Sans Meal Plan: Lions and Tigers and Bears—and Pie!

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It’s that time of year again—the season when it’s socially acceptable to drink cider and chai and hot chocolate (!) at least once a day.  Scarfs and boots are once again the accessories of choice, and students prefer sitting inside at a coffee shop to reading lounging outside on the Main Green.  Now is as good a time as any to start taking advantage of the plentitude of winter vegetables available, well, everywhere.  Activities revolving around pumpkins and squashes are fun and cheap ways to decorate your home and cook for the masses.  Literally every part of the pumpkin has a different use and can be taken advantage of for optimal seasonal shenanigans.

Almost as soon as pumpkins started making their way into markets, my roommates and I started decorating.  Most likely, we wanted an excuse to roast pumpkin seeds because they’re so damn delicious, so if we had to spend an afternoon carving pumpkins to make the effort worthwhile, it was a necessary step we were willing to take.  Pumpkins are relatively cheap commodities this time of year, especially the tiny ones sold exclusively for decorating.  If getting to a grocery store is difficult for you, GET UP NOW AND GO to the final farmers market on Wriston Field and take advantage of its closeness while it lasts!  They have a number of gourds and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes for your painting and eating pleasure.

Though most members of the squash family are ideal for eating (I argue that anything that can be covered in butter and brown sugar or maple syrup is worth our attention), the pumpkins used for pie are NOT the pumpkins used for painting and throwing in streets responsibly disposing of in the proper receptacle.  My apartment made use of the decorative pumpkins available everywhere as soon as we saw them in stores and it was considered socially acceptable to have them on our porch (hey—October 1 is still October!), but it was not until this week that I decided to make some good ole American pumpkin pie.  Unfortunately, one cannot use the guts from a carved pumpkin for roasting; an entire pumpkin must be roasted and then the skins discarded later. Although I really wanted to make a true pumpkin pie from scratch, I did not have the time to roast a pumpkin amidst midterms.  Alas, I decided to use Libby’s 100% canned pumpkin (NOT, I repeat NOT pumpkin pie filling) as my base.  But, I made everything else entirely from scratch, I swear!  And so can you: it’s really simple and requires the most basic ingredients or things you can easily run to Tedeschi for.  Ready to make some pie?  Let’s do itttttt.

First, you need to make your dough.  This must be done ahead of time and sit in the refrigerator—at least an hour or two, but ideally overnight.  I made my dough right before I went to bed and threw it in the fridge overnight while I slept and went to class the next day.  There are many different types of pie dough to be had, and graham cracker crust is always a popular choice for pumpkin pie.  However, thanks to my semester abroad in France, I decided to go with an all-butter crust (cue tears of pure joy) because, well, why not?  You will need flour, butter, and mere pinches of sugar and salt.  That is all.  For a great tutorial of preparing and rolling out pie dough, click here.

After your dough has sat for at least an hour, begin preparing the filling.  After much research and review reading, I ended up using the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can, also found on the Libby’s website.  There are a ton of recipes around that call for various amounts of milk or half-and-half, even some that use only heavy cream.  I decided to trust Libby and use evaporated milk and I could not be more pleased!  I even converted a pumpkin pie hater into a believer, so I think the evaporated milk was a good decision.  The filling will require a can of pure pumpkin, a couple of eggs, a can of evaporated milk, sugar, and some Autumn-y spices–you know the ones (cue more tears of pure joy).

Then, I rolled out my pie dough (you’ll notice in the photos that I did not have a rolling pin and instead used a bottle of wine… don’t judge, it works just fine!) to about 12 inches and placed it in my pie pan. I tucked the excess dough under and made cute ridges with my fingers so it would look like the Sara Lee pie that we all know and love.  After pouring my filling into my crust (it will be verrrrry liquidy, but no worries, it will set as it bakes), I popped the pie into a 425° oven for 15 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350° for another 45-50 minutes.  When a knife comes out clean, the pie is done.  Look at that, you homemaker you!  For very little time and less money than you would spend on a frozen pie, you just impressed yourself and your friends with the fruits of your labor.  Your friends will all think you’re much cooler now that you’ve made something they’ve only thought to unfreeze.

Helpful Halloweekend tip: word on the street is that homemade pumpkin pie is the best shot-chaser around–just saying…

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