Time for pie and gratitude

Did you take me up on the recent challenge to keep a list of everything you’re grateful for? If so, have you found it changing your perspective about the blessings and disappointments in your life? I hope you’ll continue to document your personal gratitude list long after tomorrow comes and goes.

I’ve been trying to list just one thing on Facebook that I’m grateful for each day, but I find myself trying to weave together multiple things into one, because I have trouble picking just one thing each day.

Here’s just one thing I wanted to share with you that I’m most thankful for at Thanksgiving every year:

Vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods

Yes, that’s right: vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods, a Thanksgiving treat I order from their bakery almost every year.

I’m not a vegan, but I do have a food allergy that keeps me from eating regular bakery items. I didn’t learn of this allergy until one November about ten years ago. I don’t remember the exact year, but I do remember the exact month, because my thoughts had already turned to the anticipation of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. (For the record, my mother makes the best pumpkin pie in the whole world, and if I could only pick one food to have for Thanksgiving dinner, it would be her pumpkin pie.)

One of the initial horrifying realizations of learning about my allergy was that pumpkin pie was off my plate forever. Or so I thought.

I bought a vegan cookbook that year and made my first ever vegan pumpkin pie. It was, um, not so good.

Then the next year, I happened upon delicious vegan pumpkin pies at Whole Foods a few days before Thanksgiving. Hallelujah! I was jubilant over a simple pie. For several years in a row, I ordered one from the bakery there, just to ensure that I would have pie at Thanksgiving.

Two years ago, though, I thought I’d dust off my baking skills, inadequate as they usually are, and try a pumpkin cheesecake recipe I had found in Real Simple magazine (to be fair to the magazine, it was a recipe in an ad for cream cheese). It called for eggs, but I had discovered egg replacer, and so I forged ahead, crushing the ginger snaps for the crust and happily mixing the other ingredients and putting the whole thing in a spring-form pan in the oven.

Now, I had never used a spring-form pan before, and I really didn’t know what I was doing, but apparently you’re supposed to put another pan under the spring-form pan. The recipe could have been more helpful by telling me that part.

Anyway, I cleaned up the kitchen and noticed that it seemed kind of hazy, like when your eyes fog over because you’re so tired. I asked my husband if it was just my eyes. And with his answer of “no” came the realization that there was smoke coming from the oven. The oven that held my carefully prepared pumpkin cheesecake with egg replacer. The oven that poured out thicker smoke and incredible heat when I opened its door to determine that, yes, there was a serious smoke problem coming from the oven.

I slammed the oven door and turned it off, and ran to open windows and doors before the smoke detectors starting their ear-piercing protests.

I decided to leave the oven door closed so that actual fire might not start and so the oven would cool, even if it meant the cheesecake didn’t survive. The cheesecake spent the night in the oven but actually looked pretty good the next morning.

So I served it for Thanksgiving dinner with full disclosure about its difficult origin. My dad said it was the best egg-free dessert he’d ever had. It did have this kind of nice smoky flavor to it, not that I’d ever recommend trying that method to achieve the flavor.

But the next year, I went back to buying vegan pumpkin pies at Whole Foods. I picked up the one in the picture just yesterday, and as I left the store, I felt like I was carrying a great treasure. I don’t know why it means so much, but I’m so grateful for Whole Foods’ vegan pumpkin pie.

I’m grateful to you, my readers, too. If you have a fun set-the-oven-almost-on-fire story or other cooking mishap that you’d like to share, I’d love to know that I’m not alone in my cooking challenges. I’d also love to hear what your one must-have Thanksgiving dish is. Maybe for a few of you out there, it’s also vegan pumpkin pie?

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 thoughts on “Time for pie and gratitude

  1. Oh, I have plenty of stories about my family and baking/cooking disasters. One year my grandmother got her thumb caught in the turkey. You know that wire piece that holds the legs together? Somehow, she got her thumb in there with the turkey leg. She started yelling “Help, help.” My brother and I looked up and saw that she had the turkey suspended in the air by one thumb. We were probably about 7 and 9 years old, so we did what kids do – burst out laughing. It took us several minutes to realize that this was a painful condition and actually get around to helping her disentangle herself from the turkey.
    One year we set the oven on fire while reheating mashed potatoes.
    We baked a spoon in a turkey by accident.
    My mom made a mistake with the time bake settings and cooked a turkey all night. It was dried out as a rock the next morning.
    As a general rule around my parent’s house, we say no bread is ready until the fire alarm goes off.

    Since getting married, Rob and I have actually started using these things called recipes. It’s amazing. They dramatically cut down the number of misadventures we’ve had. But not eliminated them… 🙂

    • What great Thanksgiving memories! I can only imagine your grandmother’s reaction at the two of you laughing while she called for help, pinned to the turkey. Recipes definitely help with misadventures, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has them. I hope your Thanksgiving this year was free of smoke alarms, pierced thumbs and hard-baked kitchenware.

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