• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Thanks and Pies: The Way of a Good Holiday

It's easy to hit snooze when the alarm goes off, get ready, drive to work, work a 9-6 (sometimes 9-7), make dinner, go to bed, and wake up the next day to do it all over again.

Sometimes it's hard to remember to enjoy yourself; enjoy your friends; enjoy food. Thanksgiving is a time to remember these things.

This was my fourth Thanksgiving with Sarah, Wes, and their family. Last year, though the baking and holiday were fun, I was a bit stressed. Both Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving I worked at 5 a.m. and drove to Sarah's, coffee coated. We spent hours baking and on Thanksgiving, I enjoyed the food and the relaxation after work, but sheer exhaustion accompanied my food coma. This year, I was fortunate enough to get out of work on Thanksgiving eve at noon and have the holiday off. I headed to Mead and Sarah and I spent the afternoon (all day, really) baking.

Three pies and a large batch of stuffing were ready for the festivities. Last year, Sarah and I made two pumpkin pies and an apple pie. It's becoming tradition to make three gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and coconut-free pies, including crust, every year. This year we opted for one pumpkin, a pecan, and an apple. The pecan and apple had a basic gluten-free pie crust from one of Sarah's cookbooks. I've never made glutenous pie crust, but this crust is easy to work with and ridiculously tasty. The pumpkin pie had a gingerbread cookie crust (with homemade cookies, of course). I made the cookies twice–one fail left me cookieless. Monday night I made grain-free ginger cookies. The batter was tasty, but the vegan butter and the altitude were too much for these little spiced gems to handle. Burnt, lace-like blobs filled my cookie sheet.

The recipe wasn't bad. Sometimes, this just happens.

Tuesday night I attempted gingerbread cookie number two. I turned to Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking. A recipe for gingerbread men became gingerbread squirrels.

I should've used this recipe to begin with. I frequently rave about the recipes in Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking, and they are rave-worthy. Though some of the squirrels were puffy and unrecognizable as the furry critter, they were soft, full of ginger and molasses, and easily manipulated into a pie crust. Though the majority were pulverized for the crust, Sarah, Wes, and I ate the leftover squirrels with our morning coffee.

Thanksgiving morning, we made a quadruple batch of rolls. You can never have enough rolls! The house was warm as the other guests arrived with two turkeys, sides, and more desserts. I snapped photos of food, anticipating the multiple plates of turkey I would consume.

Not ten minutes after my first plate of turkey, I was ready for pie.

Cranberry molds, apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie,

waiting to be devoured.

I took a slice of each. When asked which was my favorite, I could not choose; each pie was phenomenal in its own way. The apple represented the stereotypical apple pie. If I could eat ice-cream, a huge dollop of vanilla on top of a warm slice would be heaven. The pumpkin was completely consumed. The gingerbread cookie crust and homemade pumpkin puree were definite wins. The pecan pie was perfect. A solid crust-to-pie ratio, it was just the right amount of sweetness. Although I couldn't choose a favorite taste wise, the pumpkin wins out of sheer enjoyment. There's just something special about making homemade pumpkin puree that elevates the entire pie for me.

As I was leaving Sarah's, she realized I didn't have any leftovers. How could I leave Thanksgiving without any rolls and turkey to make tiny turkey sandwiches on? What was I thinking?! I filled bags and tupperware with the goods and headed home. The best leftover? Extra pumpkin puree! I thought about making another pie, but went savory instead.

Maple bacon pumpkin risotto for the win (recipe curtesy of Pineapple and Coconut)!

Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

4 thick slices bacon, diced

2 cups apple cider or juice (not spiced)

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine (I used Back Box's pinot)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2-1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree

2 Tbsp maple syrup

Italian flat leaf parsley and grate parm for garnish

In a medium saucepan, combine the stock and apple cider over low heat. Let it hang out.

In a stock pot or huge sauté pan, cook the bacon until crispy, about 10 minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel, leaving 2 Tbsp of the bacon fat in the pan.

Cook the onions in the bacon fat until caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and nutmeg.

Add in the rice and wine and stir until the wine is cooked down.

Turn up the heat on the stock to medium.

Gradually add 1/2 cup of stock to the rice, stirring until the stock has been absorbed.

Repeat until all the stock is gone.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Mix in the pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Add more pumpkin puree if you feel like it. More is better.

Mix in the bacon.

Serve it up and top your risotto with some parsley and parm if you so choose.

My fridge is filled with leftovers and new dishes incorporating leftovers. With each meal, I am thankful for my friends, family, and all of you unknown readers out there. Enjoy your leftovers and have an extra helping for me.

For more fun holiday photos, head over to the Type & Cakes Facebook page!

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