Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Little Taste of Home

There's something great about figuring out how to make a favourite food when the way you usually make it isn't available. Now I can't claim that I worked it out all by myself, I got some help from a friend back home who's parents have moved back to Australia after spending 20ish years in Canada.

Pumpkin pie, mmm! It's not homemade pumpkin pie unless it has stab marks in the middle!

Now, normally most people would buy a can of pumpkin pie mix, frozen pie shells and call it a day (despite the suggestions on the can of pumpkin I ALWAYS added spices, eggs and condensed milk). First of all, canned pumpkin doesn't even exist here. Pumpkin (or what we would call squash in Canada) here is mainly a dinner food that is either roasted, steamed or made into soup. It's generally not made into dessert. Secondly, big orange sugar pumpkins (the kind we make into jack-o-lanterns) don't exist here either. There's all sorts of different varieties beyond butternut, spaghetti and acorn (which I haven't seen here). There's Queensland Blue, Jarrahdale and Kent just to name three (I think those are the three major ones). To top all of that off, frozen pie shells don't exist either (and neither does tenderflake). Frozen pastry comes in sheets. I had to use two sheets for each pie and then fiddle with them and cut them so they fit. Another thing to make this even more interesting, it seems traditional pie pans are hard to find and people have tart pans instead (sloping sides vs straight sides).

So, I had been brainstorming pumpkin pie methods for a few days and finally posted on Facebook that I had been craving pumpkin pie and wasn't sure how to go about making it from scratch. Turns out it was a good idea for me to do that since my friend chimed in with a wealth of information from her mum. Made my search for ingredients a billion times easier and saved me a bit of heartache because I was planning on using butternut squash when a Queensland Blue or Jarrahdale pumpkin is better suited.

So, I sourced all my ingredients and set to work. I baked my giant chunks of pumpkin in the oven on a cookie sheet. I put a loaf pan of water in between the two chunks and covered the whole thing in foil and just baked the pumpkin till it was soft.
Queensland blue pumpkin is a great, dense pumpkin and isn't stringy or watery. Definitely perfect for pies. So after I scooped it all out of the shell, I let it cool and then blended it up with the rest of the ingredients. Simple as that, there was nothing complicated or scary with doing it that way - sure it took longer than just cracking open a can but you don't miss canned pumpkin at all (I mean, if anything the pie tastes better).

The pastry was a little fiddly and if I had more counter space and a rolling pin I would have made my own pastry. I'm not too thrilled with the frozen sheets and they turn out a little hard when they're baked (also, they're not as sweet as ones from home which is typical for a lot of things - Australian's don't like things as sweet as we do).

After letting the pie sit in the fridge overnight (pumpkin pie is 200% improved by sitting overnight in the fridge), I had the first piece this morning and it was the perfect breakfast mmm! I'm pretty well known for eating "weird" things for breakfast (ie: non breakfast foods) but really, there's nothing better (especially after thanksgiving) than a piece of leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast mmmm!

I'm so happy I was able to recreate this little piece of home. I'm taking one of the pies to our regular Sunday family dinner tonight. We'll see what everyone else thinks!

Temperature: +10C
Sunrise: 7:36am
Sunset: 5:13pm


Jo said...

So, pie pans would also be good for a care package?

I don't remember if you addressed this before - if milk tastes different, does chocolate as well? What about lattes?

Megan said...

Pie pans definitely. It seems they do more tarts than pies. They only have canned apples for pies not like at home where there's all sorts of different pie fillings
I couldn't even see aluminum/disposable pans at the grocery store either.

I think it depends on the quality of the chocolate you buy. Cheap chocolate tastes bad (as it usually does anywhere) but we've been buying those nice Cadbury bars of chocolate and those are good. I think some of the cheap chocolates have some anti-melting thing added (or at least that's what I've heard) so that's what makes it taste weird (waxy/grainy).
I don't remember if I answered the milk question... I don't really drink milk by itself and haven't for years so I can't really tell if it tastes vastly different.

toni in florida said...

Mmmmm, pumpkin pie...! How can anyone not love it?? Can you received canned pumpkin there? Can we ship it to you?

Megan said...

I don't know if canned pumpkin is allowed... Now that I know what type of fresh pumpkin to buy it's not that big of a deal now (and it's probably better for you!).

Megan said...

Is it just me or is my reply to Jo not showing up?

toni in florida said...

It's you. The reply is definitely visible.

Megan said...

It's here now. It wasn't before... Weird! I'm glad it didn't disappear because it was a long reply!