The countdown to Thanksgiving was fraught with sufficient dramatic tension. It all boiled down to an intricate choreography; scones and brownies lying in wait while blind-baking pie shells lollygagged in the oven. Cookies and coffeecakes demanded moderate heat but those damn pies required high heat to begin and low heat to wind down. This did not take into account a substantial amount of pie whispering to the custards. Pumpkin, pecan and buttermilk prefer low and slow, an option that became increasingly more difficult to offer as Sunday turned into Monday then slipped into the wee hours of Tuesday.
Our team amassed more than a fair share of injuries. Parchment paper cuts, oven burns and sheet pan collisions dwindled our ample supply of bandaids and burn cream. Just in case you couldn’t remember where on your hand you had nicked yourself with the microplane or sliced your fingertip with a paring knife, there was plenty of lemon juice to identify the laceration.
Despite the incessant ringing of the phone and throngs of hangry holiday revelers, it proved best to leave customer relations to the barista crew. I stumbled into the path of an irate patron by simply answering an innocent question.
Hangry Mom Clutching Baby: “Do you refrigerate the pecan pie overnight?”
NMMNP: “Yes. It contains eggs. Best to refrigerate it overnight. But serve it at room temperature tomorrow.”
Hangry Mom: “Eggs?”
NMMNP: “Yes, pecan pie is made with eggs.”
Hangry Mom: “EGGS??!!”
NMMNP: “Yes, (still) eggs.”
With a grand swoop, quilty-North Face-jacketed Hangry Mom grabbed the pecan pie. Clearly exasperated with my response, she hiked up the baby under one arm and the pie box under the other. Exiting the bakery in a huff with both baby and box at precarious 45 degree angles, I silently mouthed the words, “Happy Holiday to you, Madam.”
In the magic that is retail, Trader Joes welcomed us with a display of miniature evergreen trees and a ceiling to floor display of peppermint Jo-Jos. (Not so fast, Hawaiian-shirted Joe; Hanukkah begins on the evening of December 6th.) Face-to-face with an empty refrigerator case, our heavy cream hopes were once again dashed. Opting for half and half, my pie odyssey continued as I was forced to purchase a can of Trader Joe’s Organic canned pumpkin. Anemic in pumpkin color and not nearly as solid as Libby’s, I suffered in silence all the way home. Or maybe not so silently.
NMMNP: “I can’t believe this. No heavy cream? Nothing but that organic pumpkin?”
Blondilocks: “It will be fine, Mom.”
NMMNP: “It won’t be fine. It will be Organic pumpkin pie which means it will taste like fresh pumpkin which means it will taste thin and pale orange, just like a vegetable and not like a pie and it just won’t be the same…”
Blondilocks: “Mom. It’s pumpkin. You have the mince pie and the wild nut…”
NMMNP: “And half and half instead of heavy cream. Aaargh- I can’t believe this. How can a store order insufficient heavy cream?!”
Blondilocks: “Mom. This is not our driveway.”
NMMNP: “So the pumpkin pie will have to suffer because… Wait. Is this our driveway?”
Blondilocks: “No, this is not our house.”
NMMNP: “Oh, well it’s because they haven’t collected the leaves. It’s hard to tell. It’s coming up.” Here we are. No. This is not the house. (Backing up.) Here. Here we are. No. Next one. Promise.”
Blondilocks: Pause. “You know, you could write a children’s book and title it, Is This My Driveway?”
On post-Thanksgiving Friday, the house still echoes with the aroma of turkey and too many pies. Despite the paltry pumpkin and the half and half, that pie was pretty darn tasty. In fact, my father claims it is the best one I’ve made to date. Go figure. Sitting down to a now empty dining room table, I’m sipping my morning coffee and nibbling a smidgen of pumpkin pie. After all, it is a vegetable. And now, for my daily allotment of fruit and tipsy, perhaps the teeniest sliver of mince. Followed by a wild nut chaser.