Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanksgiving in the Lab

Since we kids "got all growed up", as my grandmother used to say, Thanksgiving has become a potluck affair for our family. Sign-up begins three weeks in advance, and if you want to be the one who brings rolls, plastic silverware, and paper plates you have to act fast.

Most of the time that's reserved for the person who's currently single, unemployed, or traveling more than 10 hours.

It always works out pretty well, and there is never any shortage of food. It also gives everyone a chance to expand their culinary skills and take new items for a taste test using human guinea pigs. Fortunately, no guinea pigs, human or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this year's dinner.

My sister cooked her first turkey. Joel made a green bean, kidney, and bacon dish. My brother tried his hand at baking a ham. One of the cousins brought corn spoon-bread. An aunt brought parsnips...

What the hell is a parsnip?

These are parsnips, or as I like to call them, naked carrots.

I signed up two items I'd never made before, creamed spinach and a pumpkin pie. The creamed spinach wasn't too difficult, except I made it from fresh spinach so it took eight pounds to get a decent amount once it wilted.

The pie... I know you're thinking pumpkin pie is easy. Crust, can of pumpkin glop, 30 minutes in the oven, and you're done. But NO, there would be no canned pie glop consumed by MY family this Thanksgiving. I was determined to make a pumpkin pie from scratch. From an actual pumpkin. You know, that thing you carve jack o'lanterns out of.

Lab Notes: The first thing you should know is that you have to get a special kind of pumpkin. You can't use just any big, orange squash. You definitely CANNOT use the same kind of pumpkin that you use for fall porch decor or Halloween carving. You have to use a PIE pumpkin to make pie.


After you get the expensive ($3.99/ lbs) little sucker home, you cut it up in chunks, gut it (remove all seeds and gross, orange, slimy string stuff), and bake it in the oven until it gets soft and practically slides right out of the skin into the bowl. Add about $50 worth of spices that you have to go out and buy (because who keeps ground cloves lying around?), evaporated milk, sugar, and eggs. Hit it with a immersion blender until you have...


Lab Notes: "Huh. I wonder if it's supposed to look like that? Maybe I left something out. Like flour. Hmmmm... (consults recipe) Nope. It's all here. Maybe it will thicken up if I blend it some more."

*10 minutes of splattering copious amount of liquefied pumpkin all over the kitchen*

"Nope. Still soup. Oh well. *Shrug* Might as well go ahead and see what we get."

Funnel the pumpkin soup into the prepared pie crust, bake, and miracle of Great Pumpkin miracles you get...


Pretty darn good pie, too, if I may say so myself. It was much lighter and fluffier than you get when you use pumpkin out of a can. Even the people in my family who don't like pumpkin enjoyed it. So much so, that there wasn't any leftover to take home.

The downside is that it probably costs about $10 a slice.


  1. This christmas I'm going to roast my first turkey. Mum's bringing it over and directing me, so I'll just have to have beer on tap to help me with it.

  2. That sounds delicious Holly! You amaze me with your culinary skills!

  3. You can actually use your jack-o-lantern. If you cut it up and steam the pieces before they go mouldy. (Actually, I just cut the mould off.)