Friday, December 2, 2016

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Into the Kitchen

With Thanksgiving behind us, and a whole lot of holidays ahead of us (I mean... really... just google "How many holidays are in December?" and you can find 30+ holidays covering pretty much every continent), there's probably about a 50/50 chance that you'll be travelling.

And, if you're someone who cooks (or bakes) there's an even better chance that you'll be expected to cook (or bake) something while travelling.

Most of the time this means you're taking something that is already done. So you wrap your casserole dish in layers of kitchen towels and put it in the car hoping it doesn't get too cold by the time you get across town. Or you gingerly wrap a layered set of waxed paper, plastic wrap, and foil around your cake so it doesn't crumble by the time you get out of the car six hours later.

Sometimes, though, you're heading somewhere where you'll have enough time - and maybe even enough space - to put something together on the other end of the trip. This is what we did over Thanksgiving.

You see, my parents' house is about six hours away from where Christopher and I live (less if I'm driving alone, more if we're driving with the pup in the car), and since we were driving down on Thursday my parents agreed to do "Thanksgiving dinner" on Friday. Mom was all set to make the main meal, but I volunteered to make the pumpkin pie.

I grew up in my mom's kitchen. And, although a few things have moved since I left home in the late '80s, I still feel pretty much at home when I'm in that kitchen. I know where the bowls are. I know where the measuring spoons are. And I know where the spices used to be. But I've also learned over the past few years that as Mom and Dad have scaled back their cooking, some ingredients haven't been getting restocked. So I had to plan ahead.

I didn't want to try to bake the pie in advance and take it with us (the car was already going to be filled with everything we have to take to keep the pooch safe and happy in their house), so I opted to take almost everything with me.

Canned pumpkin? check. Lard for the crust? check. Spices and sugars? check. The only things I didn't plan to take were the flour (for the crust) and eggs - which I knew they'd have. (Oddly enough, although I had planned to take evaporated milk, I forgot it - luckily there was some in the pantry.)

I won't lie - it felt a little strange just dumping the entire bag of ingredients into the pumpkin without measuring it. But it turned out great (even with a slight hiccup due to the fact that when I thought I was turning off the oven timer I actually turned off the oven, itself). So great, in fact, that I have no photos to share of the finished product.

Gee... It's almost like there could be a whole industry out there of prepared foods and mixes. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of that.

**For the record: The recipe I always use for pumpkin pie is from The Joy of Cooking. It's not overly sweet, and the spices - cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves - really play nicely with the flavor of the pumpkin.

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