Disaster Chef: If I Made A Damn Pumpkin Pie Then You Definitely Can Too

Mom Blogger Pie

As some of you know, I low-key aspire to be a Mom Blogger and frequently exhibit traits of this particular breed of human (besides, you know, having human kids)  Рsometimes ironically, sometimes not.

After spending the years from 2006 to 2013 drinking my weight in malt liquor, missing my alarm in the morning, ignoring my goals, messing around with drugs, encouraging my own body dysmorphia, smoking, willfully participating in shitty relationships, and eating beans out of cans, I DISCOVERED, as it turns out, that I actually need, enjoy, and thrive on the following things:

  • A¬†clean home with some nice items¬†in it
  • Food that doesn’t come¬†from the bodega
  • A full time job with benefits
  • A solid relationship with a person who also has a¬†good¬†job and a very minimal¬†set of issues
  • Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Doing things that are healthy for my spirit, such as ignoring¬†the haters, having a¬†positive body image, focusing on my dreams & using my time wisely.
  • Enjoying substantial quantities of top to second-from-top shelf vodka only one or two days a week.

Now, I am not¬†saying I regret the past, nor am I trying to tell anyone how to live. I am¬†a sex-positive person who respects personal choice and unique lifestyles and bucking the status quo when you feel like it. I’ve definitely made some questionable decisions in the name of exploring myself, my needs, and this crazy-ass world we live in. I encourage anyone to do the same.

That being said,¬†I also feel like much of my early twenties¬†were spent saying to myself “Why am I putting myself in these¬†situations? How do I stop feeling this way? Poor me, and also, I am the worst,” when what I really should have done was break up with whoever-the-fuck, get off the internet, and get a damn job.

I think some people were surprised when I started adjusting my priorities. Maybe it was a letdown, because I wasn’t going out and peeing between parked cars with them every night. But there were a few things motivating me. The first is, I had found a respectful, funny, trustworthy,¬†unaggressive, and down-to-earth man who loved me. And after dating every¬†make and model of loser imaginable, I was not about to¬†fuck that up with bad decisions. The second is that I was getting older, and past a certain age it’s hard to make messy look cute. I’ve talked about this before. I never was the kind of person who could stay out until 4am, still make it to work the next day and NOT want to throw myself out of a ten-story window. I was just like, “I want to be happy and stop feeling guilty all the time for being fucking irresponsible.” So I’ve been working on this for the last year or so.

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The start of every Childless Mom Lifestyle: getting your first pair of Uggs

This is one¬†of the reasons I love being a domestic goddess from time to time. Just like in high school when that girl Rebecca¬†told people she was shocked we got into the same college because she thought I was dumb (don’t think I forgot),¬†I take pleasure in doing things well that are¬†not expected of me, or that I don’t expect of myself. A self-fulfilling prophecy will get you every time. I also like providing nourishment for others and cultivating a comfortable environment for the people I love, having grown to¬†understand the significance of those things in my own life.

So that’s¬†where the pie comes in.

You see, I’ve been in the dating game for about ten years, and¬†out of all twenty of my boyfriends I think maybe three of their moms have actually liked me. It’s just always been this way. I guess I took a couple¬†virginities when I was younger and I was¬†never¬†churchy or blonde, but I wasn’t a bad person, so I don’t know what their damage was specifically. But they sure had damage. In tenth grade one mother actually¬†referred to¬†me as “the spawn of Satan.” I was fifteen – I hadn’t even done anything awesome yet! High school was rough for me.

Given my past experience, when my¬†adorable current boyfriend invited me to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving I was pretty nervous. I’ve never been to a guy’s family home for a major holiday before, and I wanted to make a good impression. A GREAT impression. The kind of impression that makes them happy that I live with their son. I’m not a master chef, but I do have some basic skills and the even the ability to improvise from time to time. Last year around Christmas I brought over a card and some homemade body scrub (which was kind of a flop but they were nice about it) and these Oreo cheesecake cookies I made from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Those were divine (I’m the kind of person who says divine now)¬†so I decided to go back to the source.

If you haven’t accepted it already,¬†Pinterest is the shit. It just is. It’s my guidebook for¬†cleaning my act up. Even though they DO have some heinous DIY shabby chic country sorority bullshit on there, I also feel like I’m in control over my home, my body and my mind when I’m on that app. It makes adult life possible for a ne’er do well, and you can imagine how useful that is for me.

Follow me on Pinterest here! Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 12.42.04 PM

So naturally, I turned to Pinterest when it came time to prep for Thanksgiving. I knew I wanted to make a pumpkin pie, because it’s not Thanksgiving without one. And I’m all about doing holidays right. Plus, it’s a southern staple, so I figured it would be a nice addition to their Long Island spread.

I’m not sure why I decided I needed to make the pie “from scratch,” since I’ve never done that before in my life. I was raised in a household where store-bought pie crust and filling from a can is quite fancy enough. Hell, a pre-made¬†pie would be just fine. And James’ parents aren’t snooty either. I guess it was just one of those situations where I was being a teacher’s pet (his mom is a teacher,¬†no pun intended though) doing extra credit even when I already had an easy A. Plus, holidays are just ridiculously important to me. I’m the girl you’ll find frantically buying packs of hot dogs on the 4th of July, dragging my friends to Central Park on a cloudy Memorial Day or flipping out about a serious lack of margarita mix on Cinco de Mayo. To put it simply, I need to chill.

Regardless, there I was in the Union Square Whole Foods two days before Thanksgiving, zigzagging between rich hipsters and trying to find nutmeg. Of course there was none, presumably because every damn Thanksgiving recipe calls for it, so I settled for this thing called “Pumpkin Pie Spice,” a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. I picked up a pie pumpkin, threw it in my tote and prayed that that day¬†was not the day that I finally get pushed down the stairs boarding the L train, because it would have been a shame to squash that gourd (do you even see what I did there?)

I had already made a crust the night before. It was a graham cracker crust, so not made from “scratch” per se, however, it did not start out as a crust and then it became one, so I happily gave myself credit.

Making a graham cracker crust is super easy. You take 10 graham crackers (usually how many they include in a pack), crush them up, and mix it with 6 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/3 cup of sugar.

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Since I don’t have a food processor, I tried to use a regular blender to crush the crackers, which didn’t work very well. When the machine starting smelling like smoke (wtf?) I stopped and crushed the rest with a potato masher. Then I mixed in the butter and sugar (I used brown sugar because it’s what I had and it seemed just as good if not better) and pressed it into the pie plate. You can use something flat like a measuring cup to press down the center, and use your fingers around the sides.
It ended up cute and tasty looking, and I was impressed with myself. Find the full recipe for a graham cracker crust here.
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HOW CUTE, right?
Since I was going to bake the pie anyway, I didn’t need to pre-bake the crust. I just put it in the fridge overnight and came back to it the next day.
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Having made it home alive after my Whole Foods excursion, I was ready to make my pie goo. Everyone kept telling me this was the most annoying part, the most delicate process and the main reason why nobody likes making pumpkin pies from scratch. But I thought it was pretty straightforward and fun.

I got the full recipe from¬†here. Y’all, I cannot stress the¬†beautiful¬†and sometimes¬†frightening normalcy I am able to witness on¬†these Pinterest-ass blogs. I adore them.

Essentially, you cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and the stringy stuff. Then you place each half on a cookie sheet “flesh-side down,” which I figured out¬†means “round side up” even though I thought flesh and skin were the same thing and that the¬†skin was on the outside…but ANYway…

Then you roast that shit at 325 for an hour. Once it’s done, you’re able to to pull the skin off the outside and just have the pumpkin mush, which you have to mash up really well. This is where I had a problem, because my blender was smelling like smoke, I don’t own a standing mixer or a food processor, soooo I just used a whisk. I whisked so hard n fast, and of course, no matter what it was still a little chunky. But¬†I was like, “Whatever. It’s 10PM and I need to go to bed soon.”

I dumped in the rest of the ingredients, (eggs, milk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice) and made the gorgeous barf-colored mixture pictured below.

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mmmm

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Above is what it looked like in the crust before I baked it. A little chunky, sure, but I was already like 80% done making my first pie ever, and it actually looked like a real pie!

So obviously I patted myself on the back way too early, failing to realize that one of the easiest ways to fuck up a baked good as an amateur is by burning it. I put the assembled pie in the oven at 325 and was planning to leave it in for another hour. But somewhere around 45 minutes I started smelling burning crust.

See, this is what I can’t deal with when it comes to ovens. They’re all different and confusing and none of the knobs make any damn sense, and you need to buy a fancy thermometer to actually know what the hell is going on in there. Plus, I’m always just afraid I’m going to fall in and permanently disfigure my face.

You’d think I’d be¬†way too simple and anxious to even survive in a kitchen, but again, there I was,¬†creatively navigating this potential disaster in my own stupid way. I unbent a paperclip to do the “toothpick trick” to¬†figure out if the center of the pie was done. I moved it from bottom rack to top rack to bottom again. I changed the oven temperature. And eventually I just took it out, let it cool and hoped the damn thing would stop jiggling.

The next day, I carried the pie to work on the L train, placed it in the fridge with a big DO NOT EAT sign, then cradled it in my lap on the LIRR (with a can of whipped cream in my purse, of course.)

As it turns out, ¬†James’ mother doesn’t even like pumpkin pie!¬†This was awesome¬†news! But it was a hit with the men of the household, and I fuckin’ loved it too, so that was enough for me. Plus, I think I mentioned once or twice¬†that I MADE IT FROM SCRATCH, so I’m pretty sure I get some points for that with the whole fam.

The next week, as I was roasting the leftover pumpkin seeds, I started imagining myself as a mother, hosting my own family gatherings and feeding pie to my little babies. I had fantasized for about a minute when I smelled the pumpkin seeds starting to burn.

“Yeah,” I thought. “One thing at a time.” And I poured¬†a glass of vodka.

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PS – This is the appropriate pie-to-whipped-cream ratio. Thanks.