Cooking: An Unscientific Approach

I like to cook. For me, that usually means throwing things in a pan or a pot until it tastes good. Sometimes I glance at a recipe first. It’s not a very precise approach. But it works pretty well for me, I guess, because I have a reputation for being a “very good cook” among my friends (although, among recent college graduates, maybe being able to cook more than ramen qualifies as “very good”?).

Per request, I’m going to share the “recipe” I use for pumpkin pie. It’s seen a lot of variations, including being made out of butternut squash when I couldn’t find any canned pumpkin (for some reason the UK just does not understand the American love affair with pumpkin).

I originally got the recipe from a friend, but some internet searching turned up a very similar recipe on Paula Deen’s site, so I guess that’s where she got it from. I’ve made some significant adjustments, to accommodate  my dairy allergy and general taste preferences. Wherever you see “almond milk” or “fake butter” you can replace it with the real stuff (if you want).

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit/175 Celsius


1 cups canned or cooked pumpkin, mashed (if you don’t know how to cook pumpkin look it up! Also, butternut squash tastes exactly the same)
1 cup sugar (sometimes I use as little as 1/2 cup, it really depends on how big your sweet tooth is)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted fake butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Ground ginger
Ground nutmeg
Ground allspice

2 Pie crusts (I usually get store bought but when I can’t find them I use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs and yolks, almond milk, and melted fake butter, and stir to combine. Add the vanilla, along with as much cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice as you freaking want (I’m thinking a tablespoon of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice and a teaspoon of nutmeg – the batter should change from orange to rusty colored. Be generous with your spices. Very generous.) and beat until incorporated.

The batter is going to be very liquidy. This is OK, you have all those eggs in there, they’ll set up.

Pour the filling into the pie crusts and bake for 45-50 minutes. I would check after 25 minutes to make sure your crust isn’t burning. If it is, cover the edges with tinfoil. When the pie is ready it’ll still be a little bit jiggly but it won’t be sloshy. Yes, technical culinary terms.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: Pumpkin pie is not good hot. At least let it cool to room temperature before you eat it, this will help it set up completely. I think it tastes better chilled, so, stick it in the fridge for a while!

Enjoy the masterpiece you’ve just created. Eat it for dinner. Eat it for breakfast. Feed it to your kids; after all, it’s vegetables. Or keep it to yourself; they don’t need the extra sweets.

Pumpkin Pie from a *real* pumpkin, November 2007

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


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