Friday, November 25, 2011


I think maybe I need a camera. And then I think I bet I can have Mom's old camera. Dad won't care.

And I know I need a new electric mixer. Then I think I'm sure I can have Mom's, Dad's not going to be using it.

And maybe I ought to try to get Photoshop, so that I can get serious about my book cover design? But maybe Dad will let me have Mom's software.

I can't decide whether it's good to know that my needs can be met so easily or just sad.

But I didn't  intend to write about that. I don't want to be bleak, just to save some notes for next year.

(That said, in a way, the day was just as bad as I expected it to be, although not in the way I imagined ahead of time. K had to work, and I just didn't want to try to deal with making a noon-time Thanksgiving meal. It was too much like a chore, too hard to do, too likely to make the end of the day be a long quiet lonely stretch. I didn't want to get up at 6 to start cooking. So although I felt bad that she couldn't there, I made a plan that worked for me, with dinner at 5. Only then her best friend died unexpectedly the day before. We don't know how yet: the optimistic vote is that it was a heart attack in her sleep; the pessimistic, that it was an asthma attack and she was unable to call for help. But it doesn't really matter, except that it turned an already rocky day -- Mom's birthday -- into something rocky in an entirely different way.)

Back to the food -- so much more fun to think about -- I made a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, roasted sweet potato rounds topped with celery salsa, and it was yummy, yummy, yummy. None of the kids would even try the salsa, but they all liked the sweet potatoes, I think. I also made brussels sprouts with maple syrup and chestnuts, which added a nice flavor to the table, but wasn't nearly as good as it should have been. And the cranberry sauce this year was orange juice flavored with cinnamon and allspice, and it was delicious. It's really tough to go wrong with cranberry sauce, in my opinion, although the one I made with Pinot Noir and blueberries last year was not my favorite.

Oh, but my real motivation for posting to make some notes for next year on the pumpkin pie. Mom always made really good pumpkin pie but her recipe actually makes no sense, so I'm going to have to experiment for a while to try to figure out what she did. (Her measurements would require actually measuring the ingredients like evaporated milk and pumpkin rather than just dumping a can into the bowl, and there's no way: she was a dump-in-the-can kind of cook. I think she had a basic recipe but she followed it loosely.) So this year, I followed the recipe on the can for the basic ingredients -- pumpkin, eggs, milk -- and then Mom's recipe for the spices. I would say that's probably pretty close to successful, but with a couple of issues. First, I used Mrs. Smith's frozen pie shells and no, they were not as good as whatever Mom used. I am absolutely sure that she used frozen pie shells, but next year I need to try a different brand. Next, my filling feels heavier than hers. I mixed by hand and she always used an electric mixer, so next year, assuming I've stolen her electric mixer or gotten one of my own, I should try it with an electric mixer and see if that gives the filling a fluffier feel. And there's something not quite there about the spices: I added cloves, which was part of her recipe, but I think maybe I needed nutmeg, too. There's a flavor that's just missing slightly. Most important, though, would be to try to get the filling lighter. I might need to switch out some evaporated milk for real milk (her recipe uses both, the can recipe used only evaporated.) That said, I ate two pieces for breakfast this morning, so I'm not really complaining!

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