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)  – sometimes 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, trustworthyunaggressive, 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.

Pie Crust 3
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.
Pie Crust 5
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.

 

 

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A Comprehensive List of Everything I Ate Thanksgiving Week

IMG_2287Celebrating Thanksgiving like a true American, in a Ralph Lauren blouse and someone’s neon hunting hat

This Thanksgiving was the first I was able to return home to Raleigh in the near three years I’ve lived in New York. I’d cleared my not so busy schedule to go down a few days early to help my dad recover from a routine surgery he was supposed to have, and when that surgery  was canceled, I had even more time to do what Thanksgiving is all about – appreciate loved ones (sure yeah whatever) AND expand my culinary and dietary horizons by eating no less than 5,000 calories a day not including alcohol.

The following is a comprehensive list of everything I consumed from Monday November 23 to Saturday November 29, 2014.

Monday: 
Airport Five Guys bacon burger with lettuce tomato and mayo and a Coke
Cobb salad from Chick Fil A with honey mustard dressing, fries with mayonnaise, ranch dipping sauce and lemonade
Cold pepperoni from the package
Two miniature red velvet cupcakes
Turkey deli meat from the package
One large vodka tonic with lime
One glass of red wine
4? 5? vodka cranberries
2 bunless Nathan’s hotdogs dipped in ranch and ketchup
1 bowl of leftover pot roast
Water

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One of the three grocery carts filled with food for my family’s 20-odd Thanksgiving guests

Tuesday:
Water
A leg and thigh of Bojangles chicken
1 Bojangles biscuit
2 glasses of sweet tea
1 glass iced coffee
1 Bojangles chicken breast
1 glass sweet tea
1 queen olive
1 pickled okra
2 grapes
1 Angry Orchard Cider
8 Cajun shrimps
1 bowl of penne vodka with three mozzarella stuffed meatballs
Spinach artichoke dip and sourdough bread
Water

IMG_2289Feast your eyes on the creamiest, tastiest spinach artichoke dip ever to grace the earth, made by me

Wednesday:
Coffee
Spinach artichoke dip and tortilla chips
Water
Massive sports bar nachos from Ruckus topped with chili, chicken, salsa, onions, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar, guacamole and sour cream.
2 Red Oak beers
Original style chicken sandwich from Cook Out
Water
4 piece nugget from Chick Fil A
More artichoke dip
Homemade cajun dirty rice
2 glasses of white wine
4 vodka cranberry sprites with raspberries

Thursday: 
Two pieces of bacon
Mimosas
One deviled egg
Brussel sprouts with mushrooms and garlic cloves
Baked mac n cheese
Green bean casserole
Squash casserole
Broccoli casserole
Turkey leg meat
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Acorn squash
Meat loaf
3 glasses of white wine
Water
1 bottle of San Pellegrino
More green bean casserole
Sarah’s Mom’s Filipino beef and noodle dish (name unknown)
Corn
Mashed potatoes
Ham
Water
1 Dr. Thunder
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Friday:
Green bean casserole
Mashed potatoes with gravy
Meatloaf
Stuffing
Squash casserole
Brussel Sprouts
Coffee
A dozen fresh Oysters on the half shell from 42nd Street Oyster Bar
Peel and eat shrimp
Raw clams
New England clam chowder
Seafood bisque
Oyster sampler: one topped with hot pimento cheese, one topped with breadcrumbs and garlic, one topped with spinach and cheese.
Scallops
Mashed potatoes
Penne pasta with poblano cream
2 martinis
1 margarita
leftover bacon
2 Tito’s Vodka grapefruits
Sapphire gin and grapefruit mixed drinks (exact number unknown)
Sapphire gin and diet cranberry ginger ale mixed drinks (exact number unknown)

IMG_2260We ordered many plates of these. I consumed a whole one on my own. 

Saturday:
Water
Coffee
1 bowl of penne and meatballs
1 bowl of green bean casserole
Half a pressed green juice
Steamed pork dumplings
Egg roll with duck sauce
General tso’s chicken (all white meat)
Pork fried rice
Water

Now, with that in mind, we must remember that there are people all over the world who are starving, who will never even see a fraction of this amount of food in a single week of their lives. Around the holidays it’s as important to share as much as you can with people in need, as it is not to take for granted the infinite holiday smorgasbord you might have access to. Appreciate the food. Make love to the food. Become one with the food. And in a small way, you will have begun to do your part. Just, if you can, try not to puke.

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da fam disaster

Happy Holidays Yall copy

Happy holidays n shit, folks! Allow me to ring in the season with this jpeg of my festive card (photo by Sass), which, now that I’ve stabbed every fed ex/kinkos employee into a bloody pulp to have prints made on time, figured out exactly how to buy stamps and then spent an entire night addressing and personalizing 100 of them…have now probably arrived at your door (if you did not receive a card I suggest you become BETTER FRIENDS WITH ME. This was the first card in what is sure to be a tradition for years to come. I’d love for you to be included). These pictures were so hard to take. I wish I had some behind the scenes footage of Sass trying to make the Chokey (my apartment) presentable and then trying to keep Kos n Gon’s attention for long enough to snap this pose. It was near impossible. Maybe I’ll post the outtakes sometime!

OBViously the reason I haven’t posted anything in so long is because of the job I had (or so that’s my excuse) the last few weeks of which I spent delirious, looking like this
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and of course, answering emails like this

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Welp.

During my free time I was spending all my money on BRUNCHES and not giving a single fuck cause, I mean, ya gotta eat. One must eat. Also, I was involuntarily waking up at 9:30 am and starting to feel weak around midnight. Sometimes my friends would convince me to come out to things and I’d show my lazy face. My fav night was one where Moe, Lamonday, Emma and I went to SHADE: DETROPIA and it was shut down for some unknown reason (they have since had their ‘redux’ but I didn’t feel like going. I’m not kiddin bout this lazy thing, and also it was raining so like, nah). Afterwards we sauntered over to Wreck Room where I fended off randos who kept striking up convos about the teeny tiny Eli Manning jersey I was wearing. I don’t know anything about sports! I bought this cause it made my boobs look big and the guy I have a crush on is a huge giants fan! What are you talking about, sahn!  Moe met some dude he kept calling DJ Khaled who was most definitely not, and we ended up jumping in the back of his jeep(?) and going to Bossa Nova, where his aggro muscleman entourage wouldn’t let me talk to any boys or walk home alone. I was like, mane, I just needed a ride. I’m a free woman! The fuck is this shit! It was so much fun.

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two idiots & their cartoon counterparts

Oh, and once I went to a house show to see my friends Junior Astronomers play. Reid kept yelling stuff like “TWITTER POLL: WHO HAS A BLUNT?” and “FAM! FAM! TWITTER POLL: DO I GIVE A FACK?” and then he pulled his wiener out. It was one of the more eventful nights of the last month.
IMG_3104twitter poll: is u crazy?

I guess I have to admit something that is a bit suspect, which is I’ve probably only visually absorbed about 30% of my life over the last 2 months because I’ve been texting someone I refer to as “Teen Boo” (he’s 21). I’ve sent about a nude a day, which is out of control, and have gotten pretty much nothing else done. Meanwhile, he lives far away and I only get to see him like once a month or less (it’s the perfect relationship!). The first of those times was just before I left for Thanksgiving when he was in town visiting family. The night before he came over, I tried to tweet this
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I def did not. When we finally met IRL I did not fuck it up. We actually had a fabulous time that looked a little something like this:
IMG_3459The next day I packed up and left for a Martha’s Vineyard Skanksgiving Extravaganza, which was to take place at my brother Nate’s, and included the couple affectionately termed Winnah, a lot of vodka cran and TONS of food. As Nate prepared the turkey in his surgical gloves and we quoted got2b real and talked shit about everyone we know, I got drunker and drunker and drunker. By the end of the meal, we were apparently listening to old Daft Punk and I was apparently doing this…

and then I took this selfie on nate’s couch
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The next day I didn’t even have a hangover, but I did poop enough to make room for a MASSIVE seafood dinner that was basically a giant bowl filled with lobster and potatoes and mussels and sausage and I ate it ALL because…I don’t fuck around. This booty didn’t just appear out of nowhere, ok? Before I left we did an offroading trip around Chappy, and I instagrammed this pic that my friend Cassie called my “alter-ego who wears clothes!” which basically sums up the family-friendly side of my persona. I was still drunk, though! I mean…let’s be real.
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Since I’ve been back, I’ve been BRUNCHING MY LIFE SAVINGS AWAY with friends (Stacey visited last weekend! The look on her face when I told her I asked for Uggs for christmas was just priceless) and feeling sorry for myself because the company I work for just elects not to pay its employees whenever it’s in the mood. I’m not great at budgeting as it is, so when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, not getting one can reeeally hurt. That’s why I always eat for two, in case I have to skip a meal.
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NOW I’M IN NC and waiting for all my best homies to arrive. This year’s holiday party theme is well under construction and about to pop the fuck off. This Saturday…at 3801…they are coming.
xxxmasaliens
BE THERE.

I wanna dank u

Not to shatter the illusion or anything, but I actually have a pretty simple life about half the time. I get pretty turned on by domesticity, not because I feel somehow destined for it as a woman (what?) but because, just like sex and partying and being a thug, it’s something I genuinely enjoy. This is heightened around the holidays. When I moved out of my parents’ house five years ago I realized I had taken for granted the elaborate ceremony my mother constructs for every single national celebration–from the Christmas to the Fourth of July to Kid’s Day, a holiday she made up for us when she was a single mom. Once I realized how hard it is just to take care of myself, I developed the utmost respect for anyone of any gender who can juggle a career and a social life and doesn’t sleep in a pile of garbage every night.

While much of this year has been about exploring what New York has to offer in terms of moneymaking and entertainment, a large part of it has also been about self discovery and improvement. In a city where you are inundated with (often unwanted) stimuli as soon as you leave your apartment, it’s important to have a comfortable apartment to come home to. And when you’re surrounded by strangers all day every day, it’s important to be comfortable with yourself when you’re finally alone.

I know…Y SO SRS?!!

What I’m trying to say is, last week I spent most of my free time dustbusting. taking pictures of cats (87 in one week–I counted), looking up Thanksgiving recipes, listening to Norah Literal Jones and writing meditations in my journal to keep the vibes posi and strong.

Here are some of the highlights.





By the time Danksgiving Eve had rolled around my positive energy was so high that I was convinced to go to The Woods for the first time in months and actually had a lot of fun! Later someone told me it was lesbian night and it all made sense. I’m not going to recount the details…just play this video I accidentally made on the cab ride home.

I’m not sure if I was still drunk the next morning or what, but I was in SUCH a good mood I bought a bouquet of flowers to bring to dinner, talked to my mom on the phone for an hour about how much I love her, and spent the rest of the day folding all my love into a serious home-cooked meal at Winston and Hannahs for our guests, Beth, Megan, Linnea and Syma (all while popping 800 mg ibuprofens to stave off my hangover).

(Winston made a REAL turkey! It was a big moment for him. From what I hear it was really good…I made a vegan roast that potentially no one enjoyed but me *DIVA SHRUG*)

(The most important ingredient in ev er y thing)

(Kiss da cook! Also idk what it is about aprons but they always slide between my boobs all wonky like this)

(The finished product! See that giant empty bowl on the corner? That’s what I ate out of. And yes, I finished it all.)
Yeah yeah, so I’d made a huuuge deal about how much partying and drinking I was going to do on Danksgiving. But really I had three beers, ate my dinner and passed out in my brother’s bed. Still though, I felt really accomplished. It’s amazing how rewarding it can be to successfully complete one adult thing from time to time.

Excuse me while I go pat myself on the back until Christmas. Or until my next fuck-up. Whichever comes first.