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Thanksgiving is EASY Part 4: Pumpkin Pie

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Who doesn't love pumpkin pie? Well, a few people, but they can bring their own dang pie. I am not even going to deal with the crust. This is not the time to be learning how to make the perfect pie crust. Marie Callendar's deep dish pie crusts are fine. Let them thaw a little even though you are not supposed to, because the dough cracks and this way you can repair tell-tale problems and actually make it look more homemade. I've never had anybody complain. Really, people hardly cook. When they see that you have made a pie they act like you have just made it appear out of thin air. You are magic. I can't stress homemade whipped cream enough. The only excuse is if you don't own a mixer. It takes 3 minutes. This recipe makes 2 pies, depending on the size. If you have extra filling, pour it in custard cups. You get to eat those now as your bonus for all this work - I mean FUN!

OK, let's bake some pies!

Shopping List:
2 deep-dish pie crusts
1 big can pumpkin puree
light brown sugar
ground cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
allspice
milk
eggs
vanilla

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(You should already have white sugar, flour, salt, whipping cream)

TOTALLY AMAZING PUMPKIN PIE

2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
Dash salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, ginger, allspice
Pinch ground pepper
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixer, beat together pumpkin, brown and white sugars, flour, salt, spices, pepper, cream, milk, eggs and vanilla until it looks like pie filling.

Place pie shells on baking sheets (cookie sheets). Pour filling into pie shells. Bake until filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in center, about 45 minutes. A spot about the size of a 50-cent piece in the very center should still look damp.

Cool on a wire rack. Cover with waxed paper and set in a safe place in the refrigerator.

(Shortcut: Use "pumpkin pie spice" instead of measuring so many spices)

To whip cream:

Place 1 or 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, about 2 teaspoons sugar and a few drops of vanilla in the mixer. Use the wire whisk attachment if you have one. Whip until soft peaks form.

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(Shortcut: Reddiwhip)

OK, so your final game plan:

Tuesday:

Call people to confirm what they will bring. Ask someone to bring the rolls.
Go shopping at the grocery store early in the morning or late in the evening.
Make whoever you live with clean the house.
Check tablecloth, china and glasses to see if they need ironing or have become dusty.
Get out the big roasting pan, baking dishes, Mixer, etc.
Clean out the refrigerator. You will need the space.
Order in Chinese food and relax.

Wednesday:

Prepare:
Pie (I always make this first so I don't have accidental garlic or onion transfer).
Cranberry Sauce
Green beans
Stuffing
As long as you are already peeling and chopping, prep the onion and garlic for the turkey and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge. Triple-bag it so the pumpkin pie doesn't taste like onions.
Set the table. I go for buffet service. It's easier on everyone.
Make somebody do all the dishes.

Thursday:

Get that turkey going.
Make someone peel the potatoes (they can sit in water on the stove for awhile).
Put butter out in butter dish to soften.
Set out appetizers.
Have a few vases and shears ready in case people bring flowers.
Have the wine openers and glasses out.
Have extra serving spoons ready in case people bring unexpected side dishes.
About an hour before the turkey will be ready, turn down the heat in the oven a little and put in the stuffing to warm up. Add the green beans about 1/2 hour before turkey is ready. You can always microwave stuff if you have no room in the oven.
Make someone mash the potatoes.
Prepare the gravy.

Figure out who will be carving the turkey (this can be an alpha male thing, or put someone on the spot. Privately ask the oldest or most important man there if he would like to do the honors, then move down the line if he says no. Yes, this is totally sexist). Have this person carve in the kitchen and put the meat on a nice platter - white meat on one side, dark on the other. You miss out on the big presentation, but that is when people drop the turkey or the electric carver short-circuits. It's all fun and games until somebody loses a thumb.

As people are finishing up, start the whipped cream, unless you would all like to take a breather before pie.

See, that wasn't so bad, now, was it?

I love you, mom!!!

Photo by John Pittburgh via Flickr

Final, complete shopping list:

1 turkey (1 pound per person)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground pork sausage
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries
2 frozen deep-dish pie crusts
butter (Buy 2 pounds. You will need it for lots of things)
1 pint whipping cream
Quart of milk
dozen eggs
Baking potatoes (1 per person, plus a few more)
onions (You will need around 3 for everything)
garlic (1 head)
1 package or bunch fresh rosemary
2 pounds haricot verte
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1 shallot
1 bunch celery
1 bag fresh cranberries (2 cups)
1 quart chicken broth (for everything)
1 (6-ounce) box cornbread stuffing mix
2 cups crumbled dried bread or breadcrumbs
Dried sage
flour
sugar
1 big can pumpkin puree
light brown sugar
ground cinnamon
nutmeg
ginger
allspice
vanilla
Salt and pepper (invest in freshly ground pepper and a nice salt. It's a holiday)
aluminum foil

Turkey Recipe
Mashed potatoes and green beans
Stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce