Friday, November 23, 2012

PegCole's Test Kitchen: Libby's Pumpkin Pie

The day before Thanksgiving I bake pies.
After so many years now, it's become a tradition for me to spend the day puttering around the kitchen setting the dining room table, which sees little use until the holidays, and tending to the baking. It is that time of year when I bring out the linens and special dishes; more for my pleasure than anyone else in the family. I carefully rinse out the well preserved China and the platter that once belonged in my Mother's wedding set.
To get the pies rolling (yuk yuk) I take one of the Pillsbury Pie Crust dough packages out of the refrigerator. Most years I make my own dough, but not this year. It's just easier to let the package come to room temperature while I find my glass pie dishes and gather the spices and ingredients together.

I use the Pumpkin Pie recipe from the Libby's can as I have for many years. It is really as easy as pie. No joke.

Ease the crust into the dish leaving just enough around the rim to turn the crust under and make thumb prints around the outside edge with the dough.

This pie uses an unbaked crust so there's no need to prick the dough as you would for a custard or pudding pie. To protect the crust from turning too brown, cut a strip of aluminum foil and fold it around the edges before you fill the crust. It makes it easier to handle when you do that before filling the pan. I use one long piece that I cut lengthwise and fold into thirds. Then I join the two pieces of foil at one end and size it to the dish.

It works out alright even if you don't use the foil protection. The crust just comes out a bit darker because of the baking time.

Mix the sugar and spices in a large bowl, add the canned pumpkin, the evaporated milk and the eggs then pour it into the unbaked crust.

It's hard to carry the filled pie to the oven without spilling over the edges of the crust so I pour the ingredients in the dish on a counter near the oven.

When it first comes out of the oven it's puffy like this then settles down after it cools. Just take off the aluminum foil skirt and let it cool completely before you dig in.

Happy Thanksgiving All.

Pass the Cool Whip, please

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Cup of Special Tea with Friends

Having a little slice of pound cake and a cup of special tea in my new favorite mug. Dare I show a picture here? It seems somehow sweetly familiar as if I've had this cup for a long time. I hold it easily and comfortably wrapped in my hands as the hot liquid warms my cold fingers.

The mug is new; a special gift, a reward for walking out in the cold this morning to take a picture of the sunrise.

Reaching into the spidery plastic mailbox, I was thrilled to spot a brown-paper wrapped package of sunshine peeking out. When I saw the return address my step quickened toward the house to reveal its mystery. I still had kitties to feed and had already stalled the 'inside critters' with stories that their canine breakfast would soon arrive.

Ms. Kitty and Tiny were the only ones that showed up for the buffet today and yesterday which is both good and bad. Jack has been missing meals for a couple of days now. He's a seasoned tom cat who knows his way around, but there are the local yokels who like to do burn outs on the back roads out here.

Ms. Kitty
Just another day in paradise here in the country. As the build next door continues slowly but ever pleasing in its beauty against the revised landscape of the setting sun.

Another one sinks into the watery lake and day is done.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

PegCole's Test Kitchen: Pumpkin Pie Cake

With the change to cooler weather the desire to start baking kicks in at my house.  I love a recipe that starts out with a yellow cake mix and adds pumpkin puree. The feed from Hub Pages this morning, showed this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pie Cake or Pumpkin Smash.

After a quick comment to the author I headed straight into the kitchen and made this dessert following this well explained and beautiful recipe which combines two of my favorite things: cinnamon and eggs, into an aromatic pan of irresistible goodness. The recipe showed quality photos that illustrated special tips like what to look for when testing to see if it is done
Go ahead and enjoy it with absolutely NO calories (virtual version only). Yes, it is as good as it looks.

Here's the recipe link: The Best Pumpkin Pie Cake Recipe, Easy Pumpkin Smash by Natashalh on Hub Pages. I give it a Yum Rating of 5.

Here's how mine came out and my variations from the recipe:

The recipe calls for a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree but mine was just 15 ounces. The manufacturers must have changed the packaging quantity but the pumpkin pie cake turned out just fine all the same!

I had a glass baking dish that measured more like 16 x 9" (rather than the recommended 13 x 11" baking dish) which seemed to make very little difference.

Rather than use a medium sized mixing bowl to puree the pumpkin combination, I just used my immersion blender right in the saucepan in which I would bring the mixture to a boil.

 Then it went over medium heat where it slowly came to a boil.
And the rest is in the recipe. It was my first time to make a "dump cake" but it won't be my last. Easy and delicious. Pour the base into the greased glass baking pan.

Sprinkle the box cake mix over this base and

Then spread the melted butter over the dry mix and put it in to bake.

For 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
Try to let it cool a bit before serving.

Just a bit, if you can.

Coffee Talk on Saturday Morning

Stacy David of the TV show Gears is talking about installing brake lines in his superlite race car project while my head set has Ann Margret singing "How Lovely to Be a Woman" from Bye Bye Birdie. It is a movie we watch whenever it airs on cable; the old version with Paul Lynd.

This has been a week of activity starting at 3am Monday morning when J headed out to the airport and San Jose CA. After an entire day of interviews with various principals from the hiring company, he did a technical presentation of the company's product to the group. He tucked a few of the slides received late Sunday afternoon into the powerpoint presentation that he had already prepared when they thoughtfully sent 75 slides for his perusal.

Tuesday was travel day heading back to Dallas via Phoenix, arriving at home at nearly 7 pm. Wednesday was a day to recover from the exertion and stress associated with four one-on-one interviews, lunch with the prospective manager and the product presentation. Now he waits again for the next move as he's done so many times before. This one takes the cake when it comes to jumping through hoops.

Wednesday was Doctor Day with the girls. The three of us headed out around 7:15 am for the medical clinic in Richardson. Our primary care physician (pcp) says the new Obama Care regulations are requiring doctors to spend more time on paperwork and therefore less time on their patients. He sat there filling out three forms for each woman as he explained that he is already seeing the pressure of the new requirements. To renew and continue the medications Mom and her sister have been taking for years, like blood pressure medication and thyroid medicine, they must submit for blood work and physicals more often.

At eighty seven and ninety two, it takes a lot of energy to fast all morning and get into the doctor's office to have blood drawn before having a first cup of coffee. They've put the girls in separate rooms this time so I sit with Louise since she can't see and is wheelchair bound. They ask me to join the doctor when he goes into the room with Mom. She's already told him she's 86. I correct it for the record.

Back in the room with Louise, the assistant asks me, "How old is she?" and once again I turn to Louise and ask her to tell the lady how old she is.

"I'm, um, ninety one." She says and looks to me for confirmation.

"Well now, Auntie, you're ninety two now." I remind her. The nurse scribbles it down on the paper.

During the visit, they're told that they must get glaucoma tests done every two years too. Doctor notes on the page he's filling out that he's notified them.

"There's a disclaimer somewhere that says 'Medicare may or may not pay for these tests'", according to Dr. Hussey, for things that may be required like a "Venous Doppler" to continue prescribing the blood pressure medication. These tests run thousands of dollars. Not a very positive impression of the new health care for elderly patients like these women who are still trying to make it on their own after a lifetime of working and contributing to the system.

The rest of the week was a breeze until I read that my Hubber friend Dusty Tibbs 50 Caliber has passed. Here's one dedicated to you today, Dusty, from Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World. Missing you already.

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Neighbors

The foundation poured, construction started this week on the neighboring property that has been vacant until now. Though it looks as if it will be a two story, we're happy that the structure is a little further back from the road than our house which is about 700 feet in from the main road that fronts the property. We still have a good part of our view of the lake which has been nearly obscured over the years by the growth of the scrub cedars.

We're not too pleased that with 10 acres, they chose to build their house about 10 feet from the closest property line to our land. The fence in the picture is just the dog's yard. We own the property across the way over almost to where the new building is going up.

Cats in the Hood

This morning 'Tiny' the smallest feral cat that has shown up, greeted me as I went out with kibble and a small amount of milk and some chopped chicken liver. They are getting used to this special treatment and he even let me touch his back lightly today! Here's a close up of Tiny.

Ms. Kitty still won't let me get near her and she's the one I'm worried about since Jack has taken an interest in fighting with her. It's only a matter of time until a new litter comes along at this rate.

Jack is the old man of the group. He has battle scars on his head from many confrontations and he stands his ground when the dogs try to intimidate him. Yesterday he spent most of the afternoon lounging on the back porch, much to their distress.

Jack has a way of meowing that is more like throwing his voice out of the side of his mouth like a ventriloquist. Sort of a short choppy mewr. Really strange. He was on the front porch in the lawn chair waiting for me to bring the food out to his station before I took this shot.

Hungry Jack

Ms. Kitty

Tiny and Ms. Kitty waiting together for breakfast.