|Trust me, I'm just as surprised as the next guy.|
Here at the DayLee Fix I pride myself on setting the bar low. My shorties' expectations correlate with my efforts. Usually. They know better than to ask for too much. Usually.
On occasion, however, they throw out a request that leaves me questioning once again:
"Should I shoot up my face with Botox to control my maniacal expressions?"
Pro: Would help out in my professional life for those times when I'm able to keep my cake hole shut but my eyebrows betray me.
Con: Couldn't silently give my kids "the look" that has thus far kept me from having to beat the daylights out of them at the Walmart.
Last week, Clayton chose a day that I was knee-deep in my own mucous and wishing for death to depart from their usual cold cereal or untoasted pop tart breakfast. He wanted pancakes and had zero problem seeing through my red and watery eyes and waited patiently for me to finish my coughing jag to approach me with the Bisquick box.
"Are you kidding me right now?"
"Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. FINE. Even though I am DYING, but nevermind that, I'm happy to cater to your every whim."
"Thanks mom, you're the best."
He continued his brown nosing as he shoved those fluffy sticky stacks into his face.
"These are the best pancakes I've ever had in my entire life. They're perfect."
He knows. He knows that even if they taste like the inside of his shoe, he better just slather on another layer of shut the hell up and gag it down and pretend he likes it because I might cook with love, but my secret ingredients are guilt and bitterness.
I thought the pancakes would buy me a week of reverting back to their being happy with frozen Eggo waffles and chicken nuggets.
Sunday, which Esten declared as "official relax and no pants day", Clayton casually approached me with a can of pumpkin guts from the baking cabinet.
|Our Inspiration Station, courtesy of Esten (E-Money$)|
"Hey mom, can you make a pumpkin pie today?"
WTF? It's less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, and we don't even have any whipped cream, and this kid couldn't care less.
So I give you my recipe for:
Pumpkin Pie for Mediocre Mothers.
Step 2: Never get all the ingredients out at once. I prefer instead to just jump to the instructions, and then refer back to the measurements. For example:
One can of evaporated milk
Locate your evaporated milk. Realize that you have three cans of sweetened condensed milk and zero cans of evaporated milk. Decide to use regular milk instead.
Carefully measure dump however much looks good because there's probably some kind of replacement/conversion information out there but you are just fresh out of f*cks to give.
One can of Pumpkin Guts
Locate your can of pumpkin guts. You know right where this is because it's the thing Clayton has been shoving in your face all morning asking you "when you're going to make the pie". Realize that the can you have came from Costco and is bigger than the recipe calls for.
Carefully measure dump however much looks good because you don't want to reach into the utensil drawer for a measuring cup because you'll be pissed if you jab yourself with the corncob holders again like last time AND you have to wash something when you're done.
Butter and Shortening
These go in the freezer. Don't ask why. Remember vaguely that your grandma who kicked ass at pie crust emphasized that everything had to be cold. Which is weird. But her pie was good, so you do it.
Locate the vodka. This shouldn't be difficult, but you find it daunting to sift through the 87 bottles of foo-foo flavored vodka in the liquor cabinet to find the one "plain ol' vodka" bottle. Realize that it is really spendy vodka. Remember that for the last cup of tea you made to burn the phlegm out of your face you couldn't find "plain ol' whiskey" either, only an expensive and gift-worthy brand. Realize that this probably means you are now officially an adult.
Carefully measure dump however much looks good into a small cup and have your kid put that in the freezer with the butter and the shortening.
Get into a fight with your kid who doesn't want alcohol in his pie. Tell him if he's going to be obstructive he can get out of your kitchen or you'll tell him how bacon gets made.
Be secretly surprised that you actually have eggs. Be secretly resentful because eggs are the one thing that never let you down when you have to say, "Sorry, I can't make that, we're out of eggs."
Step 3: [Netflix and] Chill the dough for a while, I don't know how long. Long enough for a documentary or three episodes of Hoarding: Buried Alive. Long enough to fight with your kid about why you're not just "continuing to make the pie". Tell him you're not going to touch the pie again until ToddlerBandit takes a nap and if he continues yapping about it and keeping him from going to sleep, then it might just be never.
Step 4: Roll out the dough. Maybe wipe the encrusted cocoa pebble residue off the counter first, or not. Whatever. It doesn't matter how thin or thick you roll it out, there's no way it's going to do what you want it to anyway and it will all fall apart.
Step 5: Transfer dough to pie pan. Realize you do not own a pie pan. Shit. Well that would have been a good thing to remember before you committed to making A PIE. Don't panic. You own 39 round cake pans. Just use one of those because you are fresh out of f*cks to give.
Smooth the crust down evenly apply the crust to the pan in a patchwork manner to create a functional container for the pie juice. Smash remaining scraps around the edge all willy-nilly for a rustic feel.
Step 6: Fill the crust with the liquid mix. Feel like something's missing, like you should have prebaked the crust like you do with the bottom crust of your chicken pot pie. Feel like they're punking you, but do it anyway. It will either turn out or it will not. This is how you learn to "move on" in life.
Step 7: Bake. Know that the instructions will not match your oven. For example, the recipe I followed said to bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then to turn it down to 350 and bake for another 40-50 minutes. I have a convection oven that is the devil, and ended up baking at 425 for 15 minutes and convinced it was going to burn, turned it down to 350 for 30 minutes. Notice how filthy your oven is. Vow to clean it (once it cools) but know in your heart that you will not.
Step 8: Fight with your kid about the fact that the pie has to cool before he can eat it. For like two hours. "No, you can't have any at dinner. Maybe when we get back from hockey. Keep on and maybe you won't get any at all tonight. Maybe I'll throw it in the trash." Etcetera.
Step 9: Serve your pie to your children, issuing your usual warning: "Now then. I don't care what this tastes like, you're eating it and I want zero complaints." Watch them devour it. Hear them ask for seconds. And thirds. Be unsure whether they really like it or whether they know they turned your guilt dial up to ten and they're making sure you don't flat out refuse to cook anything for them in the future. Be secretly pleased that you banged out a half-assed recipe that worked. Forget half of what you did and which pin it was, and know that you'll never be able to replicate it again.
Clean your cake pan let your cake pan soak overnight...there's less scrubbing. Especially if your husband happens to get to the dishes before you do.