one of those. She gave me her spare, but it turned out to be stripped and non-functional.

Swing Away makes something sort of similar, but the parts that grip the lid aren't as well designed as the one my grandmother had, and tend to dent lids, and it doesn't have the effort-enhancing gears. (Hm, I never turned to the internet to look for one like Grandmama's. I oughta do that.)

#41, Alan Braggins
My jar opener currently is a strap wrench. Works quite well, though it is occasionally awkward to get settled into operating position.

#49 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:20 AM:

My wife and one of my girls are vegetarians so about 10 years ago I set out to come up with a signature vegetarian thanksgiving dish that could hold up as a centerpiece next to turkey and the trimmings.

After some experimentation, I finally hit on making stuffed pumpkins. I buy a half-dozen* small (cantaloupe sized) pie pumpkins, clean them out, rub the insides with some olive oil or butter and then fill them with stuffing**. Bake in a 350 degree oven for appx 1 hour or until the pumpkins begin to soften slightly to the touch.

They look fabulous on the table, and the pumpkin will infuse the stuffing with a subtle roasted flavor that's really delicious.

*Actually, for the last three years or so I've had to do almost a dozen due to their overall popularity with the omnivores too, but you should probably start out small

** I've honed a killer vegetarian stuffing recipe too. The key is to make your own veggie-stock especially for the stuffing.

#50 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:26 AM:

Another trick one can do is to use something like the can-onical recipe except you disassemble the eggs, beat the egg whites to soft peaks separately, and then fold them into the rest of the mixture before putting it in the crust. It'll give you a lighter texture.

#51 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Even as I write this, I can still hear young master Stewart's agonized moans from the kitchen. While I could certainly subscribe to his theory that the best mechanism for opening jars was a tentacle, he would not heed my advice that some experiments are best left undone...

#52 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 09:58 AM:

Eh, has anyone here ever been to the Martha Steward website?

She doesn't exhort anyone to make weird or strange things for Thanskgiving -- unless you're sick and tired of the green beans and fried onions casserole. Her advice is practical and helpful, in fact.

She has menus for experts and menus for beginners.

And her cute little turkey place cards with Thanksgiving trivia questions (on the turkey's tail feathers) are very easy to make and kind of clever -- give the guests something to do as they gather round the table.


#36 -- go to www.marthastewart.com and search "pumpkin seeds." She'll show you how to roast the seeds and how to season them. Her recipes are usually very practical, without a long ingredients list.

#53 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:32 AM:

My Mom hates pumpkin pie, but I've found that I like it as long as it's *not* heavily spiced and has a good texture (impossible-to-describe combination of quite solid yet creamy). Luckily, the local grocery store makes it just to my taste!

As for twist-top openers, I never had a truly useful flexible circular rubber one until we stopped renting our condo unit and the real estate company that sold it to us presented one that looks kind of like a slice of bologna but works perfectly, even with my undersize hands and lack of arm strength. Mom's version is nearly useless, so she has done a whole lot of tapping to get tops off. Wish I could find her one like mine, for when she gets back from the rest home.

#54 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Lance @49: We kept trying stuffed pumpkins, and hated it. Finally I made a mushroom pie with a sour cream crust and had the carnivores fighting over the last slice, too. Let me know if anyone wants the recipe.

Mr. Chryss is absolutely against experimentation when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert. His family always did chocolate silk pie with graham cracker crust, and lo, we shall have chocolate silk pie with graham cracker crust. However, unlike HIS MOTHER, I make mine from scratch and without Cool-Whip.

I never really liked Cool-Whip, and after Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee landed on TV, I can never have it darken my door again. That, and seasoning packets, angel food cake, and canned frosting...scary.

#55 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Hm. My fiance is vegetarian and I hate coconut. Can I still make this pie? What do I replace the gelatin with, or am I screwed? If I just leave out the coconut, will it be terrible?

#56 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Note that the recipe calls for toasted coconut -- quite another beast entirely, tastewise! Be careful toasting, though -- it can burn fast.

Also, there are gelatine substitutes (agar comes to mind), but I'll leave it to those with personal experience to talk about them.

#57 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Chryss@54: I think what's called for here is some kind of ML food exchange program where we each make batches of our signature dishes and overnight ship them on Tuesday to participants.

Mushroom pie, green jello salad, pumpkin pies all made by ML foodies? I'm so in!!

*Yeah, I was raised a Lutheran farm boy in Wisconsin...Anyone have real lefse? I really really miss fresh homemade lefse with Thanksgiving dinner.

#58 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Lance, tell you what: I will make you the mushroom pie, my addictive pesto-stuffed mushrooms, AND the chocolate silk pie, if you swear on your life that you will NOT send the green jello salad over this way. Can't do it. Sorry.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:31 AM:

Every time I see this thread's title, for a fleeting moment I find myself thinking (and hoping) it's about launching pumpkins from cannons.

#60 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Cold Stone's selling a pumpkin ice cream pie. How non-canonical is that?

#61 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:37 AM:

How about green jello with marmite?

#62 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:37 AM:

A year or so back a friend was working temporarily at the offices of Gelson's supermarkets. They got samples, one of which was pumpkin ice cream (made with goat's milk, but that's another matter). It was quite tasty (so was the French vanilla from the same creamery).

#63 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Good Times sells pumpkin pie frozen custard every November and it is absolutely the best thing to scoop on warm pumpkin pie.

#64 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Serge @59 --

Will this do?

#65 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Debbie @ 64.. It definitely does.

Coming soon to the Skiffy Channel... "Pumpkins 2: Seeds of Destruction".

#66 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:06 PM:

My husband, who works as a catering bartender, loves his Pulltap's wine tool, so much so that when he received a Rabbit corkscrew as part of the sponsor-provided gift bag from an event he worked recently, his first thought was not "which kitchen drawer will this fit in?", it was "hey, that'd make a good Christmas present for Lexi's Dad."

#67 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Lucy #31:

Turnips not required. The South Beach Diet includes a recipe for food-processed cauliflower with cream and ICantBelieveItsButter, which I naturally adapted to use real butter. The lemon and bay leaf sounds an interesting addition. Try a no-turnip experimental batch and see if the problems are more taste- or texture-related.

(Actually, this is when turnips start appearing here, usually--although now I think about it, I don't think I've seen them yet. I love them, spouse most definitely does not. If you've got a local Whole Paycheck, see them.)

#68 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:09 PM:

Lexica #66:

Wine tools do not fit in a kitchen drawer. They live in a prominent place out on the counter--in our case, on top of the microwave, along with the bottle-saver vacuum thingy and all the tea.

#69 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:21 PM:

My birthday's in late October and I've never much liked cake, so when I was growing up I always got a birthday pumpkin pie, with candles. When I try to make my own pumpkin pie, though, it always turns out kind of runny. Maybe I'll try this recipe.

And I'm doing Thanksgiving alone this year (by choice), so I get to pick and choose the dishes I want to make. Turkey, check. Sweet potatoes, check, hold the gooey marshmallow topping (ick). Pumpkin pie with slightly exotic ingredients, check. And spinach, probably.

Anyone have a good spinach recipe? Opening a can and plopping the contents in a bowl just doesn't say Thanksgiving to me.

#70 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 12:23 PM:

Well, my absolute favorite spinach dish would be saag paneer and now that I think about it, it might actually be a really good dish at the holiday table.

#71 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Sweet potatoes, check, hold the gooey marshmallow topping (ick)

Have you tried taking simple boiled or baked sweet potatoes, and mashing them with orange juice concentrate? (The stuff that comes frozen in cans.) Simple to make, not too sweet, and with a touch of citrus tang that is a refreshing tang compared to the syrups and sugar of many recipes.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Fresh spinach, washed (takes some doing), and then cooked to wilting in just the water on the leaves - that's tasty.

Baked sweet potatoes, split and buttered, are really good, too.

(You might want to look at 'Chef Bobo's Good Food' cookbook, by Robert Surle. Lots of veggie dishes, and other healthier food. The mac-and-cheese is worth the effort.)

#73 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Re tin-opening injuries: the worst scar I've got is on the ball of my right thumb, when a sub-optimally maintained tin-opener slipped immediately after opening a tin of tuna. It's about 30mm long, and 5mm wide at the widest.

This happened late at night on Valentine's Day, and the closest A&E was in Milton Keynes, so I had to wait nearly all of overnight while they dealt with the normal sort of injury that arises in alcohol-fuelled dystopias on such nights. Due to the position of the wound, and the relative lack of training of everyone around me till they saw me, I went through four improvised bandages till the doctor put butterfly stitches on.

Here, all pumpkin pie is non-canonical, but I rarely let that stop me when presented with it. (We held Canadian Thanksgiving this year, since that's what we had handy. Canadians, that is. They roast up very nicely with a bit of butter and maple syrup.)

#74 ::: K.C. Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Lance @ 70: saag paneer looks yummy, although I think it would make a better centerpiece than a side dish for someone who's going to be stuffed to the gills with sweet potatoes as it is. I love anything with spinach, though, so maybe I'll give it a try on a non-feast day.

Ursula @ 71: I have the world's best sweet potato recipe, which I got from a former coworker years ago. It's pretty darn sweet (lots of brown sugar), but the pecans help cut the sweetness a little. I think one of my cousins uses orange juice in her sweet potatoes, though--I'll have to check her recipe when I get home.

As far as I'm concerned, sweet potatoes deserve more play than one or two days a year. I will definitely use the orange juice suggestion one of these days. Orange food mixed with orange food--it's got to be healthy!

#75 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:55 PM:

joann #67 -- no, it's the desserts that don't work. The turnip and cauliflower mash is heavenly, better than cauliflower by itself. Turnips are an interesting vegetable. They can be nasty, but handled with care, they are wonderful.

The librarian at our elementary school once featured the book The Enormous Turnip and served all the first-grade children sliced raw turnips and ranch dressing, thus hooking my daughter for life. Turnip cake, as presented in dimsum restaurants, is also wonderful. Turnips are also lovely in melanges, like your garden variety stew and that roasted roots thing that you get at the homes of people who read "Sunset" magazine and eat brie.

Has orange-colored cauliflower made it out of the Salinas and Pajaro valleys yet? It's the only possible improvement on a perfect vegetable. It's just the best cauliflower there is. It doesn't taste actually different, just really really good. And it's pretty.

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Sam @ 73

You had roasted Canadians for your Thanksgiving dinner??

LOL!

#77 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:10 PM:

Joann: I forgot to add: I've been to Whole Foods in other parts of the country, and I'm not really impressed. We have home-grown natural foods stores that carry local produce. For some reason I can get turnips at the store even though I can't get them at the farmer's market.

What we don't have right here is a good Asian market -- I have to go over the hill or down to Marina (just north of Monterey) for that. The Saturday farmer's market is good for long beans and stuff, but there are some veggies I just don't get all that often.

And I don't know a place closer than San Francisco to get mustard oil, speaking of saag.

#78 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Kathryn @ 38: Searching for 'pepitas' turns up some very yummy looking concoctions! Thank you!

#79 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer (75): Has orange-colored cauliflower made it out of the Salinas and Pajaro valleys yet?.

I don't know about orange, but I had deep purple cauliflower in Waterloo, Ontario, last month. It had a much stronger flavor than the cauliflower I'm used to, almost too strong for me. Pretty, though.

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Lucy #77:

Sorry, I had thought you were complaining because you couldn't find any turnips, so I was reassuring you that you could make the fake mashed without them.

Judging by the Palo Alto Whole Foods that opened up in 1988 just before we moved back to Austin, I can see your point about them. I've been spoiled by the flagship store downtown here; if you can't find it there or at Central Market (South Texas supermarket chain's high-end, semi-organic, lots-o-imports mini-chain), it's just not available. Not that that explains a certain lack of golden cauliflower; all I could find this week (because I'm making my own version of the dish in question tomorrow night) was the white.

(Which reminds me: boxes of clementines are now beginning to appear. I prefer the Old World varieties.)

I've read all the Sunset how-to-do books, and eat a lot of brie; does that make me one of "those people"? (Some years back, a grad student colleague and I discovered three things: that we had both lived in Palo Alto--she'd grown up there; that we had both sung in the West Bay Opera chorus, although not contemporaneously; and that our invariable first response, probably as a direct result of the chorus experience, to anybody who said "bring light food" was to round up the brie and crackers.)

#81 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:45 PM:

I'm a big fan of creamed spinach. One of the best variants is from a local comfort-food place (Hoover's) that includes a certain amount of jalapenos. Add in some parmesan, as do some steakhouses, and you're all set.

#82 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Easy creamed spinach:

Cooked spinach
pinch salt
pinch cayenne
big pinch Coleman's mustard
a few scrapings of nutmeg

Blend together

Add heavy cream until the mixture is muddy-colored.

Add a few drops of lemon juice to taste.


My wife LOVES this; I consider spinach to be edible--sort of like pencils.

#83 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Not quite onions, but: how do I avoid the squick factor in evaporated and condensed milk? It's fine once whatever it is has been all cooked up, but something just does not Smell Right about the raw ingredients. This has kept me from making any number of pies and various Mexican desserts, as well as from making one of the most popular variants on fudge.

#84 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Back to unflavored gelatin.

Emily is right about not trusting the conversion. It's approximate, not only because of the variation in envelope contents, but because of the variation(s) in liquids to be stiffened, other ingredients in the recipe, and amount of stiffness desired. If your recipe calls for ounces, tablespoons, etc., open the envelope(s) and measure it out. On the other hand, if your recipe calls for it in units of envelopes, it probably doesn't matter if there is 20% variation in contents. Or it might, but there's no way to find out beforehand.

Unflavored gelatin comes in bulk packaging for commercial food service, but unless you use a lot of it quickly, stick with the envelopes or small "bulk" quantities. Once you've opened up the packaging, it will begin to soak up atmospheric humidity and slowly gel.

Health food, natural food and even some ordinary supermarkets carry vegetarian gelatin and/or kosher gelatin, which is sometimes vegetarian and/or vegetarian gelatin substitutes. Follow the instructions on the package or search online for hints on use in recipes that call for ordinary gelatin.

#85 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:07 PM:

The Pate (as it is referred to in our house

1 lb (1.25 lb) chicken livers
1 stick (+a few tbs) butter
1 (2) cloves garlic
1/3 lb (1/2 lb) mushrooms, chopped up any which way
1 bunch (1 bunch) scallions
1 (1) pepper mill, loaded and ready to go
brandy or bourbon or whiskey (but not Laphroag!)
salt as needed (see below)

Take the scallions and cut the white/light green part away from the rest. Take half the green tops and mince into shreds, and set aside. You may crush or cut up the garlic; just don't leave it whole. Set your blender in a convenient place and put a dollop of booze in.

Now get a nice big skillet and melt 1/3 of the butter in it. Toss in the garlic and white part of the scallions, and when they start to cook a bit, drain the livers and toss them in too. Cook this until the livers are somewhat cooked all over but are still pink underneath. Then dump it all in the blender.

Put the skillet back on the stove and melt half of the remaining butter in it; then add the mushrooms and saute them until they start to "express their liquor", which is to say, when you notice that there's some liquid in the pan that isn't butter. Dump all that into the blender too. Grind some pepper on top; then puree the whole lot into an even paste. Add the scallion shreds and blend just a little more-- you want to see bits of scallion. At this point you may want to take a quick taste to see if you need salt (if you used salted butter, most likely you won't).

Now melt the remaining butter in the skillet, and add the mixture from the blender. When you can't scrape any more out, splash a little more booze in to rinse out the rest. Then using a spatula, cook the pate in the skillet, working the melted butter and liver paste together until they are well mixed.

Fire up the broiler in your oven and take one or two ovenproof crock-sort-of thingies. Spread the pate into the your crocks, smoothing out the top nicely. Do not overfill unless you want to clean your oven. Then put the crock(s) in the oven under the broiler and let them get nice and brown and bubbly on top. Then let cool until it's safe to put them (covered of course) in the refrigerator all day/overnight.

If you're wondering why here are two sets of quantities, it's because one pound of livers makes a reasonable amount, but the chicken processors these days are insisting on giving you a tub with 1.25 pounds in it. If this is what you're stuck with I recommend the two crock approach and making pate sandwiches with the second crock.

#86 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 03:16 PM:

It's funny about roasted vegetables since they are absurdly easy. It's the best way to treat parsnips.

An easy Jeff Smith recipe I stole from him years ago: take some carrots cut up (or those peeled baby ones) and cook them in a little butter. Then pour on some beer and cook them in it until done. Add a little dill weed towards the end.

#87 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Tracie @ 40, Emily @ 45 and others... also C. Wingate @ 85

Thanks for the gelatin comments. In many years of cooking from recipes from the intertubes I have often been frustrated by people assuming that their regional standards apply world-wide. Probably the most annoying example (due to its frequency) is the "stick" of butter.

So far as I can gather, a standard American butter stick is a quarter-pound. In Australia our standard package of butter is 250 grams (about a half-pound) and isn't at all stick-like in shape. You can imagine the problems that might occur if the person reading the recipe also assumed their local standards were universal and mixed in double the required amount of butter. (The three most common types of butter package in Australia. The 250g block is the default.

We do get gelatin in packages like those here, though I have never heard them called envelopes before. Everyone I know calls them sachets. The two standard packages at my supermarket are a 50 gram box containing 5 sachets of 10 grams (about 1/3 ounce) each or a 125 gram box of loose powder.

When you're talking to local people it's OK to talk about sticks and envelopes but, for those of us a bit further away, could we all include weight or volume measurements for everything?

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:33 PM:

#87: Heck . . . the shape of sticks varies within the U.S.A.

Growing up on the East Coast, I was used to "long" sticks. On the West Coast, shorter sticks seem to be the norm.

I found out last year, when making cookies, that shorter doesn't mean smaller. The cookies ended up really rich and greasy. One guy at work really loved them, so they didn't go to waste.

#89 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:37 PM:

88: The shape varies within the USA, but does the mass? If 1 stick = 1 stick, the shape doesn't matter when cooking. Is the stick standard so accepted that they are no longer labelled with mass?

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 07:54 PM:

#89: In the case of the sticks I was dealing with, shape didn't matter. The long, slender East Coast stick and the shorter, fatter West Coast stick were both 1/4 pound.

The picture on the cookie mix box showed a long stick, and (not having dealt with butter in a context where measuring it was important for a few years) assumed two of the shorter sticks I'd bought equaled one of the longer ones.

#91 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Watching Food TV as a panacea to a suck-ugly week of work.

Paula Deen did a sweet potato thingie with the pureed sweet potato mixed with something to stiffen it up, wrapped around a marshmallow, coated in shredded coconut and baked for a bit until it's all hot and browned.

The gear-head cap remover thingie we have is actually called a cap snaffler by the family(I don't type well very late), I just went down to get a bit of dessert and brought it up for a detailed look. It's made by Edlund of Burlington, VT, patent #189455(0?6? that number has been gouged). Name is "Top Off Jar & Bottle Screw Top Opener." all stamped on top. If I hadn't have looked I'd never have noticed. but it's faboo for removing screw-top lids from about 4.5 inches down to a bit less than 1 inch.

#92 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 10:55 PM:

Side note for Thanksgiving tables: A full salt shaker is a very good thing to have— not for the salt lovers, but in case of a spill of wine. Immediately salt the spill with as much salt as you can manage and it sucks the wine right out of the tablecloth.

This usually happened at least once a year at a holiday table, so it's well-ingrained in my head.

My specialty is cranberry sauce. Most places I've been sell carnberries in 12 oz (Imperial standard) bags, and the basic recipe is simple: 1 bag, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Boil the water and sugar, then add the cranberries, reduce heat a bit, and cook until all of the berries have popped.

But that's a bit boring. So I started off by substituting orange juice for the water, and different types of sugar for the white sugar, and adding spices, and mandarins* and it finally got to the point now where I have friends in far-flung locations who still mention my cranberry sauce and I'm making some for a coworker of my husband's because Evil Rob mentioned it. Right now it's orange juice (plus others we have in the fridge at the time), water, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, mandarins, and cranberries. And the cinnamon makes the place smell wonderful.

*The Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn, California is this weekend. They have about twenty local growers, and they all give free samples. The really cool part is that they're all different, so you can get your perfect mandarin. And somehow, this year I've ended up in a situation where I'm going to be buying four ten pound bags, and Target didn't have any of those little wire dolly shopping cart things! (Two for me. I'm making LOTS of cranberry sauce this year!)

#93 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:03 PM:

Regarding the opening of cans: I have an inch-long scar across the base of my right pinky from opening a pull-top cat-food can. When those things stick it's much safer to just get the can opener out and open it the wimpy way.
I currently have a lovely half-inch bubble on the right index finger from a poor hold on a cast-iron pan containing frittata. Conclusion: I am way too clumsy to cook or eat or live with anything that does either.

#94 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2007, 11:29 PM:

since we're sharing recipes.

We do this hors d'oeuvre for our Worldcon bid parties/parties/club parties/on request now for special things like super bowl parties. The only caveat is that they need labels, especially if you make them super hot, because they look like rough cookies...

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1 pound sausage, breakfast sausage works best because it's fine-textured. Italian sausage, stripped of its casing, IS makes an interesting product.
8 ounces of cheese, we've used everything from Cheez Wiz (easiest option) to shredded cheese of your choice.
2 cups Bisquick or other baking mix (has to have same general ingredients, though)
1-3 tablespoons of some kind of liquid culinary condiment (worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salsa, whatever)
You can also include dry seasonings at will.

Mix the cheese, sausage, dry seasonings and liquid condiment thoroughly but only to well-mixed, not smooth. I used my stand mixer a couple of times when we were doing the Worldcon bid and the results were, well, disconcerting in texture.

Mix in baking mix. Make sure it's thoroughly combined. Mixing it all by hand is a good thing, it's one of the gajillion things we keep non-powdered sterile latex gloves in the kitchen.

Make into small balls, they bake best if they're no bigger then about 3/4 inch. About a teaspoon scoop (heaping) makes nice bites of snack.

Dish out onto a baking sheet coated with spray release. They don't rise much, but do give them about an inch between or you'll end up with a sausage-biscuit sheet....

Bake for about 15 minutes or until bottoms brown and the balls are a bit browned.

count per recipe depends on size.

They keep like cookies if they're kept dry. if we make them for home use, we tend to put them in the fridge because it takes a while to go through them.

#95 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 02:25 AM:

Joann, yes, you're one of those people (the Sunset readers who eat brie and roast veggies). So am I, though imperfectly. I'm not really fond of brie. (crackers and brie are not light food!)

I have decided, reluctantly, that purple cauliflower and broccoli are simply inferior to the regular varieties, and Romanesco is too, and that's a double double shame because it looks so beautiful.

Since I have an overachieving pomegranate tree in my yard and no cranberry bog, I have begun to experiment with pomegranates done as cranberries. I think I'm on to something. I saw Bobby Flay mention pomegranates as one of the more exotic things he brings to the Thanksgiving table, but I was thinking, Thanksgiving is about the harvest, right? Cranberry sauce became popular in the first place because there were cranberry bogs all over New England, right? I don't live in New England. Cranberries are exotic to me ($5 something a pound exotic, or less if in plastic). Pomegranates grow like a weed in my backyard. So why shouldn't I?

Farmer's market tomorrow. I'll see what I find there.

#96 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 10:03 AM:

#94 ::: Paula Helm Murray

...until bottoms brown and the balls are a bit browned.

When I refreshed the page this morning, this was the top line. I woke up a bit faster. Oh, it's part of a recipe.

...wanders back out to brush teeth.

#97 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 08:36 PM:

@69 and following -

Spinach.

I usually use fresh spinach (or spinach that was fresh when I bought it) but this would probably work for frozen as well. With canned... well... I've never been a big fan of canned spinach (it always seems overcooked and tinny) but you could try it.

Spinach, about 1 lb (fresh or previously-frozen thawed)
One medium onion.
Garlic (fresh or otherwise), to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Pan, cast iron or otherwise.
Olive oil, butter, or similar fat, enough to slick up the bottom of the pan.
Other Things (see below)

Heat the fat in the pan on medium heat. You don't want it to smoke.

Slice or mince the onion into fairly thin pieces and introduce them to the hot fat. Stir often enough to stop it sticking. If you are using fresh garlic, now's the time.

If the spinach is fresh, rinse thoroughly, drain well, and tear into small pieces. If the spinach was frozen, squeeze over the sink to drain well.

When the onion is mostly translucent and starting to brown slightly, add the spinach. If using fresh, you will probably need to add it in batches as fresh spinach loses a great deal of its volume during cooking. Previously-frozen, it's already been squooshed into that little box, so this is less of a concern.

Turn down the heat to low after all the spinach is into the pan and stir often enough that it doesn't stick. If you are using dried garlic, now's the time. Heat the spinach through - it doesn't take more than a few minutes unless your frozen spinach is still frozen.

Just before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is, or with rice or noodles. A pound of greens makes about 2-3 main dish portions or about 4 side portions (double that if served with noodles, as I usually do) - it really does cook down quite a bit.


Other Things:

This is one of my favorite methods for the one category of vegetables my resident chef won't eat: cooked greens. This works for spinach but I've also done it to swiss chard, kale, and even surplus zucchini.

Lemon-pepper seasoning is a nice addition, so's a touch of curry powder.

Slivered toasted almonds are nice.

If you have leftover cooked meat (chicken, sausage, etc) this is a nice way to stretch it out into a one-pot dish - just cut it up small and throw it in the pan after the onion and before the spinach.

#98 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Oh, and we just learned this evening that Thanksgiving's going to be at our house.

(The Famn Damily was supposed to gather at his aunt and uncle's place this year, like we did two years ago, but the uncle has to work that night so the aunt un-invited the rest of us and declared she was going to her sister's, which means the rest of the turkeys inlaws are landing at our place with... ... ... four days notice.)

(It's this sort of thing that makes me appreciate how non-crazy my own relatives are.)

#99 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:12 AM:

The Taco Cabanas in my area usually sell a fairly wonderful pumpkin flan during this season.

#100 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:15 AM:

For the sausage cookie recipe, it seems to make a lot. Can the raw mix be shaped and frozen, to be baked later?

#101 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:15 AM:

Request for advice:

I just watched America's Test Kitchen and am enamored of their sweet-potato casserole recipe. (5 lbs sweet potato + 1 cup brown sugar + salt/pepper, cooked down on the stovetop with a scant cup water [the sweet potatoes bring the rest of the required liquid], top with whole pecans and bake.)

However, the family with whom we're doing Thanksgiving includes someone with a (potentially fatal) nut allergy. Needless to say, the pecan topping is Right Out.

The topping seemed to provide a useful flavor and especially textural counterpoint to the sweet potatoes, so I'm loath to simply omit it. Does anyone have substitution ideas? I was thinking pepitas, at a first approximation, but any other ideas would be welcome. (He's allergic to both tree nuts and peanuts, so no substitutions in either of those families would work in this case.)

#102 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:55 AM:

We don't do Thanksgiving here in Australia so the tradition of roasting something large is moved to Christmas (despite it often being a very hot day). Several times I have done a turducken and I have just now finished writing up the method and posting it on the Something Awful spin-off cooking wiki.

If you want to ignore Ms. Moon’s totally sensible advice that Thanksgiving Dinner is not the time to try something new, different, and fancy that you’ve only seen described and the above pie recipe seems a little simple, you might like to try a turducken.

#103 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:18 AM:

Betsy@#101: I don't know what might substitute for pecans flavor-wise (since in my experience nothing tastes like nuts except, well, nuts), but for texture and crust-supplying properties coarse bread crumbs might work, or crushed chow mein noodles. Or maybe a flour-and-butter streusel.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Betsey @ 101

I'm looking at the 'Fall Entertaining' issue of Cooks Illustrated, which has a sweet-potato casserole where half the sweet potatoes (they start with 7 lbs) are pureed after baking, and the other half are broken into 1-inch chunks, for more texture. Seasonings (light on pepper and nutmeg, more vanilla and lemon juice) and egg yolks and half-and-half in the potato puree. Streusel topping - that's where the pecans are hiding.

I think you can substitute pepitas and maybe unsalted sunflower seeds. It won't have the same flavor, but in the streusel it will still be crunchy.

#105 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:31 AM:

My mother never liked the electric can openers, so for years we had the hand cranked kind (the Starfrit brand, in particular). Lately, her hands have started to bother her, so we picked her up a battery operated no-hands can opener, which she seems to really like. Also works during power outages, if you remember to keep yourself in batteries.

#106 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:33 AM:

#94, that's too funny, our convntion last week was our local adult relaxacon, ConTraCeption.

#100, yes, and they can also be baked off and frozen once cooled down.

#101, are pine nuts within the allergic persons allergies? If not they would add a nice flavor and crunch.

#107 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Betsey@101: I bet some kind of crunchy cereal topping would come close. Mmm, Cap'n Crunch!!! :)

#108 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Betsey, #101, maybe a cookie topping? Vanilla cookies?

#109 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:42 PM:

#95 Lucy: My parents have a pomegranate tree too, but we must be a bit north of you since they're pretty much done by now.

We like impressing the pomegranate lovers, though. "Yes, they're supposed to get that big. And split. But they can't sell the split ones in the store, you know..."

#110 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:38 AM:

#91, Paula Helm Murray

Armed with the info you provided, I went and found this jar opener (scroll down, sorry). I'm surprised to find it is nothing at all like Grandmama's. Hers was much closer to the Swing Away gadget I posted earlier--a pair of jaws and an offset handle that includes a squeeze-lever to tighten the jaws. This is the closest approximation I can find, but hers was all-metal. I wouldn't buy plastic.

Rats.

#111 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:48 AM:

for the topping, pretzel stix, coated with butter and brown sugar? Like in that infamous strawberry jello/cream cheese/pretzel crust dessert of the LDS?

#112 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:48 PM:

@101,

I would modify the recipe a little.

Cook the sweet potatoes, but use OJ instead of water.

Put the brown sugar on top, and caramelize it a little. The brown-sugar topping should turn into a hard toffee--like the topping on a creme brulee.

Alternately (and recommendedly) make the topping, break it into bits, and put it on top of the sweet potatoes. (This way if you burn it, you just throw it away and try again.)

#113 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:19 PM:

I went out and bought the ancillary not-in-my-pantry ingredients to make this (coconut, plain gelatin, evaporated milk) after I get back from my holiday and possible business travels. (First I have to ascertain my gf's take on coconut...)

My intention is to substitute defrosted pre-cooked butternut squash for the pumpkin, largely because I had a couple of squashes hanging around that needed cooking, and I'm kind of tired of soup, which is my usual method of using up cooked, frozen squash pulp.

I'll report back.

#114 ::: Betsey Langan ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:14 AM:

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm thinking either pepitas or, if I can't find them (for a reasonable price) either a streusel or brittle topping, depending on how adventurous I'm feeling on the day of. But thanks for the ideas! (Well, OK, most of the ideas. Captain Crunch?!)

#115 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:20 AM:

re 113: The substitution should work fine.

#116 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Betsey @ 114

Pepitas in the streusel!
(Not a silly idea: people put chopped nuts in it.)

#117 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:35 PM:

The sausage cookie bites? DAMN GOOD.

#118 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 03:00 AM:

OK. So I just made this, short of the topping, and it's really delicious. Even with butternut squash (frozen and defrosted) standing in for the pumpkin. (I did decide to include the coconut.)

Yum!

I will remake for my Christmas dessert party - if I do decide to have one.

#119 ::: MacAllister sees spam @119 ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2010, 10:16 PM:

Tool spam, though. It could be worse...

#120 ::: Mary Aileen agrees about the spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2010, 10:11 AM:

Yeah, it could be the other kind of tool.

#121 ::: Stefan Jones sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Die, spammer, die.

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