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2013-11-20 / Loose Ends

Loose Ends

Holiday baking traumas
Susan Nienow

Cooking for the holidays will never go down under the favorite memories category. There was the pumpkin pie I put out on the deck to cool. I am still being scolded by my son who told me a dog would get it because a dog did get it. He ate the middle out of it and spread the rest over the deck.

Then there was the pumpkin pie that I forgot to add the sugar to. It was in the oven for about 15 minutes when I strolled through the kitchen and saw the cup of sugar sitting on the counter. So I did what any pastry chef would do – I took it out of the oven, poured the pumpkin mix into a bowl, added the sugar and stirred. Then I poured the mix back into the pie shell and stuck it back into the oven. It turned out fine.

Speaking of pumpkin, there was also the pumpkin bread I promised to bring to the Thanksgiving dinner at the preschool. Running late as usual, I took one of the loaves out of the oven, ran a knife around the edge and turned it upside down on a plate. It stayed in the pan, but the batter in the middle ran out.

It is not as easy to put batter in the crack in the top of the loaf of bread, as it is to pour it into a pie shell. I let my other half go on to the dinner with the kids, and baby-sat the pumpkin bread in the oven. It actually finished baking and was edible. I haven’t made pumpkin bread since then, though.

I haven’t made pies since I discovered mine weren’t any better than the ones I bought. Making pie crusts is a talent I never mastered. Since pie is on my shortlist of favorite foods and is also on the list of foods with the highest calorie count, I have refrained from making pies except for pumpkin and pecan at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Making four pies a year really isn’t enough to master the technique of flaky crusts.

Turkeys weren’t that hard to master once I discovered that half the secret of success is to thaw it early enough. I spent one Thanksgiving Day switching the turkey from one coldwater bath to another trying to thaw it enough to get the plastic bag of – well, innards – out of the cavity of the turkey.

The wrapper on the outside of the turkey failed to warn against frostbite of the fingers.

And there is the other half of the secret to turkey success – watch for the pop-up timer. While overdone turkey can be rescued with cranberry sauce and gravy, underdone turkey is unappealing and probably unsafe no matter what covers it.

The only thing I have to deal with today is my other half trying to give Thanksgiving dinner a little gourmet touch here and there. Sorry, “whipped cream” comes in a plastic tub, the pie from the concrete-floor store, the dressing in a plastic bag and the turkey with its own timer. I like it that way.

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