In my family, my grandmother owned this tradition for most of my life. In her later years, it became too much work for her and no one else was ready to take it on. We went to a restaurant in Menlo Park instead. Besides grandma, I don't think anyone else truly enjoyed those Thanksgivings. Since grandma died, we've been casting about for new traditions.
I'm the only person in my family who I think genuinely enjoys making the big holiday dinner. It is a little stressful since no one taught me how to do it. I'm still learning, and I'm getting more confident every year. People insist it's tremendous work, but it's not exactly work. It's a challenge.
Last year I did Christmas, and it was a success. This year we're going to see Guy's family in Florida for Christmas, so I'm doing Thanksgiving instead. Everyone wants to bring something. The fact is, I don't want anyone to bring anything. My family can't cook. They don't want to cook. They'll go buy something already made and bring that instead. But I don't want to eat that, and I don't want to serve it. So, please. Don't bring anything! Just show up on time, and be gracious. That's all I ask. Let me take care of it. I want to.
Is that wrong? Am I rude? Thanksgiving only happens once a year.
My people are very conventional, and they expect the routine fare. Anything else would be a surprise. Blank stares and furrowed brows. Faint sights of disappointment. So to satisfy my desire for novelty and culinary sophistication, I tweak a little bit here and there. If I tweak a little bit more every year, maybe one day they'll be more...like me!
I've been making this two-layer pumpkin-pecan pie for a few years now. I'm going to make it again this year, and then make something else as a surprise. That way I fill the predictability quota while also getting a chance to spread my wings. My turkey wings.
Pecan Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup pumpkin
2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp sour cream
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup pecans
1 9-inch uncooked pie shell.
Preheat oven to 425 deg F.
Pumpkin layer: In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Pecan layer: In another bowl, combine syrup, brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, lemon rind, lemon juice and salt. Stir in pecans.
Spread the pumpkin layer into the pie shell, then carefully spoon the pecan mixture over it. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 for 20-30 minutes more. The filling will puff slightly, but the center will not be completely set. Serve warm or at RT.