Monday, November 20, 2006

Obligatory pre-Thanksgiving food post

Yes, I haven't been posting much lately. But I've been making progress on my book, so you can't make me feel guilty about substandard blogging.

I just reviewed the week's lunch menu with Ben, so he could choose which day he wanted to bring a lunch rather than buy hot lunch at the cafeteria. Wednesday, he's excited about hot lunch. Why? Salisbury steak. He exulted in Salisbury steak. He is jubilant at the prospect of eating Salisbury steak. Who can explain this?

Ben's little-man armpits occasionally stink a bit. I think it smells like...armpits. Ben? He has pronounced his armpit stank to be redolent of a burrito. Which begs the question: What the hell kind of burritos are they serving at the school cafeteria?

We'll be traveling up north (but not too far north) for Thanksgiving, to Mr. Tangerine's folks'. I'm going to make pecan pie. Two pies, actually—my mother-in-law requested two rather than one, "so we can have pie for breakfast." I like the way she thinks. I'm planning to make the pie crust from scratch for my very first time, breaking out the virginal rolling pin that has so far served only as a toy. I don't eat lard, and it's so hard to find a frozen crust made with vegetable shortening, plus...shortening? Eww. I don't like the concept. (Yes, I know most store-bought cookies and crackers and so forth are made with shortening, essentially. But I don't like to think about it.) So it was with keen interest that I read an NYT article this week about testing different fats in pie crust. The winner was apparently a combo involving duck fat (!), but an all-butter crust was a definite contender. And I love butter. So I borrowed a recipe from anarchist and pastry chef Emma Goldman, and we'll see if I can actually make a good pie crust. I just bought one of those U-shaped dough cutter gizmos (for cutting the butter into the flour) and some pie pans, so there'll be a lot of virginal baking tools popping their cherry this week.

The pies themselves will be basically my dad's modification of the pecan pie recipe from the Karo corn syrup bottle—only with a skosh more butter and triple the pecans. Because who wants corn syrup pie with a few wan little nuts suspended on top? I know that's how most people think of pecan pie, but we like it when the sweet goop is invaded by crunchy pecans. Num, num, num.

Ooh! If you have a Trader Joe's store near you, try the house brand of chocolate bar. The 500-g bar (that's more than a pound!) of bittersweet chocolate (48% cocoa solids—I thought I liked dark, dark chocolate, but I think bittersweet is the cusp beyond which I don't want to eat chocolate. Semisweet, bittersweet, good good good. Something with 72% cocoa solids? Meh. Yeah, so on Wednesday, I bought a giant bar of bittersweet chocolate with almonds. There are only 2 or 3 oz. left—but I assure you, I haven't eaten it all myself. Probably a 45/45/10 split among me/Mr. Tangerine/Ben. I just might make a habit of buying these jumbo candy bars. There's all that scientific evidence of salutary health benefits from various compounds in chocolate, right?

Damn. Now I'm thinking that maybe I should make one plain pecan pie and one chocolate pecan pie. I could buy a bar of, say, semisweet chocolate, melt it down, stir it in. What do you think? Do you think that if I'm not driving to your house with this pie, you couldn't care less whether the triple-thick pecan pie is laced with chocolate goodness? Ah, but there's something so reassuring and classic about pecan pie without chocolate, and it's certainly rich enough without the chocolate. Maybe I'll just nibble on the chocolate while making pecan pie—is that a sensible solution?

17 comments:

Dharma said...

Good solution, nibbling while baking. But you got me thinking, dark chocolate and pecans in a crust. Yum.

Sean Carter said...

I just love pies and they are a very importatnt part of the Thanksgiving feast...hey also do check out my Thanksgiving Blog sometime for some more interesting stuff and useful resources....have a great Thanksgiving!!!!

Ken/Cazique said...

chocolate pecan pie is highly advised.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Plain pecan pie is good enough for me. And yes, please eat chocolate while you cook, it's your reward!

Our kids are ecstatic because Wednesday's lunch is Thanksgiving lunch with all the trimmings, and then Thursday is the Big Thanksgiving dinner at home, and some time over the weekend will be Thanksgiving at the grandparents. I hope they don't hate turkey by the time all's said and done.

Sergei said...

We saw your movie this weekend! Very cool.

Maggie said...

I just want to say two things:

Pie for breakfast = genius!

Where is it that your in laws live? I could drop by for a bite of each pie and then tell you the verdict on the chocolate...couldn't I?

Emma Goldman said...

Do you par-bake the pie crusts? If so, I'd melt the chocolate and put it on the baked crust before putting in the filling, which would also keep the crust from getting soggy (the chocolate acts as a barrier between the moisture in the filling and the crust). If you don't par-bake the crusts, then I'd chop up the chocolate into smallish pieces and stir it into the goop--not melt it into the goop, though. Little nuggets of chocolate would thus remain, to surprise and delight the eater of said pie.

tuna said...

I've got a yummy recipie for chocolate pecan pie. I'll dig it up for you, if you like.

Mignon said...

Pecan pie: spit spit gag.
Chocolate pecan pie: orgasm.

Rayne of Terror said...

I say Chocolate Pecan Pie is definately a breakfast dish to be paired with a strong brew. I'd love to hear the results.

Orange said...

I dunno, I'm kinda feeling purist about my pecan pie. Chocolate may be overkill.

That's if I'm even making pie at all—my grandmother (who's 94) is thinking about dying this week, which could put a crimp in Thanksgiving plans. Spent 11 hours at the nursing home today, and she's got a hospice volunteer staying with her overnight so she won't be alone.

JT said...

Orange, what's with the grandmas this month? I hope your grandma hangs on, but only if she's not in pain. I think mine was ready to go. The thing that was amazing was that she had a last burst of old energy; she spoke plainly and her memory had returned. It seemed she hung in there until my mom made it in from Chicago, and then she peacefully took her last breath with all three of her grown children holding each others' hands around her bed.

As sad and hard as it is to lose a loved one, we can all only hope that our lights go out softly, as a candle late in the evening.

We're around, so call if you need anything. And if you do get to bake, I'd try one with chocolate (using Emma's advice above, which looks uber-professional). I don't think chocolate ever hurt anybody, unless they were a dog.

Kelly said...

ok, lady--You'll eat Karo syrup but not crisco (100%) vegetable shortening?

That que malo, as I was going to share with you a lovely pie crust recipe (read: easy) from my grams.

That being whined, I suggest the chocolate-pecan yumminess as one pie, and a fruit-pie for breakfast (better than poptarts, imho) like pumpkin, apple, or blueberry.

have a fun one--with a mom-in-law that rox, apparently.

tuna said...

I'm with you, Orange. I prefer my pecan pie without the chocolate. (Nyah, Mignon!) But Mrs. Tuna likes the chocolate, so sometimes we compromise. When we can be bothered to make pie at all, that is.

E. said...

"Skosh"! I thought only my mom said that. Wonder where it originates...

Orange said...

From the Japanese, that's where.

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