Photo: Simple Hummus Recipe, Posted 2011
There’s a blue index card on my desk. It’s sitting between my laptop and the back half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I should definitely not be eating so close to dinnertime.
It’s a list I made: “List of Things I’m Going to do While I’m Not Working.”
I need to make this list, or I won’t get anything done.
Here’s what’s on it:
On the top of the list it just says “TOKYO.” I’m planning to go there. I need to research air fares. And I need to learn how the subway system works. I also need to determine what I want to see, and what I can skip. And how to order food. And how to deal with sleeping in a file drawer. And where to go when I get lost.
I also want to see Mt. Fuji. And also Matsumoto Castle, Nagano, Minakami, and that place where those cute little snow monkeys take a bath in the hot springs and jump on your head to de-lice you.
I want to see all of these things, so I have to map out a route that allows me to see them all in the most economical manner. I also want to learn Japanese. But if I put all that on a list, I’ll realize it’s going to take two years, and I’ll just give up on the trip, and the list, and go watch Mr. Robot until Christmas. So I just wrote “TOKYO.”
Underneath “TOKYO” it says “THANKSGIVING PIES.” When Thanksgiving was still seven months off, I told my sister I would bring three homemade pies. I was very excited. I was going to do it all in one day and time lapse the entire process for my website. Now Thanksgiving is two weeks off, and I’ve decided store bought is good enough for my family. And I’m only gonna buy two. I’m making my mother bring the apple. Everyone is too stuffed by the time dessert comes out anyway, but that’s partly because whichever family member is hosting always starts serving up the pies no more than fifteen minutes after we finished dinner so we’ll all get out faster.
“E-BAY” – I’m gonna sell a bunch of stuff. Last year I made a few hundred books just peddling books and DVD’s. Putting your items up the day after Thanksgiving is the key. In the last week of November, you could put a sack of toenails up for auction and start a bidding war!
Also, be sure to use “LIKE NEW” in your description, no matter what, because most everything can be argued up to “LIKE NEW.” For example: “SACK OF TOENAILS! LIKE NEW!” Now, you go ahead and tell me how they’re not.
“EGGS” – More specifically “Learn how to cook eggs in a variety of fashions.”
“USED FURNITURE” – I was too vague with this. Now I don’t remember what I meant. Do I want to shop for used furniture? Do I want to get rid of used furniture? Is “Used Furniture” the title of some new ironic series on Hulu? If it is, I’ll probably never watch it. Hulu’s too confusing. I still can’t figure out how to get my Sim Family out of the living room. They just keep dancing, then sitting, then dancing, then sitting.
“TAKE SELF-DEFENSE CLASSES” – Shit, I can tell you right now this one won’t happen. Me in a karate studio learning how to balance on one foot with a bunch of fourth graders? True, the photos would kill on Instagram, but I’m not even sure how to say the word “Sensei.” And I’m too ashamed to ask anyone. I have the same problem with other words too: “oeuvre” “deus ex machina” “Les Miserables” and “Chipotle.”
“LEARN HOW TO TAP DANCE” - Oh, I was watching “Singing in the Rain” when I made this list. This isn’t gonna happen. I can’t even do a cartwheel. I’m erasing it now.
“READ THE BIBLE” – What was I inhaling when I made this list?
“LEARN HOW TO DO YOGA” – Did I even word this properly? I think people just say, “I’m going to yoga,” not “I’m going to go do yoga.” I have never taken yoga. Back in the eighties, if a television character said they were into yoga, the other characters would make fun of them. Those were the best times. To be honest, I’ve seen some of the positions you have to get into, and I’m terribly worried I’ll fart. I think it’s best for everyone if I skip learning yoga. Madonna might be disappointed, but she’s had enough go her way already.
“REORGANIZE THE KITCHEN” – What’s the fucking point? Anna Maria just puts it all back the way it was when she comes on Thursdays. Shit.
To sum up… I’d like to announce that I’ve reviewed my “List of Things I’m Going to do While I’m Not Working.” And it turns out the only ones I’m actually going to do are “TOKYO” “E-BAY” and “EGGS”
Of course, a trip to Tokyo costs a lot of money, and I’m not working, so that just leaves “E-BAY” and “EGGS.”
And I’ll come up with a way to get out of E-bay some other time
I should have just put “EAT OTHER HALF OF PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH” and left it at that. I’d be done with this stupid list by now.
Pumpkin pies are trickier than they deserve to be. You’ve got a to keep an eagle’s eye on them as they cook. A few too many minutes in the oven, and you’re chancing custard cracks. They don’t show up right away either; it’s not until after you’ve let the pie cool for a bit on your counter that they make their ignoble appearance. One minute, you’re looking at a shiny, smooth, buttery tan surface. The next thing you know, it’s face of a geriatric bloodhound.
This pie was for national television, so room for error was zero. It needed to not only look pretty – like “prop pie on a stove at an appliance store” pretty. But at the same time, Wayne Brady and Jonathan Magnum were going to eat it on camera in front of 200 audience members. So it needed to be the richest, most fragrant custard ever whipped up. My reputation was at stake.
So I recruited (begged) my sister, Jodi, a baking master from whom I’ve learned much. She introduced me to pie crust stencils. Have you ever seen a pie dotted across the surface with adorable little elm tree leaves and thought to yourself, “A delightful, holiday touch!” Well, good! That’s what you’re supposed to think.
Custard pies are likely to crack at least a little bit. You should not take it personally. But you need to be prepared. Leaf stencils can save the day! You can buy them at any kitchenware store, and also at most larger art supply stores. Or you can also just go into the yard, grab a leaf, set it on top the dough, and cut around it.
The browned butter in this recipe gives the pie a gentle hint of butterscotch that I think is perfect for autumn, for the Thanksgiving table, or when you need to make a good impression at the television show where you work.
Pop your leaves in separately, on a slightly greased, room temperature pan, at the same oven temperature you used for the pie. Pull them out when they begin to puff in the middle and brown around the edges. Baking time varies based on how big you’ve cut them and how many you have, so it’s best to just babysit them. They don’t take long.
This pie recipe, and the entire segment from the “Let’s Make a Deal” Thanksgiving episode where it appeared, follows after the jump below. I thought it all went quite well! And the pie makes a re-appearance at the end of the segment, so be sure to watch the entire thing, or just scrub to the last thirty seconds to watch a pie thief caught in the act.
Oh yeah, you get to see me too! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Photo: Listening To: “From Russia with Love” – John Barry, Posted 2012