Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

On years when the threat of squash bugs running rampant in my garden does not scare me off, I plant various winter squashs including the ubiquitous pumpkin.  There's a variety of things you can do with winter squash.  One thing I can highly recommend that may be slightly out of the ordinary is a curried squash soup.  Some people also like to just dollop some Earth Balance, salt and pepper on them and eat them straight up.  I so don't do this, even though I would probably enjoy it just fine now.  I had to do this as a kid and it always seemed to be the stringier, more watery varieties of winter squash that was put in front of me.  With my often generous crop of winter squashes, I like to make pumpkin pie.  

The obvious choice for pumpkin pie is pumpkins, and I do grow these alongside other winter squashes.  These are smaller pumpkins than the ones you cut up for Jack-o-Lanterns, which tend to be larger and stringier.  You can make even better pumpkin pies with less stringy, fuller fleshed squashes, like kabocha squash or miniature hubbard squashes.  

This year I grew miniature hubbards alongside pie pumpkins.  Neither did as well as I hoped, but I got a modest harvest.  The sweet and tender hooligans, otherwise known as squash bugs reared their ugly head in July and called an early end to the beautiful vine progression that was happening over the summer.  I fought them with a vengeance, cutting and burning leaves infested with eggs squashing the bugs between bricks.    They seemed to disappear and then reappeared very stubbornly on various plants around my garden.  I felt a little disheartened, but did not suffer a total loss. 

For the vegetarian meetup that I attend, I used one of my hubbard squashes to bake a vegan pumpkin pie. The hubbard squash gave the pie an excellent texture and the pie was fully eaten by the end of the event.  My pumpkins by comparison are a little more stringy and watery, and do not result in quite as dark of pie filling.  

Pumpkin Pie with Crumble Crust

So let's get on to my yearly tradition:  vegan pumpkin pie with crumble crust.  It's a bit of work to make, but totally worth it.  By the way, I got this recipe from someone who got it from boutell.com.

Recipe 1:  Cooked winter squash
Not a real recipe, but you need one decent sized winter squash that you plan to make a pie with.  
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Cut the winter squash horizontally across the center so that the stem is on one end and the blossom is on the other end.  
  • Using hands or a spoon remove the seeds and innards.  Don't toss the seeds!  They can either be saved to plant in your garden next year or they can be made into roasted pumpkin seeds.  The innards can be fed to your dog if they're not full of copius amounts of small seeds or added to the compost. 
  • Put the two halves of the squash on a baking pan.  I usually use a glass one because that's what I have.  Bake the squash for an hour to an hour-and-half till the skin is browning and it's collapsing in the pan. 
  • Allow squash to cool and then peel the flesh away from the skin.  Be sure to get all the skin off you can as I find it adds an undesirable flavor if mixed into the squash. 

Recipe 2:  Pie Filling
Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup of cooked winter squash  (You can substitute a can of pumpkin if you wish to skip recipe 1. Make sure it's pumpkin and not "pumpkin pie filling".)
  • 1 box of firm silken tofu.  Make sure it's silken!
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons grated ginger, squeezed and added
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (Yes, this is a personal touch of mine) 
Directions:
  •  blend tofu, sugar, and spices very thoroughly until tofu is perfectly smooth and no chunks remain. I typically use a mixing bowl and a hand blender.  A food processor may work just as well. 
  • Add in squash and mix until smooth.  At this point, you should have a yummy spicy pumpkin pudding.  
Recipe 3:  Crumbly Pie Crust
I originally just found this recipe on someone's post for making a crumbly crust for apple pie and it would work really well for apple pie.  It works great for pumpkin pie too.  The recipe for crumbly crust I am using with little modification can be found here too. 


Ingredients: 
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil  (virgin coconut oil works too) 
  • 2 tablespoon soy milk or orange juice  (I use almond milk) 
Directions:
  • Note: This dough is not the type you roll out.  It's not going to come together into a nice ball or flatten out perfectly.  It's not meant to. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Put flour, salt, and sugar into bowl and mix well.  
  • Cut oil thoroughly into flour until oil and completely mixed into flour.  Use a fork or a pastry knife. 
  • Pour in milk or orange juice and continue to cut liquid into flour until flour is fairly uniform in texture.  I tried using lemon juice tonight instead of orange juice.  It gave my flour this really high citrusy note which would be good in another pie but does not go well with pumpkin pie. 
  • Press dough into pie pan, covering the pan as uniformly as possible.  (It won't happen, though, which is part of the beauty of this crust.) 
  • Put crust in oven for 2-3 minutes. 

Recipe 4:  Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients: 
  • Pie Filling from Recipe 2
  • Pie Crust from Recipe 3 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  
  • Put pie filling into pie crust and swirl and flatten with a wooden spoon or spatula until the thickness is fairly even.  If the thickness must vary at all, it should be thickest at the very center. 
  • Put pie in oven for an hour to an hour-and-a-half.  Pie is done when a chopstick or cake tester comes out of the pie nearly clean.    

Hope you enjoy the pie as much as I do!



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