Help me. I feel that I need a Twelve-Step program specifically geared to people who simply cannot keep themselves from making too many pies at Thanksgiving.
I don't have a huge crowd of eaters gathering at my father's table this year, so I don't really have any good excuse to make the five or so pies that I'm dreaming of for Thursday's dinner. Five pies for six eaters seems slightly excessive, right? I'd like to say that we have eight coming to Thanksgiving, as that would give me more leeway. Considering that the five-month-old twins will be dining on (organic) formula and rice cereal, I'm not sure I can get away with that one.
I know it just sort of looks like a study in brown, with fluffy clouds on top, but above is a plate showing samples of the three pies I made for Thanksgiving 2006 (and Thanksgiving 2005, and 2004, and so on), back to front: Souffléd Pumpkin Cognac Pie, Pure Maple Pecan Pie, and Toffee Apple Crumble Pie. They are all more or less my own inventions, and yes, I've been making them for years. This year I'm chafing at tradition a little, and have a nudging little feeling of wanting something new. But my brother loves that maple-pecan, and my sister-in-law craves pumpkin, and G and my dad both want apple.
The rest of Thanksgiving dinner presents no turmoil for me. I'm very happy to go with our tried-and-true menu of favorites: the crisp-skinned turkey, its gravy made from pan drippings and turkey broth, cornbread and sausage stuffing, cranberries made the way my mother always made them. I look forward to these things, and so do my family members. I might hesitate slightly between plain baked yams, and a lovely sweet potato purée, or whether or not to dress up the brussels sprouts in a new way. But for the most part, the savory menu is set.
I'm really struggling with the sweet table, however. I've been railing against the old favorites in my mind, and looking at new possibilities: A chocolate-espresso pecan pie featured in Fine Cooking magazine. Deb's (and well, The New York Times') gorgeous nutmeg-maple cream pie. The idea of pumpkin cheesecake laced with cognac and bedded in a ginger-pecan crust caught my fancy for a while -- I'd made one some years ago for a holiday party, and always wanted to make one again. But I always cave in to the traditionalists in my family, who want the same old, same old.
Even the apple pie presents some conflict -- both G and my father love apple pie best for Thanksgiving dessert, so there's certainly going to be one. At least one. But what kind? My dad wants the two-crust traditional, and while my husband loves that too, I think in his heart of hearts he really wants the crumble-topped kind. I swear to you that I'm fairly well tempted to make two apple pies...along with everything else.
Step one: We admitted we were powerless over pie...