Apparently, I have an addiction to altering recipes. I just can’t leave well enough alone. It all starts out innocently enough, but then I feel compelled to add some oil that’s not called for, or a bit of butter, a dash of uninvited ginger/honey/molasses. What harm could a splash of orange juice do? Besides throw off the wet to dry ratio entirely.
Plus I never measure anything. I’ve got ok eyes for quantities, but what with this inexactitude and the compulsive substitution, it means anything I bake is A) a total crap shoot and B) impossible to reproduce if it’s a brilliant success. Sometimes I’d be better off just throwing some flour and eggs in the garbage and saving a bunch of work.
I’ve no idea where I got this. When I was little and learning to bake, I know we were making things where measuring was crucial. Like butterhorns. One doesn’t guess at those. One follows the recipe to the letter. One sifts.
I was canning all the pumpkin pies of the 2010/11 season today- an annual event that I haven’t missed for years and marks the years as clearly as Christmas for me. I can’t believe 12 months have passed already. Last year all the pumpkins were my own, but this year, I got zucchini and squash but no pumpkins out of the garden, even though I had 100% germination from my saved seeds. So I purchased them, happily organic and localish, pretty much from the next town. Chock full of bright flesh and fat seeds and very little air or pulp. I’ve never made such a big bowl of roasted seeds, either.
Pumpkins are awesome. So carvable, delicious sweet or savoury, and so beautifully coloured and carmelizing.
It’s amazing that it can take so long to arrive at 12 glowing glass litres of pumpkin: an entire day. But then, that’s 24 future pies, so time well spent. It’s a good thing that the event itself is pleasant and makes the house all warm and spicy.
My big secret to pumpkin processing day is to cut the pumpkins in half, empty them, and then bake them open face on a cookie sheet until they’re just slightly soft. Then the skin comes off like a ripe pear, and you can chop it like a banana into the pot that you will then put in the hours stirring regularly as it simmers down to the perfect, starchy pulp. Peeling and chopping a raw pumpkin is fairly arduous, I’ve found. Well, one pumpkin would be fine, but six raw pumpkins- another matter.
Between pumpkin tasks, I was baking batch after batch of zucchini muffins (no two alike) that slowly put a small dent in one zucchini – the one that dwarfed the coffeemaker. I was planning this marathon of baking and pumpkin pulping, but didn’t quite plan on having it run over midnight.