• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Holidays Part 1: Eating Turkey and Comparing Pies

Black Friday--a day full of crazy shoppers, napping, eating leftovers, and reflection. I ventured to the mall around 8:30 a.m. I shopped, napped, and ate leftovers, as you should do if you have the freedom of the holiday. After the festivities of Turkey Day, I deserved the extra sleep and eating--the time for reflection.

Preparation for Thanksgiving began on Wednesday. I worked at the coffee shop in the morning and Sarah (she's frequently a guest star on this blog) picked me up around 12:30 p.m. We grabbed a few ingredients we were missing, stopped at Chipotle, then headed to her house to begin the baking process.

We had decided to make three pies--an apple, a pumpkin made with canned pumpkin, and a pumpkin made with fresh pumpkin--and an insane amount of dinner rolls. The first thing on our baking to-do list was roast the pumpkin. I found this pie recipe that told me how to roast the pumpkins and make my own puree. I figured Alton Brown couldn't let me down.

While the pumpkins were roasting, Sarah and I mixed the rolls (we quadrupled it because you can never have enough rolls!). The rolls have to rise twice--once as a big bread ball and then again after they've been rolled out. While we waited them to rise, we began making our pie crusts (yes, we even made our own gluten-free, lactose free pie crusts!) We started with the crust for the apple and canned pumpkin pies. Sarah had a crust recipe from a cookbook she wanted to try. I began mixing it all together and exclaimed "Orange juice?!" while reading the recipe. There is orange juice in the crust. I kept muttering this to myself as I made two crusts, wondering what flavor this would add.

Pro tip from Sarah: grate the butter.

It's easier to combine it into the crust this way.

Already these pie crusts looked more delicious than the pie crust I made a few weeks ago. Sarah taught me how to transfer the crust to the pie plate and crimp the edges. Her edges definitely looked better than mine.

After the crusts were ready to be baked, we rolled the rolls so they could rise again. At this point, we were getting a little slap happy.

We began mixing the pie fillings and baking the crusts. All of our pies are lactose free. To make this possible, Sarah made "half and half" out of cashews and taught me how to evaporate almond milk (I had no idea it was that easy. Just don't let it boil over, which we did...once).

As the pies baked, I wanted them all. The apple pie was demanding to be eaten with a cup of coffee. I couldn't believe I would have to wait until the next day to eat these delectable desserts.

It was around 11 p.m. when we were finally ready to wake up the rolls. Sarah gave me a tarot reading while they baked, and about 40 minutes later, we were finally done.

I was ready to collapse. Sarah finished my reading and drove me home. I brushed my teeth, made sure my alarm was set, and hit the hay (I had to work at 5 a.m.). After work, I took a 15 minute power nap, showered, made sure the camera was charged, and headed to Jesse's. We carpooled to Sarah's and were punctual, of course. We helped set up for the arrival of the rest of the food and I drank some wine (I essentially just stood there, arranging food and drinking, but hey, someone's gotta do it). People began to trickle in, bringing main dishes and sides.

Our spread was quite impressive:

2 turkeys, a ham, a veggie casserole, stuffing,

yams, rolls, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy,

and 4 pies (a guest brought another pumpkin).

I couldn't wait to dig in. It wasn't until last year that I had both turkey and ham on Thanksgiving. In my opinion, this is the best of both worlds! I took photos while everyone else got their food, then lost the camera and hopped in line. I couldn't wait any longer.

I couldn't fit everything on my plate,

so of course I went up more than once.

I let my savory food digest for a bit--it was probably no longer than half an hour--then made coffee. I am currently drinking Peet's Holiday Blend and brought some for Sarah and Wes. I made a press pot and offered it to those who hadn't gone on an after dinner walk. Although this probably allowed them to eat more pie in the end, I was not missing the chance to be the first person in the pie line.

With coffee in hand, I attacked the pies. I cut myself a slice of two of the pumpkins and the apple, deciding to save the third pumpkin for round two.

Each pie was enjoyable for a different reason. The canned pumpkin was familiar. Its spices were what you expect in a pumpkin pie and it was smooth. The pie crust was superb (orange juice in the crust for the win). The real pumpkin pie was more savory. The salt was a nice balance to the ginger cookie crust and the filling tasted a bit squash-like. The apple was my favorite by far. With a crumble topping and the new gf crust, I couldn't have asked for a better apple pie.

I went back for pie seconds and found the pies were being enjoyed.

Everyone made sure to take a slice of the apple and at least one of the three pumpkin.

I sipped my coffee and began talking about the pies. Several eaters thought the real pumpkin pie was tasty. The balance of sweet and savory was what they enjoyed. I liked all of the pies, but couldn't stop raving about the apple until just now. Eating leftovers while blogging about Thanksgiving is a requirement. I cut myself a piece of real pumpkin as I began typing. When there is not apple pie to compare it to, the real pumpkin is everything I could want in a pie. I'm glad I took the leftovers home.

There was a lot of baking and eating in the last 48 hours. Holidays can be stressful. I pick up more shifts at the coffee shop, spend more time baking (which I enjoy), and a lot of time planning, but after the planning is over, sharing baked goods with friends makes the stress of planning worth it. Wednesday and Thursday I felt the warmth of baking with a friend and spending the holiday with her family and friends. Even though I don't go home for Thanksgiving, I am never without a home.

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