This post was hard to write. I don’t really have any idea how to encapsulate all the things I’m feeling. Just know that readers, family, everybody….I love you and I’m glad you’re in my life. And since today is all we are sure of, today especially, you are important to me.
Right now, I am sitting on my couch, with two people that I love very much. They are playing a video game called ‘Splosion Man, and laughing like lunatics. The windows are open, the fan is on.
I will be making Mikey Perillo’s favorite PeanutButter Pie tonight, for these guys that I love. And we’ll share it, and we’ll probably eat it all. A friend has instituted “family dinner”, where her friend family gets together and makes/eats dinner together at a scheduled time. The inaugural event will be at our house on Monday, and I will probably make another one for us to share then.
Mike Perillo, father, husband, and friend, died last Sunday suddenly, shockingly and heartbreakingly. Jennie lost her husband. Their two beautiful daughters lost their father. Judging by the crowd of people at the memorial service, I can only assume that hundreds of people lost a dear, good friend. I never met Mikey, and the first time I saw Jennie in person was yesterday morning, at the memorial. But she said “Josie” with such joy when I told her who I was, and hugged me like a friend. There was love everywhere yesterday, and support, and smiles, and food and, as Jennie memorably announced, “Eat up! And there are 10 different kinds of wine!”
Food can heal. And it can celebrate. And it can bring people together, which is what we’ve all been talking about for as long as there have been bloggers.
Maybe the most affecting part about the hundreds and hundreds of people who answered Jennie’s request and made Mikey’s favorite peanut butter pie and wrote about it (check it out on Food Network, Food52 and Facebook) is that people are taking this time to remember how precious life is, and share this pie and the words and feelings that come with it. Every single post that I read talks about making today special, and spreading the love and making sure that the people you love the most are aware of your love.
Photo from Barbara of Creative Culinary's lovely post.
My pie will probably have some tears stirred in. And it might get a little misty when I serve it, even if I don’t or can’t tell people why. But salted peanuts are the best. And nobody minds a weepy baker if the result is something like this:
I love you. I am happy to know you. I am blessed and lucky that you are in my life. All of you.
Have a slice of pie.
2011 has been a rough year.
A very rough year.
Looking back on a month that I *hoped* would bring good things, and started with such promise and success, I have to say that July …. you’re in the doghouse. You sucked too.
I lost my job this month.
So, instead of writing about anything that I’m cooking, or making, or whatever, I’m going to post pictures of the food I made for 4th of July weekend. The things that I made when it felt like everything good was on the horizon and nothing bad would happen.
I had recently learned that you could fry your own tortilla shells, and have now resolved to not eat soft tacos all that much. I tried to make puffy tacos from a respected recipe (I won’t link it until I nail it, I don’t want to embarrass myself) and that tanked on July 3rd, so I fried my small flour tortillas, and stuffed them with seared tuna, shredded lettuce, tomato, and an avocado-parsley-jalapeno crema. And they. were. awesome.
Back in July, Shauna, the amazing Gluten-Free Girl, held a pie party on Facebook. And I decided to jump in. Blueberries were the only thing on my mind in early July, so on the 3rd of July, I made a blueberry pie. And it was awesome. And I’m amazed. I’ve had problems with blueberry-based pies, being too runny, being messy, not tasting right. But this one was fantastic.
For dinner on the 4th of July, I made fried chicken, and potato salad. I made the mayonnaise for the potato salad. Like, made it from scratch, from egg yolks and vinegar and lemon juice and olive oil and… I was so proud of it. And then I mixed the mayo with the potatoes and learned a fundamental issue: Your homemade mayonnaise will run all over the place, if your potatoes are too hot when you mix them. Which…. mine were. But oh well. It was delicious, and I mixed some of the dill we got from our CSA into it, and I will definitely be making mayonnaise again. For sure.
And then for dinner, we had this. The last slices of pie, with peach-pie ice cream that I made myself.
They were good times. It was a good weekend. And I need to remind myself of that, when things get hard and jobs are scarce and frankly, I’m getting a little afraid. I can be strong, and brave. I can get through this, and there will be pie. And fried chicken. And many other things. Good things. Again.
There are some things that are synonymous with Thanksgiving, with the holidays. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Squash. We’ll get to all of these except the turkey as we help our dear friend Bakezilla work her way through her first Thanksgiving dinner, as well as sharing stories adn tales about our own personal holiday faves.
A big one for me at the holidays has always been Pumpkin Pie. I went through a phase where it was my favorite thing ever. I’ve kind of cooled on it lately, which is odd given my recent love affair with most things pumpkin. I’m more into combining pumpkin with muffins, or brownies, or jello shots.
However, my friend and all around awesome lady, Jackie, brought me back to pumpkin pie. She has an allergy to cinnamon, which means that her fave dessert has the chance to put her into anaphylactic shock. This is not a cool thing, as you might imagine, because I love Jackie and do not want her to die from dessert. She asked the Pretty Girls via Twitter to try and hack pumpkin pie to produce something she could consume. I promised to try.
A couple days later, while washing the dishes, my mind wandered away from the crusted on remains I was scraping off my casserole dish, and suddenly, I had it. Cumin, and Cayenne, would provide the heat and spice that cinnamon give. Nutmeg and Cardamom would provide warmth and spiciness.
I had it. And I had to immediately try my theory. I abandoned the dishes and immediately ran to the store to buy pumpkin and evaporated milk.
Pumpkin Pie for Jackie
Preheat oven to 425.
Roll out your pie shells and place into your pie plate. If making 1 pie, make it a deep-dish pie plate.
Combine 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar in a bowl. Reserve.
Beat 2 eggs in a large bowl. Add in 1 can of pumpkin puree and the sugar-and-spice mixture. Once this is combined, add in 1 can of evaporated milk.
Pour the filling into the pie shell, thump it on the counter a fe times to get rid of the air bubbles, and put it in the oven. I baked my 4 mini pies and 1 mini springform for 15 minutes at 425, then reduced the heat to 350, and baked them for 35 minutes. For a larger pie, make it 45 minutes at 350.
This pie was 2-boy-approved: Jesse and our friend Steele both decided it was pretty darn good. While you notice the lack of cinnamon, I certainly didn’t miss it. The spices work brilliantly with the pumpkin, creating a general feeling of warmth, and the cayenne provides a nice slow burn at the end.
In fact, you could probably use coconut milk instead of evaporated milk, if you’re lactose intolerant.
But in the end, the best part is that Jackie can have her fave again, without anaphylactic shock. And that’s a win.