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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

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desmoinesdem: "Easy Pumpkin Pie - Two Variations"

Yummy times 2

Thanks to demoinesdem for these great recipes - keep the food posts comin' - THANKS DEM!

It's been a very cold and snowy winter here in Iowa, and I've been baking more than usual. Normally I cook savory food; baking is not my thing. But these recipes are easy if you don't make the pie crust from scratch, and pumpkin pie has more nutritional value than most desserts.

These recipes make two pies each. You could halve them and make just one pie, but it's really no more work to make two, and wouldn't your friends or co-workers love to be surprised one day when you bring in an extra home-made pumpkin pie?

I use canned pumpkin or butternut squash most of the time. If you want to use fresh, cut the pumpkin or winter squash in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, and bake face down at 350 degrees F for about an hour until done. Scoop out the flesh, mash and PRESS OUT AS MUCH WATER AS YOU CAN. If you don't, the pie will be watery. What bugs me about using fresh pumpkin is how much work it is to press out enough water. Canned is easy and tastes good.

First, I'll give you my farmer friend's traditional family recipe. She makes pie crust from scratch using lard—I didn't even bother getting those instructions from her, because I knew I was never going to do it. So, if you want to make your own crust, pick a recipe you like and either press the crust into the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch glass pan or into two pie dishes.

3 cups mashed pumpkin or winter squash
1 ½ cups brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
3 cups evaporated milk or cream
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. My friend mixes the spices with the sugar first so they don't clump in the liquid, but I haven't found that necessary—just a little extra whisking takes care of any clumps.

Pour into two pie shells or a 9 by 13-inch glass dish with crust on the bottom.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake until set (this takes about another hour in my oven, but start checking after 45 minutes or so).

Cool, then refrigerate. The pie tastes best after it has been chilled.

Now, this recipe is pretty good, but there are a few problems. First, that's an awful lot of fat and sugar.

Second, if you use canned pumpkin, you'll end up with part of a can unused, wondering what you can do with it. Ditto if you buy a quart of cream and end up with an extra cup spoiling in your refrigerator.

Third, where is the cardamom? No sweet dish involving winter squash or pumpkin should be without ground cardamom, in my opinion (I substitute anywhere dessert recipes call for allspice or nutmeg).

After some tinkering, here is my solution. It has half the sugar, less cream and more pumpkin, so you get more vitamins. You can buy one pint of cream and use it all, or a quart and make this recipe twice in one week. If you buy frozen pie crust, as I do, this will fill two 9-inch shells very full. Be careful when transferring to the oven! If you want to reduce the sugar but not the cream, go ahead and use 3 cups of cream, but then you'll have some extra pie filling to bake in a little greased casserole dish alongside the pies.

Desmoinesdem's super-easy, somewhat healthy pumpkin pie

2 cans pumpkin or winter squash
¾ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups cream
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (a little goes a long way)
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix ingredients in large bowl with whisk. This takes only a few minutes, even with my four-year-old "helping" me stir.

Pour into two frozen pie shells (you do not need to defrost first). Transfer carefully to oven rack so the filling doesn't spill out.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake for another hour or so, until set. Depending on your oven, the pies may need less time at 350.

Cool, refrigerate, and enjoy.

- posted by demoinesdem

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