Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mrs. Culinary, meet Mr. Corporate

...Earn Your Dough in the Cutting Board Room Floor

It is interesting how the foods we seem to love the most are those that we consume the least -- I suppose this is what makes the holidays so special. Only certain foods are made on Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays...etc. One of the first dishes I learned to make was pie, pecan pie and pumpkin pie, which was only consumed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. God, I love pumpkin pie doused in Cool Whip. Cool Whip and egg nog are the worst things to be lingering around the fridge during the holidays, because I am that girl who will bend over in front of the fridge, lift the lid and stick my finger in the flimsy little plastic bowl and be satisfied by the mild sweetness of the chemical topping deliciousness. That is…until I go back and stick my finger in the bowl again. And again. Geez. Egg nog. Same deal. I just take one sip from the container. Mmm. Maybe pour a teeny bit in a glass. Maybe a little more. That’s the holidays for you. Special holiday food, why you gotta be so special?

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my family and I have gone to Florida to visit family. One particular year, my mother and my Aunt Paula got a little too quiet in the kitchen; moments later, they exploded through the dining room door literally covered head to toe in the Cool Whip that was meant to top the pies. I don't think my aunt's silk shirt ever recovered. My grandmother was seething at the sight of them. Imagine that--a Cool Whip fight on Thanksgiving Day. Who needs appetizers when your family can be so entertaining?

This was the first year I have ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family, but staying in New York just made more sense financially since I would be in North Carolina a few weeks later for Christmas. So, I spent Thanksgiving in Brooklyn with friends, and I was assigned to bringing desserts. Or, I should say, I assigned myself to bring desserts, which were none other than?? Pecan and pumpkin pie. My first apartment in Hoboken was on the garden level, and old old old. The oven didn't look old, but it was finicky and never quite baked things all the way through. I should have remembered this from the peach cobbler soup it produced, but I didn't. On the outside, the pies looked amazing, like little heavenly bites of fall in your mouth. David came from work to help me bring them to Brooklyn the night before Thanksgiving. Subways and pies don't really mix, and I'm not one of those people who can stand on the train while it's moving and not hold on. The pies made it to Brooklyn, and we ate so much on Thanksgiving that we didn't even eat them that day. It was the next day when I discovered that neither pie had cooked all the way through. I know what you're thinking, but I inserted the knife in the middle. I swear. They weren't a complete disaster, but they could have been better.

As it turns out, a chance to redeem myself presented itself. A pie contest a work. Woo. Since I seemed to be limiting myself to pecan and pumpkin pie, I figured I would use this opportunity to branch out some. Now...I work with people that are not always so....social. So, the fact that we had an organized pie contest was fabulous. People tell you about nine to five jobs. They do. They "warn" you even. Cubicles. Flourescent lights. TPS reports. It's true. It's all true. Enter bonus here. I work on cookbooks...so, this is huge. Otherwise. I am not a nine to fiver.

Out of the 18? 19? entries, I was the only person who had eaten a sliver of my own pie. How else would I know I if it was good? Here are some of the pies. Yay.
Don't say this tart (which is not a pie) looks like ham. It's pears. They are fancily fanned.
The winner is....the Sweet Carolina Pecan Pie. See? Regardless of how much you branch out, the old classic seems to always win in the end.


Lisa said...

Hey, I'm new to blogging and checked out smartcookie since we both love 90210 and Sex and the City - figured we must be long lost soul mates or something cheesey like that. Anyway - dig your blog and I look forward to testing out the recipes.

AM Ashley said...

Please tell me the Carolina Pecan Pie was yours. I mean i had to assume it was, but i want confirmation. I am so proud. Pie lovers unite - the first pie I learned to make was mom's chocolate pecan pie and paradise pumpkin pie. I knew we were long lost sistas. Can't wait to see you this weekend and just a suggestions - maybe next time, add peaches or raspberry to that blackberry pie. The combo is fantastic in the summer!
love love love

Jadyn said...

tps....i'm right on top of that Rose! Love your stuff Jan...I have to agree with the pumpkin pie...yuuuuummmy!