Grandma's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This pie reminds me of childhood. My mom’s family was all back east, so holidays were spent with my dad’s side of the family. My grandma would make her pumpkin chiffon pie every Thanksgiving. I was totally unaware that this wasn’t the traditional pumpkin pie of holiday lore. The first time I had a slice (brick) of standard baked pumpkin pie, it was a rude awakening. Grandma’s pumpkin chiffon pie is light and fluffy and perfectly spiced. It’s perfect after a heavy holiday meal, but it’s even more perfect as leftovers the next morning for breakfast. This pie must be topped with a generous pillow of freshly whipped cream to reach its full pumpkin pie potential.

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Grandma’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Ingredients

One 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1/4 cold water
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar, separated
3 eggs, separated*

*The egg yolks are cooked into a sort of custard but the egg whites are whipped and incorporated into the pie filling raw. If you’re like me and feel squicky about eating raw eggs, separate your yolks and save the egg whites for an omelette. You can buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton near where the eggs are sold in most grocery stores (make sure you buy egg whites specifically and not whole eggs). If you go this route, there’s a tiny bit of math involved because you’ll need to multiple however many tablespoons of pasteurized egg white you’d sub for one egg by three for this recipe.

Directions

You need a double-boiler for this recipe but the good news is that if you don’t have one, you can easily fake it. Fill a pot with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a heat-safe mixing bowl that’s big enough so the sides are wider than the mouth of the pot. You want your bowl to sit in the mouth of the pot and hang down into the pot but not be submerged in your water. I like to use a glass Pyrex bowl so I can easily check that my water is still boiling by scraping the bottom of my bowl (so I don’t have to lift the side of the bowl and let my precious heat escape).

Soften gelatin by sprinkling it over the cold water and letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. You don’t need to stir it into the water.

In the top of your double-boiler (or mixing bowl) combine pumpkin, milk, spices, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk together and continue stirring until thick. You want the water in the bottom of the double-boiler to remain at a gentle boil so your mixture will cook. Cook and whisk occasionally until your mixture thickens to pudding consistency (about 10 - 15 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture.

Cool. I usually pop my pumpkin mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. If you mix your egg whites in while it’s still too hot it will kind of curdle and break. This pie sounds a bit high maintenance, I know, but trust me; it’s worth it.

In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stuff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cooled pumpkin mixture until well combined. Pour into baked (cooled) pie shell and chill.

Serve with oodles of fresh whipped cream and the smug knowledge that you win Thanksgiving, you devilish Pie Master.

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Have You Eaten?

My Auntie Ollie would greet everyone with a giant hug, a kiss on the lips, and always the same question: “have you eaten?” It didn’t matter if the answer was yes, you were about to get fed. Homemade baked goods, some form of roasted meat, cheese, nuts, her famous pickles and meatballs, she could pull together a gourmet plate in two minutes flat.

I know that food isn’t actually love, but sometimes it feels an awful lot like it.

I had a bit of an odd day. I woke up and finished reading Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved, which left me feeling discombobulated and a bit raw. It was a well-written book, and I enjoyed it, I just wasn’t expecting to connect so emotionally with the story.

My emotional hangover and the pouring rain set the tone for the day. I started with buttermilk pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse and dotted with chocolate chips for Grady, followed by a shrimp omelette for Shawn. I spent hours stirring Poppy’s favourite pasta sauce as it simmered away on the stove. I hard-boiled eggs and layered them with bacon and local tomatoes and baby spinach for packed lunches. I washed peaches and blueberries and contemplated picking blackberries before the rain picked up and kept me inside.

Food isn’t love, exactly, but we all need to be fed and there’s something beautiful in the simple act of feeding others.

Blueberry Oat Crumble Bars

We're fortunate enough to live five minutes away from a blueberry farm. Our fridge is overflowing with blueberries. We've gone through twenty pounds of blueberries in the last two weeks. I'm not exaggerating. Poppy has had some truly horrific diapers.

These bars are rich and buttery but the blueberries add a fresh element so they're not too heavy. They're great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream, but they're also a lovely summer breakfast with a little yogurt and an iced coffee. These bars are versatile is what I'm saying.

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Blueberry Oat Crumble Bars

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup cold butter
4 cups fresh blueberries
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease 9" x 13" pan.

In large mixing bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture is uniformly crumbly. Reserve 1-1/2 cups mixture and press the remaining into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In another mixing bowl, gently stir together blueberries, lemon juice, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour blueberries over crust. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top of the blueberry mixture.

Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until blueberries are bubbly and top is lightly golden.

 

Spicy Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies do not make any sense. Let's start with the name: Spicy Oatmeal Cookies. Spicy, to me, means hot like a chili pepper. These cookies are not hot like a chili pepper. They're spiced. They contain nutmeg and cloves and taste a little bit like autumn. But they're not spicy. They don't even contain cinnamon, which I would consider the "spiciest" oatmeal cookie spice, you know? Next, they contain no chocolate. None. No cocoa powder, no chocolate chips, nary a chocolate chunk in sight. What even is the point? Also, these are crunchy cookies. I definitely prefer to stay in the land of ooey, gooey, chewy cookies.  Finally, the most egregious abuses of baked goods: they contain nuts. Not almonds or pecans, the less offensive of the nut world. Walnuts. The worst. 

And yet, when my sister texted me a picture of the recipe card where she recorded Mom's Spicy Oatmeal Cookies we remember so fondly from childhood, I couldn't wait to get baking. The only substitution I made was to use butter in place of shortening; the rest I kept exactly how my mom used to make when we were kids. And they are perfection. Grady won't eat them because of all the bits, Poppy can't eat them because she's allergic, and Shawn just looks confused whenever he bites into one and realizes all over again that these are non-chocolate cookies, but I don't care. They are exactly how I remember them.

A quick note: you might be tempted to skip the almond extract because it seems a bit fuss-ass to have both vanilla and almond extract but please, for the sake of your cookies, resist. Use both and revel in the tastiness. 

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Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
7/8 cup all-purpose flour (whaaaaat? I know. I just used my one cup measure and scooped out a heaping tablespoon. Old recipes are weird.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup medium shred, unsweetened coconut
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. 

Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture just until combined.

Add coconut, oatmeal, and walnuts.

Form dough into small balls. Flatten slightly. Place on baking sheet spaced approximately 1.5 inches apart.

Bake 12 - 14 minutes until lightly golden.

Enjoy! 

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.