Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pie for Breakfast

We cooked together this morning, in a kitchen with a counter the size of a smallish cutting board. Sarah fried bacon on the stovetop, turning each slice with chopsticks until it reached the superbly-crisp-but-not-quite-burnt stage that our son prefers.

Then she used the leftover cubes of Italian bread from last night's dinner of fondue to make morsels of French toast, scented with cinnamon and served with maple syrup from our neighbor's trees. They were very good. So good in fact, and so appealing on the plate, that we predicted that someone would soon be offering them on a menu—or in a frozen-food aisle.

I carried a bowl of pumpkin to the table, a reminder of a warm October afternoon and our brother-in-law Alex Maclennan's generosity. (He grows them for market, along with corn, raspberries, and asparagus.)

We'd roasted the pumpkin, pureed the yellow-orange flesh in a food processor, and frozen it in two-cup batches.

This bowl had been defrosting in the refrigerator, in close proximity to a bottle of leftover eggnog, another gift, from Sarah's brother John. He and his wife make a much-admired organic cheese called Tarentaise. But their eggnog is not half bad either.

So this morning's breakfast represented a complicated convergence of good fortune, culminating in this recipe (with a nod to Libby's, in the can). The pie is fragrant, creamy, not too sweet, and intensely satisfying, with or without ice cream.

Pumpkin Eggnog Pie

one-half cup sugar
one-quarter teaspoon salt
one teaspoon cinnamon
one-half teaspoon ginger
one-quarter teaspoon cloves
two eggs
two cups pureed pumpkin
one and one-half cups eggnog

one waxed-paper package of graham crackers
seven tablespoons butter

Use your fingers to crush the graham crackers inside the package (if the paper seems fragile, dump the crackers into a sturdier bag first). Melt the butter, then mix with the crumbs and press firmly into a nine-inch pie pan.

Mix the spices with the sugar and the salt. Beat the eggs, then add the eggnog and beat some more. Stir in the sugar and spices, and finally the pumpkin.

Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for another 45 minutes, or until a knife in the center of the pie comes out clean.

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