This year I had big plans for our Halloween pumpkin–fresh baked pie from scratch to go with our Thanksgiving kiawe smoked turkey. The recipes recommend using a sugar pumpkin but jack o lanterns could make the cut.
Determined not to waste so much food, I press on–cutting, seeding, slicing, and then into the slow cooker. Nothing to do but wait–wait and think about everyone congratulating me on my baking mastery and my ultimate resourcefulness.
Times up. I open the slow cooker. Pale yellow chunks of squash. I dig into the flesh, stringy like spaghetti squash. Pushing my thoughts of failure aside, I scrape the last bit of flesh into the Vitamix and press on. The end result, thin and wet. Not exactly appetizing, not even for baby food. Maybe if I strain it…
I pour the liquid into some cheese cloth. One cup at a time, I force it through the cloth and metal sieve, pumpkin bursting through the seems, yellow guts spraying everywhere. Liquid and energy drained, I’m left with a clump of dense yellow gray mash. Ok, maybe no baking trophy this year, but honorable mention still within reach.
Thanksgiving day, I pull out my homemade pumpkin puree. Still yellow, still gray, and this time a little bitter. Finally defeated, I toss the hard earned puree down the drain. Then I remember all the ingredients we’d waste.
I quickly look for a substitute–sweet potato pie. The recipe is festive enough, using similar fall flavors. The potatoes are quick and easy to roast. No need to puree. No need for cheese cloth. And with Okinawan sweet potatoes it has a stunning purple color. Just a tad better than yellow gray.
I get some ideas to pretty up the last minute pie. Crimp the edges and use the extra crust for leaves, made with a junk drawer cookie cutter and butter knife.
Arrange around the pie to hide any imperfections, brush with some egg wash, and into the oven.
The end result is homey comforting pie with just the right amount of sweetness after a heavy holiday meal. Be sure to serve warm or chilled (not room temp) with a dollop of fresh vanilla or coconut whipped cream
Cooks note: No matter what the recipe says DO NOT use jack o lantern pumpkins for your pie. You will lose. Trust me. Stick to the sugar pumpkins or better yet, Okinawan sweet potatoes. Honorable mention indeed.