Recipes: Two Pies and ‘Bar Food’

For Turkey Day this year I provided three dishes: my traditional apple and pumpkin pies and the newcomer, pickled beets and eggs.

For the pumpkin pie, I usually just make the one found on the back of the can that relies on evaporated milk for its custard. It’s easy and delicious. But J. mentioned that he really doesn’t like pumpkin pie and that was a challenge for me to make the pumpkin pies of my youth: Irma’s (Joy of Cooking) double-boiler cooked pie. Alas, I couldn’t find my copy! Grumbling, I went to do my research and round what looked like an acceptable substitute. And since I didn’t want to make a two-crust apple pie, I chose to make a Dutch Apple Pie — which has a streusel topping instead of another crust.

Well, they did not turn out the way I wanted. The crusts were incredibly inconsistent in texture (even though I used the same exact recipe) and were barely sufficient to cover the pie pan and overlap. The filings required about 50% more effort than I expected/planned, and both recipes took about 50% longer to complete than I planned.

Everyone said they tasted good, and I mostly concurred. But not good enough to justify the effort or time.

On a brighter note, however, the Pickled Beets and Eggs turned out fantastic. Deep purply-pink and just the right balance of tart and sweet. I’ve always known this as ‘bar food’ from my Irish/working class ancestors. J’s family served it at the table on Tday and I can see why. Its a color not normally seen on the groaning board, and the flavor was deliciously different from the sweet, bread, or salty flavors usually found on the table.

Pickled Beets and Eggs

4-6 fresh beets, stems and leaves removed
6 eggs
Cider vinegar (or white)

Wash beets, using a brush to really scrub the dirt off. Place in a large heavy pan and cover with water. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain, reserving the beet water. Once cooled so you can handle them, use a paper towel to slide the skin off (the towel gives you a little extra friction and keeps your fingers from turning pink). Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, hard boil the eggs. Place eggs in a single layer in a pan with enough cold water to cover them completely. Bring the water to a boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid, and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Hold eggs under cold running water to cool quickly; peel.

Place beets and eggs into a non-metallic/non-plastic container (a large glass canning jar works great). To the reserved beet juice, add 1 c vinegar, 1 Tbl sugar, 1 clove garlic, 3 whole peppercorns, 3 whole allspice berries (you may substitute 3 whole clove buds) and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour to cover beets and eggs (make sure the solids end up with them). Refrigerate.

Shake jar gently twice a day to make sure the eggs dye evenly. Serve after at least 24 hours, 48 is better.


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