Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small traditions

I recently saw a recipe for crock-pot chicken that is so simple you can't really even call it a recipe. Place a whole chicken, rinsed with the giblets removed, in the crock-pot. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Set it on low for 8 or 9 hours. The result is surprisingly delicious.

I've been trying to make at least one crock-pot meal a week. Usually it's enough for 2 or 3 suppers and takes some of the pressure off the early evening when the kids all seem to need attention. I can put an effort toward supper as I find time in the morning and some days it seems like that is the only thing I accomplished in the day.

But on the rare occasion, getting into the kitchen right away in the morning inspires me to stick around a while - maybe bake something or think more creatively about the rest of the day's food or even just tackle the pile of mail that seems to grow on the counter.

Today's easy crock-pot chicken, combined with the fall leaves drifting outside, led me to pumpkin. I was thinking pumpkin muffins or bread, but J was very excited about a pumpkin pie. The baby was sleeping, so we mixed up the dough for the pie crust and put it into the fridge. I really do enjoy baking with my kids, especially when they get to the age where they can independently stir.

The pie crust needed to chill, J needed a snack, and then the baby woke. After a short break, we cleaned the last bowl of tomatillos and made a sauce to be used with the chicken leftovers. Then he helped me make the pie filling, roll the crust, and get it all into the oven.

Fall has so many traditional foods. Foods that bring back memory after memory. J and I used the last bit of crust to make a handful of pie crust cookies. Another simple recipe - roll out the excess crust, spread on a little butter, top with cinnamon and sugar, cut and bake. The timing is tricky - they never finish if you are watching them and they always burn if you take your eyes away. We used the toaster oven this morning, just to be sure not to ruin them.

My mom makes pie crust cookies with her extra crust. On Sunday mornings or holidays the smell of all the good food cooking would keep me near the kitchen. Pie crust cookies were that little treat to whet your appetite and tide you over until the main event. Today J and I sat in the kitchen watching the leaves fall, talking about our upcoming visit to MN, and speculating on what Papa and R would think of the pie.

We used a deep dish pie pan today, I took one my mom was discarding, but typically there is too much pumpkin pie filling for a standard pie plate. It was always good to be near the kitchen when the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie came out of the oven because there was always a little custard cup of filling to share.

Our little family has had one Thanksgiving without relatives around. R was almost 4 and J was almost 1 and we were living in New York. We still planned the big feast. Papa went to run in that city's traditional Thanksgiving 5k and right after he left the power went out with the turkey cooking and the parade on TV. The outage was short, 15-20 minutes, and our dinner survived, but I recall that morning every time I open a can of pumpkin. R colored turkeys that I drew for her while we waited for the power. Eventually we made the pie and I shared the extra filling with her, smiling as she pretended to be a Rockette.

1 comment:

Nissa Nicole said...

I love this post. I could smell turkey cooking with a hint of Autumn when reading it.