Simple Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie and wanted to learn to make it, but my first attempt four or so years ago left much to be desired. I’d used whole wheat flour for the crust and tried to roll it out with an empty wine bottle (since I didn’t have a rolling pin). The crust was lumpy and thick. I think I may have cried about it.

That Christmas my relatives bought me all of the pie crust-making supplies, but I was still too intimidated to try again. Plus, I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t REALLY making the pie from scratch unless I roasted a fresh pumpkin myself, which is a pretty time-consuming endeavor for a full-time office mouse, casual baker like myself.

This fall I decided it was finally time to try again. I embraced canned pumpkin as the only thing that (for me) was going to get the job done and even found a super simple, no-roll pie crust after spending all of 45 seconds on Pinterest.

Finding a recipe for filling that didn’t call for evaporated milk was a little more challenging. (I don’t keep evaporated milk in my cabinets and really didn’t want either me or my husband to go to the store to fetch some.) Eventually I found an evaporated-milk-free recipe—super yum!

I had a bunch of filling left over after pouring it into my pie crust and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I whipped up another two batches of pie crust (really, it was that easy to make: this didn’t feel like a huge hassle) and experimented with cupcake-sized pumpkin pies. They aren’t as tasty as the full-size thing (the crust-to-filling ratio is suboptimal), but they’re pretty cute and were worth the extra effort.

I think I might even offer to make the pies for Thanksgiving this year. So easy! So good!

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Sweet Imperfectionism

I had always thought of myself as a perfectionist but realized this weekend that I’m actually not. I was reading a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (If these sound tantalizing to you, please make them: you won’t be disappointed!), which suggested that perfectionists ought to pipe the dough into circular molds for “picture perfect” cookies.

I chuckled to myself. What a hassle! Piping?? Did I want to make the cookies, or did I want to daydream about how beautiful my cookies might be if I could ever summon the willpower to

  1. purchase piping supplies, and then
  2. bother learning how to use them?

This was an easy decision, and my very picture-imperfect (but totally delicious) cookies are featured at the top of this post.

Anyway, the experience led me to think some about why I’d considered myself a perfectionist to begin with. I think it has to do with fear—fear of the judgement of others, as well as the fear of having to face the hard truth that I might not be as good at some things as I’ve imagined myself to be.

I’ve never struggled with perfectionism in baking because it’s never something I’ve professed myself to be good at—even though it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a teenager. I’ve always managed to laugh at my cakes that crumble straight out of the pan, my too-flat cookies, and my muffins that adhere to their wrappings. My baking philosophy: If it tastes good, no big deal, right? That’s the POINT of baking.

But with other things—improving my house, releasing a song into the world, working on a novel—I get so hung up on my idea of how good it “ought to” turn out (because I have professed myself to be a “creative” person), that I rarely get around doing to those things. Even though they’re supposed to (so says imagination) be the things I’m “good at.”

I’m not going to make any declarations today about how I’m going to translate the picture-imperfect cookies lesson to other areas of my life, but it’s something I plan on letting simmer in my brain. And when I notice perfectionism rearing her shrill-voiced head, I hope to start asking myself, “What is it that you’re afraid of here?”