Wow, I can’t believe another year has passed so fast.
You’re probably wondering where, oh where, have I been? I got a new job three months ago. Enough said, right? :)
Anyway, yesterday was Christmas, and I baked a primal pumpkin pie (nut meal crust and honey). It tasted great … and was a disaster in every other way, especially the crust, which was was so runny, I barely got it to work as a crumble crust.
But all is well that ends well. The filling set really well, the crust was rich and nutty and delicious, and the honey gave it a warm lingering sweetness that was WAY better, in my opinion, than the icky aftertaste sugar leaves in your mouth. The hubby declared the best pumpkin pie he had ever had.
I would give you a recipe, but it was kind of random. Here’s how it went:
Grind up 6 dates in the food processor. Remove the gooey lump and set aside. Refill food processor with roughly 3/4 cup each of hazelnut and almond meal. Add large spoonfuls of coconut oil until you think you have about 2/3 cup; blend. Mix in gooey dates one small lump at a time. Pour out dough and think worriedly that it’s WAY too runny. Add a few more spoonfuls of hazelnut meal until its congealed enough to press into an 8 inch cast iron pan as a crumble crust. Put it into the refrigerator and hope for the best.
Cut up a small pie pumpkin and steam or boil it. Scrape out meat and puree it with a stick blender. Notice that it seems like more than you need; ignore this for now. Add 3 eggs. Open a large can of coconut milk (about 13 ounces?) and pour in about half; drink some cause it’s so delicious. Pour in some raw honey, taste, and wonder why its not sweet. Pour in some more, stir well, and realize that its actually very sweet, you just didn’t stir well enough the first time; worry that it’s too sweet.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put in crust to bake for 15 minutes. Suddenly remember that you forgot the spices. Grind up half a dozen cloves and 1/4 tsp ginger root. Add that plus 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the filling. Grate some fresh nutmeg into the filling. Drop the nutmeg in by accident; panic; fish it out, dry it off, and grate some more. Taste filling and realize it’s a bit heavy on cloves. Wonder to yourself how to balance out the flavor; figure that no one has ever complained about too much cinnamon, so toss in another 1/2 tsp. Taste it, decide it’s okay right as the crust is done.
Notice that the crust has deformed; hastily redistribute it with a spoon. Pour in filling until it almost overflows. Worry that the filling is too runny and won’t set well; wonder to yourself what you’ll do with the rest of it. Get your husband to put the pie into the oven because the pan is so full, you’re afraid you’ll spill it. Wait anxiously for an hour.
Pull out pie to find (to your great relief) that the filling has set beautifully. Find the flavor to be perfect and the crust to be delicious, if not very pretty. Receive compliments, bask in glory and relief.
Anyway, as you can tell, baking is not my strong suit. It really doesn’t have a big role in Asian cooking. (When I was growing up, my mother used our oven for storage space.) But over this holiday season, I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the distinctive taste of oven-roasted foods — and an awareness of how bad I am at baking. So I ordered a convection oven so that I can get more practice:
At under $100, it’s a pretty casual unit. But it’s gotten good reviews and I imagine it will be perfect for a small household like ours. It also comes with a rotisserie, which makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
I also ordered some miniature cast iron skillets. (Aren’t they adorable? I almost ordered the 3.5 inch too, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I would do with it.) I got that idea from a local restuarant (El Centro) that serves their upside-down pineapple pies in small skillets.
Speaking of restuarants, the three I miss the most in Boulder are (drumroll please …):
- Cracker Barrel
- Some country buffet, any country buffet
Guess you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. :)
At least we have a Cheescake Factory. :)