Happy Thanksgiving!

Canadians are giving thanks this weekend. In honour of the occasion, I ceremoniously picked the first ripe pumpkin from my garden and cooked it like I always do. Time to dig out Mom’s old pumpkin pie recipe and roast some pumpkin seeds!

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Pastry for 9″ pie
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
(preferably fresh, but canned will do)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 heaping tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
Additional nutmeg for garnish
Whipped cream (optional)

Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Pour into pie crust and sprinkle with additional nutmeg. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour. Cool completely and serve with whipped cream if desired.

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (about what you get from 1 small pie pumpkin)
1 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 drop hot pepper sauce (more if you like it spicier)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Remove large chunks of pumpkin flesh from the seeds. Leaving small traces of pumpkin is ok; it adds flavour to the seeds. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin seeds and melted butter. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spread seeds evenly over the foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 mins. until crispy. Watch them carefully so the seeds don’t burn. You’ll know they are done when the sugary mixture on the foil turns brown. If it turns black, you’ve baked them too long.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet (if you can resist eating them all when they’re warm and crunchy from the oven). Savour the sweet and salty flavours—the perfect balance. Then say to yourself, “See, this is why you were wise to choose a real pumpkin for your pie this year, instead of that canned nonsense.”

In the unlikely event of leftovers, store roasted completely cooled pumpkin seeds in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Asian Meets German Cooking

Eager to try the Thai seasoning I bought at an Epicure party recently, I went to their website for inspiration and found a delectable-looking pineapple glazed pork chop recipe. It called for their Cuban seasoning, but I thought, why not try it with Thai instead? A spicy-sweet blend of ginger, lemongrass, and chili flakes would go well with pineapple, would it not? The answer is yes, yes it does.

You can find the original recipe here. Below is my tweaked version, which I served with creamy scalloped potatoes like Grandma used to make (that recipe also follows). The flavours complemented each other surprisingly well for being from such dissimilar cultural backgrounds.

Of course, you could serve these pork chops with rice instead. I just happened to be in the mood for some comfort food, and what could be more comforting than scalloped potatoes on a cold winter night? Besides, this way your taste buds get to take a little trip around the world, all in one plate!

Pineapple Thai Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops
1 can (19 oz.) pineapple rings
1 1/2 tsp. Epicure’s Thai seasoning (see note below)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Mix Thai seasoning with 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice. Pour over pork chops and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Cut pineapple rings into large chunks. Set aside with remaining juice.

In a large nonstick skillet, brown pork chops in oil on one side. Turn and add the remaining pineapple juice and pineapple chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until pork is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Serves 4.

NOTE: You could also try another spicy-sweet gingery seasoning blend, such as Club House’s Thai One-Step Blend. You’ll find this in the spice aisle at the grocery store. The results may be slightly different, but feel free to experiment as I did!

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

4 tbsp. butter or margarine
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 rounded teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
2 cups milk
6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, pepper, and chicken bouillon. Add milk. Stir constantly until boiling. Remove from heat.

Layer half the potatoes and onions in a 2.5 quart casserole dish. Pour half the sauce over. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions on top. Cover with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more or until potatoes are tender. Serves 6.