Wednesday, November 25, 2009
are you ready? (or, T Day minus 1)
are you a list maker? i am. i've got lists all over the place, tucked away in books and in piles on the coffee table (much to the boy's dismay). a few years ago when i discovered Google Docs, my life was transformed. i keep all kinds of random junk up there, lists of stuff to take camping, lists of things i want to do in life; but most importantly, this is where i keep an excel spreadsheet of all the Thanksgiving food that the boy and i have made in the past three years (you can read about our Thanksgivings past here and here and here).
on this spreadsheet i mark down the name of the dish, the source (which cookbook, website, what part of the boy's brain the recipe is stored in), and a high level of the ingredients list so that i can get an idea of what the grocery bill will be before heading to the store. this year i'm also logging a reverse countdown of when dishes need to start cooking - countdown begins around 4 or 5 pm (when we sit down to eat) and goes backwards to yesterday, when i started making a few things like cranberry sauce and pecan pie.
this system works for me. what works for you?
a few weeks ago, we splurged and bought one of those countertop convection ovens, and frankly i've no idea how i got through life without it. i mean, i really don't know how i got through all this marathon cooking in the past without something like that in my life. i could have really used that thing this past summer when running our regular oven was unthinkable because the heat would be intolerable. yesterday i successfully made my first pecan pie in it (used regular bake function, not convection - i was afraid the pie would turn out too browned before its time). for the record, pie crust and i are not friends. i've not had great success with it, but i also haven't been practicing as much as i should have. this time around i think i did okay. i think part of my problem is not having enough patience to deal with it. pie dough is very finicky, it likes to stay cold and not be manhandled. i started the dough last weekend and froze it until the day before yesterday, when i took it out and let it thaw in the fridge. i used a Cook's Illustrated recipe for partially cooked crust, which uses both butter and shortening. the true test will be tomorrow when i bite into it, but so far i think it turned out alright. i need to work on making pretty edges à la Martha Stewart, but this is a good first attempt.
you know what frightens me? most pecan pie recipes call for a cup of corn syrup. the idea of that makes my teeth ache. i found a recipe (Cook's Illustrated) that calls for 3/4 cup of it, but i also figured What the hell, it's Thanksgiving. i've done so well on this Detox Plan, a little glucose won't kill me. Yet.
pecan pie reminds me of my Dad. he used to make it every year when i was a kid, and i believe that the recipe he used was one found on the side of the bottle of Karo Syrup. i never much liked the stuff growing up. in fact, i'll be honest, i don't think i've ever eaten pecan pie before. i made this one in honor of our friend Ken who is from South Georgia. Ken told the boy that he loves pecan pie, so i made him one. i will say that i was pretty happy with myself when i tasted the batter; perhaps that missing quarter of a cup of corn syrup is the key. i think pecan pie and i can be friends.
incidentally, how do you pronounce "pecan"? seeing as this is Ken's pie, i am now pronouncing it "Pee Can" (the South Georgia way), but others pronounce it "P-Cahn". my mom calls it "Pay Can", so i grew up with a distorted way of saying it even though my dad is Southern by birth. which team are you on?
wishing you all a fantastic Thanksgiving.