Thursday, November 13, 2008


I love this time of year when the concept of home seems especially appealing. I'm grateful to have a home and I'm grateful that everyone within my sphere of activity also has a home.

When the temperature begins to fall, Mike and I plan our baking so that we put heat into the house when we need it. What was unthinkable in the heat of summer becomes a delightful sensory experience in fall and winter. And now we find information everywhere to help us prepare our Thanksgiving dinners. I look at some of those – then proceed to do what I have always done.

Yesterday I read articles in the Lewiston Tribune about pumpkin pie. Of course, you know you can find the standard recipe for pumpkin custard pie in your general cookbook or on the label for canned pumpkin or evaporated milk. But the article in the Trib proposed three whole eggs and an extra yolk and real heavy cream. The author insisted that I grate my own fresh spices instead of using those in my cupboard, and she also baked the crust in advance. Who does that?

Mike used to poke fun at my "impossible" pumpkin pie. "It's fine, but I like pumpkin pie with crust," he would say. But a few years ago when cutting the fat from our diet became important to him, my crustless pies looked a lot better to him. I use low-fat Bisquick, egg substitute, fat-free evaporated milk, and spices on hand. I even cut back on the sugar. "We don't have to drown out other flavors with sugar," I now say.

Last year I took an impossible pumpkin pie to the Thanksgiving dinner reunion. I thought with so many watching their diet, my skinny pie would be appreciated. No one even tried it. It just goes to show that on some occasions – like Thanksgiving Day – we like the traditional food in its traditional format no matter what. But Mike and I enjoyed the impossible pie I made last night and I will make it often throughout the season. I like to bake with pumpkin.

Tell me – do you rotate your spices? Do you throw them out after six months on the shelf and buy new? Do you sniff them for freshness? Do you grate your own from the fresh product? What about soda and baking powder? Do you believe they lose their potency? KW


Hallie said...

I don't throw anything away, usually. It's okay because I prefer bland foods--I could almost get by with just salt and pepper.

I DID recently throw away some cooking spray that I bought in Great Falls. If you're keeping track, that cooking spray was a good 3.5 years old.

chris miller said...

I don't throw anything away, either, and no one has died from eating at my house. I like a saying I saw that said, "Many people have eaten my cooking and gone on to lead normal lives." :-)

I read that pumpkin pie article. Hope the "perpetrator" of that pie recipe reenters the real world soon!! Boy, there was so much work to that that I'd only let people eat 1/2" at a time over a looong period of time if I made it!!

Joanne Walrath said...

I don't throw anything away either. Perhaps baking powder loses some of its potency, but not much. I just increase the amount in the recipe if that is the case. I use a good strong brand to begin with-- "Rumford" brand. Spices do lose their potency, but I don't throw mine away unless they are years old. Again, I just increase the quantity I use if they are a little less potent.

Kathy said...

I'm glad to know I'm not out of step with other spice users. I know my mother didn't toss them out, but I'm reasonably certain I work through them faster than she did because I bake a lot of spicy pies and quick breads. I like the idea of using extra spices or baking powder, too. Oil-based products do have to be watched, though, because they turn rancid. Thanks -- all of you -- for sharing your thoughts. KW