Grammy’s Pumpkin Pie

I don’t know how long this has been handed down, I’ve always just known it as Grammy’s recipe (my mom’s grandmother).  This recipe is a little different than most pumpkin pie recipes. It uses less pumpkin, so it’s not as strong. Also, the texture is a little different. My     mom says it’s more like a custard (I’m not sure what that means since I’m not a custard fan).  Anyway, here goes:

Pie in a cake pan.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
1 ½ cups evaporated milk (1 can)
1 ½ tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 425. Prepare a pie crust in at least a 9” pie pan.

Combine the beaten eggs, brown sugar and pumpkin in a medium sized bowl. Stir until smooth.

Add the salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice, stir in well.

Stir in the milk.

Add the melted butter, and finish stirring.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

Place in 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, then turn it down to 350 for another 25-30 minutes.

The pie is done when a knife comes out clean.

Tips:

If you use a smaller pie pan, you will have a mess as it will spill over while it cooks.
I discovered this year that cake pans work really well in a pinch.
You can use an electric mixer or a whisk, doesn’t really matter which.
The original recipe calls for the butter to be ‘a piece about the size of a walnut’ but I have adjusted it over the years and found that a tablespoon and a half is about right.

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Here’s what I’ve done so far today:

Cooked the corn casserole. It’s in the fridge, just needs to be thrown in the oven/microwave to reheat.

Baked the apple pie. It’s in fridge, cooling.

Cooked and crumbled the bacon for the stuffing and green beans. They’re in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Finely chopped and sauted one onion for the green beans and carrot dishes. It’s in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Baked one pumpkin pie. It’s cooling on the counter before I wrap it up and put it in the fridge.

Baking the second pumpkin pie. It’ll be out of the oven in about 45 minutes.

PIES ARE DONE

Convinced the kid that his bicycle could fit in his room if he cleaned up and rearranged a bit. Now I not only have room for tomorrow, but I can put my tree up on Friday.

Things I still need to do tonight while I still have extra hands to help:

Dust downstairs

Sweep and vacuum downstairs

Move furniture around so there’s room to put the leaf in the table so we can all sit down to eat tomorrow. Well, four of us will be able to sit. Still not sure what to do for a fifth seat.

Put the leaf in the table.

BABY PROOF! The grand baby is crawling now.

Eat dinner. I’m frickin’ starving after all this.

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Stoup in under 2 hours

I needed a relatively quick, yet really cheap idea for dinner that would allow for enough leftovers to get a whole other meal out of it (for 3 people). I had $10 in my pocket to last me until Thanksgiving.

I went to the grocery store and got about a pound of stew meet for $3.00, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for $.98, and a can of crushed tomatoes for $.98. I had potatoes because DUH! Thanksgiving’s on Thursday.

At home, I crushed up two cloves of garlic and sauted them up in my dutch oven with some vegetable oil. The chunks of stew meat were a little big, so I cut them up into smaller pieces, and then dredged them in floor. Next, I browned the meat with the garlic. While that was browning, I cut up 3 potatoes into ½ cubes (maybe a big smaller). Once the meat was brown I threw in the potatoes, added about six cups of water, dumped in the frozen veggies, and the can of tomatoes. I added some salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. Over a full flame on the top of the stove I allowed it all to come to a boil.

Once it started boiling, I turned it down to medium-low and let it cook for about an hour, stirring a couple of times.

After about an hour, I mixed up about 1/3 of a cup of Wondra flour with 1 cup of water, and stirred it into the pot, hoping it would thicken up to a stew consistency.  I put the lid back on and let it simmer for another half hour or so. Unfortunately, it didn’t get quite as thick as I had originally wanted it, but it’s thicker than a soup. I suppose I could have added more flour, but I was starving and didn’t want to wait another half an hour for the flour to cook.

Anyway, my son, who’s a seriously picky eater, and doesn’t like stew, and isn’t a huge soup fan either just yelled at me from the other room that this was AMAZING!

Usually, when I have more money and time, I also chop up an onion and sauté it up with the garlic, cook it at least 3 hours, and then add a box of mushrooms about ½ an hour before I’m ready to eat.

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Bacon and mushroom stuffing

Bacon and mushroom stuffing for a 14-16 lb turkey

6 cups or so of cubed bread (a bag of the prepared stuff works great)
½ cup of melted butter
4 oz of bacon (about ¼ of a 1 lb package, sliced) cut into 1/4” pieces
2 medium onions, chopped (I may only use 1 to 1 1/2, as I’m not a huge onion fan)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb of fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp Sage
1 tsp Thyme

Sauté the bacon until it’s about half way crisp. Add the onions and cook until they begin to become translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and cook until they become soft.

Put the bread in a large bowl. Add the spices and stir it up. Add the bacon/onion/mushroom mixture, and stir well. If it seems too dry, add the melted butter, but the bacon fat may be enough.

Stuff the turkey appropriately (about 2/3 full). Any remaining stuffing can be put into a greased baking dish and baked separately.

Or, when stuffing the bird, wrap the stuffing in some cheese cloth before putting it in the bird. Remove the package from the bird about an hour before it’s done, and mix it with the remaining stuffing before putting it in the baking dish, and put it in the oven after the turkey is done cooking and while you’re making gravy. If it still seems a little dry you can add some stock or more butter to add some moisture. I prefer my stuffing on the drier/crispier side, and then cover it in gravy.

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A thousand words on how to cook a turkey

I was writing this out to share with a friend and decided that I’d post it here to for all of posterity.

Take the bird out of the fridge at least an hour before you’re ready to stuff it. Take it out of all the packaging. Don’t forget that there are packages of giblets in the main cavity, and there may be some in the neck, too. The first time I did a turkey I forgot that package until I was stuffing it.  Rinse it in cold tap water, and then pat it dry, both inside and out. Let it rest and come to a general room temp (doesn’t have to be exact, but it’ll cook more evenly than if it’s cold. If there is a metal bracket that holds the legs together, try to keep it in. It will come in very handy later. If it comes out, that’s ok, but try to remember where it was stuck so you can try to re-use it after the bird is stuffed.

While the bird is resting, fix the stuffing.

There are a couple of ways of doing the stuffing. I’m going to try something a little different this year. Usually I stuff the bird as best I can, and then bake the rest later so we have leftovers. This year, I’m going to wrap some of the stuffing in cheesecloth before stuffing it into the main cavity. Then, when there’s only about an hour or so left I’ll pull it out and mix it with the rest of the stuffing before I bake it. That way, you get the flavor of the in-the-bird stuff with the crispiness of the baked (I prefer my stuffing to be crispy, I do not like it soggy)

With the bird, I pull the breast skin, and as much of the thigh/leg skin away from the meat and shove slivers of butter and slices of garlic between the skin and meat. This adds a lot of flavor.

Then you can put the stuffing in. Remember to not stuff it too full because the stuffing will expand and could make a mess.

Start with the neck area. A large spoonful or two is probably plenty (the large kind of cooking spoon). Pull the skin down over the stuffing and then tuck the tips of the wings under to hold it in place.  If you can’t get that to work, use some toothpicks or skewers.

Then, stuff the main cavity. Again, only fill it about 2/3s full. If you have the metal bracket, slip the legs back into it (so that the turkey looks like it’s trying to keep its legs crossed). This can sometimes take a little muscle, but don’t worry about hurting it, the bird’s already dead. If you don’t have the metal clip, tie the legs together with string (I’ve even used sewing thread a couple of times when I didn’t have any string.) Tying the legs together helps keep the stuffing in so that it doesn’t come out as it expands.

If you want, you can put salt and pepper and maybe some sage on the outside of the breast. I don’t cook with much salt, so I don’t usually do that step.

If you have any cheesecloth (and I strongly recommend finding some, I know WalMart carries it in the fabric section), Cut a piece about 2 feet long (long enough to reach from one end of the bird to the other). Unfold it so that it’s only about 2 layers thick. Lay it over the bird like you were covering it with a blanket. You want it to cover as much as possible.

Pick the bird up and put it in your roasting pan. It’s really better if you have a rack in the pan, but if you don’t that’s ok. Make sure the cheese cloth is tucked under all around, but if you’re going to remove the stuffing early leave it loose at the ends. Once I tried wrapping it all the way around, but it was no fun trying to take it off a hot bird.

Melt a stick or two of butter/margarine or use some olive oil and poor it all over the cheesecloth to saturate the entire bird.

You’re ready to pop it in the oven. Figure about 20 minutes a pound at 325 degrees.

I usually try to remember to baste about every ½ hour to 45 minutes, nothing too taxing, just a couple of spoonfuls of the pan drippings over the breast.

Use a meat thermometer if you have one, everything should be at least 165 degrees, check the breast, the thigh, and the stuffing (unless you’re removing that early)

When the bird is done, take it out and remove it from the pan to a cutting board, one with ridges to catch the drippings if you have one. You need to let it rest for at least ½ an hour to 45 minutes. Anything over an hour is a waste, and you could end up with cold turkey.  This gives you plenty of time to make the gravy. Take the cheese cloth off when it’s still warm and wet from the basting. It can get a little hard to pull off once it starts to cool.

The cheese cloth keeps the skin from getting too cooked, or burnt before the bird’s ready. You don’t need to tent it with aluminum foil if you use the cloth. I have a small oven and never have room for the aluminum foil, and the cheese cloth just works so well it’s not worth it to me to use it.

Carving should be one of the last things you do before sitting down to eat.

If you have the time (I know you have your hands full, so it’s not essential) try to plan out a schedule ahead of time and print it out. It’s very easy to forget things when you’re rushing around trying to get everything ready at the same time. I’ve been working on my scheduled for weeks and I think I’m ready.

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Why would God do this

I have a friend, I guess he’s actually more of an acquaintance.  We were friends in high school, and recently reconnected on Facebook a couple of years ago.

In high school, he was the class clown, the king of the pun. You could never take anything he said seriously. He was such a card that when he told me one morning, before class started, that his father had died the night before, I didn’t believe him, and scoffed at him. It turns out, he wasn’t joking that time. The guilt I felt for that haunted me for nearly 30 years, until I was able to tell him, on Facebook, how ashamed I was of myself.  The funny thing is that he doesn’t remember me being there.

Anyway, since high school, he has become a Methodist minister. When I first discovered this, I wasn’t sure I wanted to friend him on Facebook. I am not a believer, and I have little trust in organized religions, nor the people who run them.

At first, I was very cautious on the things I said to him. I didn’t want to offend, and I really didn’t want to start any kind of debates about gay rights, or other hot button issues. But, one of the things I’ve learned during this past presidential season is that he is more liberal than I am, which surprised the crap out of me. I didn’t think ANYONE I went to high school with would be more liberal that me, let alone a Methodist minister.

Anyway, the point is, that this is a man who cares very deeply for everyone. He has a heart bigger than anyone else I know. He’s kind, and sweet, and loving. He has a wife and two beautiful young children.

OK, now, here’s why I’m asking why would go do this…His wife has some serious medical issues.  I don’t know exactly what the underlying diagnosis is, but I think she has diabetes, and some other chronic ailments.  But I do know that in the 2 to 3 years that he and I have been Facebook friends it seems like she’s been in the hospital more than she’s been home. The most recent incidence involved an abscessed leg that eventually had to be amputated.  The surgery had to be rescheduled several times because of one thing or another, but finally, several weeks ago, they took the leg.  I don’t know what the normal recovery time is for this kind of procedure is, but with today’s health insurance, I can’t imagine they’d let her stay for more than a week or so, but she continued to have complications, and excessive pain.

Yesterday, he posted that they’d had to rearrange the whole house because her new wheelchair was not going to fit through their bedroom door, so their bedroom was moved to the living room, and the kids played musical bedrooms. He was hoping she’d finally come home today.

This afternoon, he simply posted She’s home. He received 71 likes for this simple post, including 1 from me. I was really happy for him, and for the children. I can’t imagine the stress on all of them during all of this.

Only a few hours later, he posted that he’d had to call an ambulance to come and pick her up and take her back to the hospital. She’d been vomiting ever since she’d gotten home, and he couldn’t get her to the car by himself. He hopes it’s just a problem with her medication.

I’m keeping her in my thoughts, but seeing as I’m not a religious person I won’t be a hypocrite and say I’ll pray. And when these sorts of things happen to people like him, and his family it just reinforces my doubts. How could a good and just god allow this sort of pain and suffering to happen someone who’s dedicated his whole life to the word of the bible.

Through all of her medical issues, he’s also had to deal with  his congregation, along with his mentor’s death, and some other extended family and friend issues. He’s the guy everyone goes to for guidance, so I wonder who he goes to. I truly hope that he has someone who can be there for him.

I don’t know how he can keep his faith through all of this. But if there is a god, I also hope that my friend has had enough, and that things begin to look up for him.

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My theory on why ‘trickle down’ doesn’t work

I have nothing to base this on except for 30 years of watching the Dow Jones, and working in corporate America.

The reason that ‘Trickle Down Economics” doesn’t work is because the folks at the top don’t spend their extra money, they invest it in stocks, bonds, and any other way they can think of to avoid paying taxes on it.

Once the money goes into the investment system, it just gets moved around from stock to stock. None of it actually makes it back into the economy.

Yes, the hope is that with these investments that corporate stocks will go up.  In theory, when corporate stocks go up that the CEOs for these companies will feel more confident and will expand their businesses or give their employees raises.

The problem is that the speed at which these expansions and raises happen is slower than a glacier.

If they truly want to stimulate the economy, let the middle class have more cash. They’re more likely to go out and spend it on goods and services and keep the money in circulation. The middle class will buy more things like cars and electronic equipment and clothes. They go out to eat more often. They use more services like upgrading their cellphone plans and cable TV packages.

These actions raise company’s revenues. If a company is any good, increased revenue will leads to increased profits, and investors LOVE increased profits. With increased profits, the rich folks will be more inclined to put their money into the stocks of these companies, and THAT will raise the stock prices.

So, give the money to the middle class and things will get better all the way around.

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