Fixing Pie (saving an undercooked pie)

This year’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie came out less than ideally cooked, and we were able to save it from a runny fate by rebaking it. Here’s what happened. 

It was one of the frozen pies my mom purchased from my daughter as a fundraiser for the the school’s music department. Last year we thought these pies were actually quite yummy, so we looked forward to enjoying them again.

The instructions on the box said to bake the pie at a temperature 50 degrees lower if baking in a convection oven. So my mom thought this would be a good time to try out the convection feature of her new oven. Needless to say it resulted in an undercooked pie even though she let it bake for a few extra minutes. Those 50 degrees made a huge difference.

Perhaps it was somewhat the result of unfamiliarity with a new oven, but I don’t think convection instructions are always correct when they tell you to bake at a lower temperature. Why is this anyway? I thought a convection oven was supposed to cook quicker. That doesn’t happen when baking at a lower temperature.

Anyway, come time that any of us felt like squeezing another morse of food into our stomaches after stuffing ourselves with turkey, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing, we took our bites of pie and hesitated. Parts of the crust were doughy and the pie was runny in the center even though it had throughly cooled in the fridge.

We ate our pieces anyway because … pie. The flavor was still very good, but overall that poor little pie really needed more heat.

So we re-baked it.

We’d already cut a couple of pieces out of the pie so now there was a gaping hole left behind where those pieces had been. We needed a way to keep the filling from running into the crevasse when it got hot and even runnier as it re-liquified.

So we formed a sort of placeholder out of greased aluminum foil. A slices-of-pie shape cup was fashioned to sit where the eaten pieces had been. Then we filled that foil cup with some water to weigh it down, and keep it stable. This prevented the pie filling from oozing too much as it reheated. It also helped to stabilize the temperature.

We then popped pie in the pre-heated oven at the higher (non-convection) temperature and 35 minutes later — voila. Fixed pie.

The crust was now a lovely golden brown instead of the pale doughy impostor it had been, and the filling was now able to stand up on it’s own without wandering about the pie plate.

This process may not work with every pie. But it saved this particular doughy, undercooked excuse of (delicious) pumpkin pie goo and made it into a real, stand-up, yummy pumpkin pie.

(This post is also for NaBloPoMo.)

Adding a footnote since this is a popular topic on Thanksgiving 2018. I hope this helps save few a pies from a runny fate this turkey day. Thank you for visiting and feel free to leave feedback in the comments.

The temperature should be as high as the original temperature, at least 350 degrees. Use a thermometer to be sure. If you think your oven is running cool, but you have no thermometer you might want to crank it up to 375 or more. Check the pie regularly to make sure it’s not burning to a crisp.

If I was going to do the same again, I’d cover the edges of the crust. There were some slightly burned areas after the rebake. Make a ring of foil around just the edges. Remove it the last 10 minutes to make sure the crust is golden and flaky.

Also adding that since some pumpkin pie contains raw eggs, it’s probably not a great idea to eat the pie raw or undercooked. Heating completely through should take care of any nasties. But if the pie sat out at room temperature semi-raw for days or if there’s any evidence of a foul taste or smell, then probably best to toss it.

Also, this rebake method should work with many other pies that suffered from too little heat and ended up doughy or runny. Just be careful about burning the crust on the rebake. May not be quite as good as getting it right the first time, but better than tossing the whole pie. A rebaked pie is better than no pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Earlier in the day I caught a pot-holder on fire while checking on a pie. There were flames and everything. 

It was quickly extinguished, but the the whole kitchen smelled funny for a while. The pot-holder is still good. It’s just a little stinky. The pie turned out nicely.

Right now my tummy is still stuffed full of yummy food. This Thanksgiving was our first at my mom and stepdad’s new home. It has a great kitchen for cooking, but perhaps allows too many cooks working simultaneously. That can be a minor issue, but gets trickier when none of them know quite where to find things. It all worked out, and there’s much to be thankful for.

Wishing you and yours a lovely day and weekend!

Advance Warning

Earlier this Thanksgiving Day I burped. With all the food eaten and beverages consumed today I’m thinkin’ I’m not the only one. I hadn’t even eaten our Thanksgiving meal yet. It was a soda burp.

In my case, it lead to a discussion on whether or not people have advance warning before they burp (or fart for that matter), so that they can close their mouth or even excuse themselves to another room before cutting loose.

Years ago I had this same discussion with a co-worker, and dear friend, who complained that her husband (now ex) farted right there in their living room in front of her. On the couch even!

She’d tell him that he should go to the restroom. He’d argue that he had no advance warning, and therefore had no choice but to fart wherever he was at the time. She was somewhat offended by this. Her thinking was that he was just being lazy about where he dispensed his farts, and the claim of “no advance warning” was his unbelievable excuse.

In comes me. I was a little nervous about defending my friend’s husband as she seemed pretty certain that farting in front of others was uncouth. And really, her husband was a little uncouth sometimes in general, so it wasn’t a great stretch of the imagination to take his actions that way.

But no matter his other social manners I had to defend him because I hated to see him being unfairly accused. I wouldn’t want to be unfairly accused either. I too get very little advance warning that I might burp or “break wind” (if we want to be a little more polite here). So I told her that I rarely know ahead of time.

It was a surprise to her that anybody else would make this claim. While to me it was a surprise that other people get advance warning most of the time like my friend apparently did. It’s like some kind of magical fart-burp-ESP. Not me.

I almost never get a building of pressure to give me warning. Just, “frrrrp!” I’m sorry! I might shift my weight. Stand up. Sit down. And frrrrpppp! 

Today’s burp was the same, I was breathing in, breathing out, just like all the other times I breath, everyday, day after day.

Today, instead of the normal exhale that comes 99.9999% of the time, out came, “BRRRRURPPP!” I said “excuse me.” And, because I have the sense of humor of a five-year-old, I laughed.

I think I tend to laugh louder when I have zero warning. It surprises me. It feels like aliens have momentarily taken control of my body causing the burp. It tickles a little as it comes out. Then the aliens leave, and I once again have control of my body. Except for the laughter. (I can’t always control that either.)

I’m pretty sure the giggling kind of nullifies the “excuse me.” And it doesn’t help my argument that I had no advance warning. But I didn’t. Really!

My only advance warning was that I drank soda pop earlier, and that I was breathing. I didn’t feel it ahead of time at all (and don’t most of the time). And for those rare times I do feel it ahead of time, I try to be polite, but I don’t feel like I have time to go to another room. 

I briefly might know I’m going to burp. Then I burp. The End.

I’m probably not a very good role model for my daughter in this way. But I do believe her when she claims she didn’t know it was coming (except after the third time in a row I get suspicious).

Happy Thanksgiving Folks!

(This post was also for NaBloPoMo.)

The Secret to All Things Yum (Stuffing Edition)

I’m starting to think that the secret to all things yum is caramelized onions.

Well, caramelized onions for savory, cooked food. It would probably be the wrong kind of secret ingredient for cherry pie. Or Jell-o. And probably a little weird for peanut butter & jelly. But spicy peanut sauce may be another story …

For cooked and savory — if you have time to properly caramelize onions it will make practically everything taste better.

It’s like adding pure yum extract. More

Freezer Food Friday

I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing, right? Well, darn straight. Because it’s not. And as such, it won’t be a regular thing.

Some frozen food is good. The music department at my daughter’s school sold pies as a fundraiser. Frozen pies. Really quite yummy frozen pies (for frozen pies). So we bought several and so did my mom. No complaints there.

Now that my mom doesn’t live just down the road, I have to wait for a weekend to bring her the three pies that she ordered. So all the pies are in our freezer — her three plus our three. More

NaBloPoMo Goes to 11: Cat, Soup, and Towel – Full Circle!

It’s an odd trio, and it’s come full circle. 

On this 11th day of November and of NaBloPoMo I checked out the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt and discovered that the prompt and my blog have come full circle. 
The prompt for today is: An Odd Trio

It says, Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.”

It tasked us with this more than a year ago (has it really been that long?). On July 5, 2914 I posted:

Cat Soup and Towels, an odd trio but only for some More

Happy Labor Day! 

This fine Labor Day we’re traveling back from South Carolina where we were visiting my dad. Visits like these invariably involve lots of yummy food, fun, and a good bit of driving. 

We bowled, saw a movie, relaxed with my dad and ate a lot of yummy food.

Southern food like real barbecue, chicken, and cornbread is a guilty pleasure I’ve learned to relish on trips like these. My years of living near Nashville primed my taste buds. Why oh why does grease, sugar, and salt taste so good?. 

My dad manages a stellar pulled pork, some of which we have frozen in a cooler in the back if the car. We’ll enjoy that at home. Yesterday we ate rotissery chicken that he cooked on the grill. Tender, juicy, and that awesome  browned crispy skin. I love the brown crispy skin!

Now I’m munching on fried catfish at the Cracker Barrel. I love those crispy edges! Second verse same as the first. Cracker Barrel actually manages an excellent fried catfish. My daughter had fried chicken salad which is like a hybrid of southern and contemporary eats.

We finished with pumpkin custard n’ ginger snaps. Also yummy and kind of an excellent way to welcome in the fall days ahead.

Cooking Brown Rice: Rule of Thumb Method

Years ago a friend showed me how to cook rice measuring the water using only her hand. Today, I use the same basic method but instead measure with my thumb or finger. I felt a little weird plopping my whole hand in the pot.

This actually works great. I love that I don’t have to get out a measuring cup. It scales it up or down. It’s very easy. I’ve thought about purchasing a rice cooker, but we’re short on space and this works with the multitasking pots we already have.

Brown Rice Method:

Put rice in a pot. The pot should be a good size for the amount of rice — use a larger pot for a lot of rice and a smaller pot for a little. The uncooked rice should have room to cook and expand, but be deep enough in the bottom so that it comes at least 1/3 of the way up the side of the pot.

Rinse the rice if you do that. I find that brown rice doesn’t need as much rinsing as white, but I know some people don’t even rinse white.

Keeping the tip of your thumb at the top of the rice, pour water into the pot so that the water comes up to the first knuckle on your thumb. On me, this is about 1 inch.

Bring water to a boil on medium heat. Then cover with a tightly fitting lid. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid. (Treat it like it will release a cloud of poisonous fumes if you do.) Clear glass lids can help resist the temptation to remove the lid and take a peek.

Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit for 15-25 minutes. Leave that lid on the entire time! Once a minimum of 15 minutes is up, you can remove the lid and fluff with a spoon or fork before serving.

Cooking Brown Rice, A Recap:

1.) Put rice in a pot that has a tightly fitting lid. Use a big pot for a lot of rice, small pot for a little rice. Uncooked rice should come at least 1/3 up the side of the pot, but leave enough space at the top for rice to expand. Rinse rice if you do that.

2.) Fill pot of uncooked rice with water so that water line sits about 1 inch above the uncooked rice. On me, this is to the first knuckle on my thumb.

3.) Using medium heat, bring rice to a boil.

4.) Once it’s boiling, pop that tightly fitting lid on the pot and resist the urge to remove it while the rice cooks.

5.) Turn the heat down to low. And simmer for 30 minutes.

6.) Turn off the heat. LEAVE that LID ON! Let the pot sit for a full 15-25 minutes.

7.) Fluff with a spoon or fork and enjoy!

White Rice Variation:

Generally speaking, white rice doesn’t need as much water or to cook for as long as brown. I measure water for white rice to the first knuckle of my index finger. This is about 3/4 of an inch.

Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Done and yum!

Note that this method is not for quick-cooking rice.

Summer Remnants, Recipes

One thing that makes this time of year extra yummy is harvest — there are still lots of yummy fruits and veggies to be had from gardens and farmers’ markets. I’ve been seeing a lot of farmers’-market specials, many adding bulk discounts as they have lots of ripe produce and want to move it while it’s still sooo good. It’s great to stock up if you have room in your freezer or for canning. Or just make lots of yummy stuff to eat soon!

One recipe that can help:

Cowboy Caviar

Contrary to the name it doesn’t require cows, boys, fish eggs or eggs of any kind. This is basically a bean salad with corn, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. It can be eaten like a salsa with corn chips. It can be a topping on a salad. It can be heated and spooned over rice, added raw or heated to burritos, tacos, or nachos.  

It’s fairly healthy with protein, fiber, and fresh veg. It goes quickly around here so I usually double the recipe.

Cowboy Caviar ingredients:

1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained (or equivalent)

1 can (15 ounce) black-eyed peas, drained (or equivalent) I like the seasoned kind.

1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, lightly drained (good using diced tomatoes with chilies) or about 1-1/2 cups of fresh, diced tomatoes. That’s what I’m talking about. 

1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained or 2 cups fresh-cut or frozen corn

1/2 red (or green) bell pepper diced (or similar amount of other sweet peppers) 

1/2 small onion, diced

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)

About a cup or half a bunch of chopped cilantro (leave out if you don’t like cilantro)

About a 1/2 cup or 1/4 of a bunch of fresh chopped parsley

1 or 2 fresh chopped jalapeño peppers (to taste) 

Salt and pepper (to taste, it doesn’t need much salt, just a couple of pinches)

2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup Italian salad dressing (Paul Newman’s Lite Italian works nicely)

Mix it all in a large bowl adding the vinegar, olive oil, and Italian dressing last. We like to let it sit out of the fridge for an hour to let the flavors mix. Enjoy!  

Store covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The vinegar in the apple cider vinegar and salad dressing helps to preserve it longer than if it were just fresh-diced ingredients.

Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for August 21 is: Red Pill, Blue Pill

It asks: If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

If I had to make this choice permanently, I would never give up food. But if I could choose this as an option for certain times of the year or even just certain times of the day then I totally would.

I’ve come close enough to giving up food on the days that I drink meal replacement shakes. Some days are so busy. I still want good nutrition. I feel a lot better when I get something healthy in me. I drink meal replacement shakes and sometimes eat protein bars for breakfast or lunch. That happened a lot this summer and last. So a pill would be helpful when I’m short on time.

But drinking meal replacement shakes has made me realize that there comes a time when I just miss chewing. It doesn’t even have to be a steak or a gourmet meal — just chewing something. It could be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Chewing is part of the satisfaction of eating. And when I do eat a really good meal, oh my god, that can be heavenly! It feels like holding my breath, and finally getting to breathe again. The flavors are elevated over and above what I’d experience if I’d been eating regular food all the time.

I can only imagine meal replacement pills would be similar. I definitely don’t drink meal replacement shakes to relish their flavor or texture. Some of them are just not pleasant. A simple pill and a glass of water would bypass that and be quicker too. But I’d never want to do it all the time.

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