As I said, on Thanksgiving I have few duties. I set the table, I buy the ornaments and I make dessert. Sometimes I don’t get to make dessert, but that is another story for another day.
This year Mr. Blandings was hunting for recipes for pumpkin creme brulee, but I intervened. “You know your mother really just wants pumpkin pie. I think we should make her a pumpkin pie.” “Will you make your pumpkin chiffon pie?” “Um. Sure. You know that recipe is a little wonky.”
The recipe comes from a book that I started during a period of passing interest in cooking during my girlhood. (My friend, Stu, is laughing at the misspelling of “abbreviations.” She had a front row seat to the year that immediately followed my tenure in a progressive school that found spelling irrelevant. Turns out it wasn’t.) Thank heavens for the abbreviations page as these are clearly incredibly obscure shorthands.
Mr. Blandings loves flipping through this book, “What in the world is Coke Salad?” Really, I have no idea. I have absolutely no memory of Coke Salad, though Grandmother Rassmussen’s Doughnuts and Five Cup Salad are crystal clear. “Seems you had a bit of a sweet tooth.” Not had, have. Still, there is not one savory dish in the book.
Both my grandmother and my mother made Nana’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. When I made it for the first time as an adult, I was skeptical that my mother actually made this recipe. It calls for the use of a double boiler. I have no recollection of my mother ever using anything as sophisticated as a double boiler. Still, I forged ahead.
There are all kinds of weird things about this recipe. It calls for three egg whites, but later refers to beating the yolks. I have to guess a little. Oddly, the pie turns out great.
Mr. Blandings is particularly charmed by my review at the bottom of the recipe, “Delicious!!!!!!!” “Seven exclamation points. You must have really liked it.”
Which reminded me of my copy of Dorothy Rogers’s The House in My Head. The book is a wonderful, well, not peek, but full-on expose of a couple building a very thoughtful house. Even if the house they built is not your style, the effort that went into it will garner your respect.
At the back of the book is a collection of Rogers’s recipes. In my copy, the book’s original owner has written notes on the recipes. “This is perfectly elegant prepared and served in fresh tomato shells.” “The flavor is so mild and delicate, the sauce kills it.” “This had a rare and tangy flavor we both liked.”
Charmingly, I feel like Mrs. Sandy was writing these notes for me. Not the notes she has made of substitutions and how to reduce the recipe, not the cook’s tricks, but these reviews feel like something she was providing for the cook who came next. For me. These are absolutely delicious.