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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Goodbye My Good Cooking Buddy... Goodbye.

That's right, today at 336pm, the death nell of my good cooking buddy was sounded through my kitchen by the sonorous tolling of cracking cast iron.

WWwwhhhuuuuuuutt!?! That's right, I managed to crack the bottom of my cast iron dutch oven that has seen me through many a batch of corn bread, roasts, and batches of Julia Childs Beef Bourguignon.

See that crack running diagonally down from the left? Doesn't seem like much, does it? But juices had already flowed into and through it by the time I had figured out what the noise had been. The crack had to searched for though I could feel it with the edge of the spatula.

How did I manage this you ask? By browning the sides of the nights rib eye roast before putting it in the oven to be roasted to tender deliciousness. It still got roasted mind you, just not as I had planned. I'm guessing since after talking to my mother and finding out that she didn't even know how old this pot was as she had bought it from someone else, it was probably due to age. It had been around in our kitchen ever since I could recall and I happily took it when it was offered to me. The bottom had started to become curved with rehearings and coolings, and lets face it, even metal ages. Metal that has been lovingly scraped and seasoned, can fail still.

My earthenware covered stone baker saved the day however and I saved the roast and laid the loss low with a feast that it deserved.

Oh, and a generous serving of wine helped with my grief too.

In fact, much of the day was spent in the kitchen. Its a way I don't mind spending days and as I had today off... I know, I hear you gasping with disbelief! I get another day off next Sunday! But as I said, I don't mind spending the day this way, I hacked into my pumpkins so I can make fresh pumpkin pie next weekend. I know, I can hear you asking yourselves, "What? Fresh pumpkin pie? Where's the can?" Well, that my dears, is not fresh pumpkin pie.

This is. Look at all that delicious pumpkin just waiting to go in the food processor! And I get pumpkin seeds to boot! It's a win-win and as I spent 99 cents on each pumpkin, it's a bit cheaper than buying a can of pumpkin too. Not much, but a bit.

Best yet, is what I make is already spiced. That's right, I can mix in the eggs and the milk and throw it all in the made by hand crust (really, what else were you expecting from me?) and bake it all up to wonderful deliciousness. Oh, and whip up a batch of homemade bourbon whip cream too... I know you're going to ask, so this is what I do.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops from two small baker pumpkins. Slice into quarters and scoop out the seeds and set aside for later toasting. Melt 3/4 cup butter. Spoon it into the quarters the butter, top with a couple genorous scoops of pumpkin pie spice/brown sugar mix (1 batch of pie spice mix and 1cup of brown sugar premixed and set aside) and stir it all up and slather the inside edge of the pumpkins. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until a fork slides easily though the meat of each quarter. Allow to cool until handling is able to be done with out burning oneself, peel the now easily separated skin and place the meat into a food processor. If you allow them to cool completely skinning becomes a bit tougher. I typically cut each quarter into smaller easier to handle pieces for this step and leave the baked spice in place as I dump it all into the food processor. Whir it all up until it is the right consistency. You shouldn't need to add any liquid. It can keep like this in the fridge for a couple weeks or you can freeze or even can it from this point if you so wish. If you can it, you MUST bring it to a full boil and keep there for the desired amount of time. Pumpkins are full of natural sugars of their own and can spoil if not canned at full temperature.

Now, I hear you asking, "What is pumpkin pie spice?" Well, it's whatever you want it to be, but what I use for this recipe is:
4 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons nutmeg (2-3 if freshly ground which is always preferrable) .
4 teaspoons ginger
3 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

Now, this mix is dependent upon your families tastes mind you. Some people feel a bit strongly about nutmeg and cloves. For them I would suggest less of those spices, but I like this blend myself and even normally have it made up and in my spice cabinet stored in old recycled empty spice jars. I often use it for baking apples or other things such as pumpkin bread. Who wants bland pie or other baked goods after all? As for if you have left over butter and spice that didn't fit on the baking quarters I set it aside and when it all comes out of the oven I throw it in with what goes in the food processor because if you've ever seen me cook, these measurements are only really approximations. I just grab the little spoon and scoop and smell until the blend's aroma seems right. Mmmhmmm. Scrumptious. This nose hasn't led me to far astray yet.

And that my dears, is how I make my pie filling. But don't forget the best part! Whip cream! Ask any kid, they know this is the best.

One liquid cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon.

Throw that all in the beater bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to chill along with the beater itself. Beat on high until soft mounds form. DO NOT beat it until it is stiff. This is not meringue. It's Whipped cream!

I know, I hear you all cringing at the though, "BOURBON?!?" It's okay, I promise. I don't use just any old sludge of bourbon either. I use Wild Turkey's "American Honey" It is smooth stuff, and before you judge me, I suggest you try it, then don't judge, just "assess" my tastes and keep your opinion to yourself. Or at least write a humorous blog post of your own about it and shoot me the link. And if you don't let the kids eat all the whip cream by themselves, they won't even get a buzz. You'll have to worry about the sugar buzz more. Heck, you might want to give them a a couple fingers of bourbon to take the edge off that. Let them worry about diabetes and liver failure later in life.

Okay, I think that's it for the night. Hope you all had a great weekend. I'm off to knit since I didn't last night. I got Christmas cards written and addressed! Can you believe it?


  1. your culinary skills amaze me!! can't believe you wore out a cast iron cookware...seems wrong to just toss it in the trash. do you have a service planned?

  2. So sad about your pan.....planning on getting another? Need to take you to Penzey's spices! Hey..send me your address! K

  3. Loved the pictures! Your dinner looked fantastic! Wished I could have been there to help you with the loss of your pot!
    Here's hoping I'm on the Christmas card list!
    Hugs to Bob!
    Happy Holidays, my friend!