Monday, December 2, 2013

Home-grown pie

I've been sick all week (more about that in later entries), so today's post will just be a quickie to tell you about our experiment with this year's Thanksgiving pies. Brian and I always bring the sugar to my family's Thanksgiving dinner: a big batch of cranberry sauce and two pies, one apple and one pumpkin. (This has the side effect of ensuring that all the sugar in the meal is organic, so it's less damaging to the planet, even if it's just as fattening.) But this year, we had such a bumper crop of rhubarb that Brian thought maybe we should substitute a rhubarb pie for the traditional apple. And then it occurred to him that, while we were at it, maybe we could use our home-grown butternut squash in place of the pumpkin in the other pie. I'd already seen recipes that talked about substituting other winter squashes for pumpkin, so it seemed like a reasonable idea.

We actually had about a pint of squash in the freezer, left over from the monster that we ate to celebrate the Festival of Butternut, so we didn't have to cut open any of the ones we harvested more recently. A little quick calculation showed that the amount we had stored was roughly equivalent in volume to a 15-ounce can of pumpkin, so we didn't have to adjust our recipe at all. The squash was slightly more difficult to work with, because it was a bit lumpier, but it mixed with the other ingredients just like the canned pumpkin we're used to. Once baked, it looked slightly puffier and lighter in color than our usual pumpkin pie, but still quite appetizing.

I didn't get any pictures of the two finished pies, unfortunately, but they weren't actually as impressive as they usually are. Brian was also a bit under the weather, so he decided he didn't have the energy to top the rhubarb pie with his trademark woven lattice crust, which always impresses the punters. But it turns out that a basic double-crust pie, when made by hand with real butter, gets no complaints about either its looks or its flavor. In fact, even my gluten-averse and health-centric aunt decided that Brian's piecrust was worth cheating on her usual diet for. Everyone who sampled the squash pie said that it tasted just like pumpkin, and no one had any problems with the substitution of rhubarb for apple, either. So it sounds like our established role for future Thanksgivings may involve not only baking the pies, but also growing the ingredients for them.
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