Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Sunday, October 13, 2013

*REAL* Pumpkin Pie

Almost as good as *REAL* science.  (Haha).  A huge, huge thanks all of you who posted my blog entry on Vaccination.  It's had well over 100,000 hits, and that doesn't include my own hits for responding to the gazillion comments it continues to receive.  Some of the commenters said they'd been on the fence and my entry convinced them to vaccinate.  Others said they now feel more confident explaining to their friends why they do vaccinate.  One person said I was too snarky for her tastes - who me? - but it took a little snark (and credential touting) to go viral.  My greatest hope is that it contributes, in some small way, to changing the tone of our national discussion.  This isn't an issue on which both sides are equally deserving of credence; it's not an issue we can just chalk up to "personal choice."  And it's an issue that affects all of us.  As much as we shouldn't resort to name-calling or other unproductive means of discourse, we do need to take a firm tone - a tone that doesn't include tolerance for false science and dangerous choices.  Friends don't let friends fail to vaccinate.

So anyway, onto less controversial matters.  Huge shout-out to my BFF Hillary for advising me to make real pumpkin pie.  Not only was it a super fun autumn activity for my toddler, but the final result is just heavenly.  Especially if you think you don't like pumpkin pie... but you "give it another chance" every year wanting to like it since it's so traditional and classic... give this recipe a shot.  Fresh roasted pumpkin tastes nothing like what you get out of can (and I did a side-by-side taste test of just the purees).  If you enjoy baking and/or if you're out to fill your children's autumn with all the seasonal magic you can, this is a project worth doing.

Autumn on your plate!

First, you will need to get a 4-6 pound "sugar" or "baking" pumpkin.  My son loooOOOoooved picking this out at the store, and we had gorgeous fall weather and foliage for our walk to and from.

So much fun picking out a "sugar" pumpkin!

Since you're going to all the trouble, might as well err on the big side.  Leftover pumpkin puree freezes well and is great to have on hand.  We used ours to make The Pioneer Woman's Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Freeze the leftover puree and use it all season long in all your other favorite pumpkin recipes!

These are The Pioneer Woman's Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting.

But back to the pie story.  I let the pumpkin "hang around" for a few days because it made such a great toy for my son.  He carried it around everywhere, even slept with it at night.  He'd try to get "tools" out and tell me he was "making his pumpkin pie."  So fun.





When the time comes, you'll need to slice the pumpkin in half the long way, remove the seeds and pulp, and roast it.  To roast, just sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and put the halves flesh-down on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a paring knife can easily be inserted into and removed from the pumpkin, in various places.  Let it cool until it's manageable (about an hour).  Then scoop out the flesh and run it through a food processor.  Voila:  Your own home made roasted pumpkin puree!


Slice in half the long way, and remove seeds and pulp.

You can also toast the pumpkin seeds, if you like.
Picking the seeds out is really fun for kids, and will occupy them for awhile!
Once you have your pumpkin puree, you're ready to get baking.  I used Alton Brown's recipe but I sort of guesstimated the quantities since I can't measure ounces at home.

CRUST:

6 ounces gingrsnap cookies (I used about 1.5 cups of crumbs)
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger (spice section)
4 tbsp melted butter

FILLING:

16 ounces of pumpkin puree (I used 2 cups)
1 cup cream (half and half)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
Whipped cream to top

For the crust, pulverize the cookies with either a food processor or a mortar and pestle.  Add the sugar and ginger, either by whisk or in the same food processor.  Whisk in butter.  Press into pie dish.  It's okay if it only covers the bottom - mine did.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  

Meanwhile, heat the pumpkin puree in a saucepan.  The recipe calls for simmering until it thickens but I didn't bother since my puree was fairly thick and not really simmerable.  Add the cream, nutmeg, and salt and simmer a little more.  

In a separate bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, and egg yolk.  Add the pumpkin/cream mixture slowly and whisk until combined.  Pour into pie crust.  It will be pretty runny.  

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until the sides are set but the middle still jiggles a little when shaken.  I believe I baked for an hour.  Remove and cool for at least 3 hours, or put right into the fridge.

*Homemade whipped cream can't be beat.  If you're so inclined, all you do is put heavy whipping cream in your Kitchenaid blender and use the whisk attachment.  Add a tsp or so of vanilla and powdered sugar to taste.  Presto.    

SO.  GOOD.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Designer Baby on a Budget! 10 Steps.

When my husband and I decided to move out to Boston for his medical residency and fellowship, we had lots of costs to add up.  The cost of living in Boston, the cost of giving up my legal job before I had children, and the cost of foregoing PSTP programs which are basically short-tracked medical residencies for people like my husband who plan on primarily doing medical research rather than practicing medicine.

We added up those costs and concluded that given our combined student debt, we couldn't afford it.  But since obstacles are the kind of thing that only further inspire my husband, you can bet I'm writing this blog from Boston.  We've given up a lot of things - we only just got smartphones last week (and only because we found one with an unlimited data plan for $20/month), we only have one car, and we live as a family of four in a 2-bedroom apartment.  But one thing I refuse to give up is getting my hands on the absolute sweetest, highest quality clothes I can to dress my kids.  I just love it and thankfully I've been able to figure out a system that enables me to get some pretty good stuff without spending a ton of money.  Here are my tips!
  1. Buy High-End Only, and Only Known Brands.  I know; sounds too good to be true.  But it's not!  If you buy high end you'll be able to resell, either on Ebay or perhaps on a local list serve.  Baby clothing actually can be an investment.  At least sort of.  Bear with me...
  2. Matchy-Matchy.  Go ahead and get the matching pants, socks, tights, or headband.  Calm your racing heartbeat by repeating after me:  "Resale value... Resale value... Resale value..."
  3. Keep It Clean.  This part is kind of a pain, but it's worth it to me for the daily enjoyment I take in dressing my children.  We take our nice outfits off at meal times or we cover them with a "yucky sweatshirt" instead of just a bib. If we do get a stain, I've found that Resolve Max cannot be beat - I've even been able to use it on really old stains that have already been washed multiple times(!!).  Sometimes I combine it with Shout and if the clothing is white, also with bleach.  Even the tiniest stain will pretty much obliterate resale value.  Using all these chemicals kinda freaks me out... way more than vaccines do, that's for sure!  I try to double-rinse when I can.  Oh and part of "keeping it clean" is keeping it in good shape.  I dry for 15-20 minutes for wrinkles and then hang to dry the rest of the way.
  4. Buy On Sale Only.  Of course.  Stores like Gymboree and Hanna Andersson are playing all of us.  They're out to capture not just one market but all the markets, and they do this by setting up various hurdles for you to get to the best price.  They know that the truly wealthy and the gift-buyers won't bother with sales, so they inflate the "full price" to something just shy of outrageous.  They know too that the "comfortable" will try to find a sale, or will be more willing to buy if there is a sale, so they have sales.  But they also want to capture the poorer masses if they can... WITHOUT making their lowest price easily available to those who would pay more.  So if you invest the kind of time and energy that the wealthy and comfortable probably never would, you can combine sales and coupons and things like "gymbucks" and get designer clothing on the very cheap.  Keep it nice and resell it on ebay and that's how you can dress your kid in fabulous clothes for next to nothing.  
  5. Buy On Ebay.  This one is my favorite, since you can do it from the comfort of your own home... just search your name brand of choice and your child's size and find things you like.  Add them to your "watch" list.  When the auction is almost up, start bidding.  I've sometimes been the only person bidding on an item - I once got an adorable, like-new Gymboree outfit for 99 cents.  And again... you can always resell it when you're done (unless it gets stained).  And you don't have to start your own auctions at .99 cents; I never do.
  6. Buy on flash-sale sites. My faves are Zulily, MyHabit, and GILT.  Flash-sale sites are websites that feature super brief 1-3 day sales on high-end brands; they send you an email each day listing that day's featured brands.  Think Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden, UGG Autralia, Stride Rite, Tea Collection, Halo, Keens, Crocs, Pediped, etc.  These sites also feature lesser-known ultra-high end European and boutique-only brands, and I have to admit that those have become my absolute fave.  I have another blog post in which I list some of the more obscure brands and give a little information about each of them.  Keep in mind that if you go to resell the boutique and Euro brands, you'll need to keep the words "boutique" and "designer" in your title since fewer people will run searches for those brands.  Also keep in mind that Euro brands often run small. 
  7. Go To Yard Sales By Rich People.  Wealthy people often have awesome high-end clothing and no time to resell it on ebay for what it's really worth.  How they have time for "yard" sales ("garage" sales in the Midwest where people have garages) I truly have no idea, but somehow they do and they're having them around here.  I've gotten beautiful red Gymboree holiday peacoats for $5 each, like-new Stride Rites for $1, and then some.  Keep these things in good condition and resell them on ebay and you can MAKE money dressing your kids in designer clothing.
  8. Shop Consignment Stores, and Consider Mom-To-Mom Mass Resales.  You can often find great deals at children's consignment stores.  You do have to sift through a lot of junk but it's such a rush to score a great find.  "Mom-to-Mom" type mass resales can be great too, but at least around here you'd better arrive early for the good stuff.  They aren't really an option for me because my husband is often working weekends and I have both kids ... heaven help you if you try to bring a toddler and a baby to one of these.
  9. Buy Ahead.  Don't be afraid to guess at your child's size if you find something nice for an amazing price, especially at end-of-season clearances.  If it turns out that it doesn't fit, you can just resell it - often for more than what you paid!  
  10. Resell On Ebay.  As you can see, this step is pretty paramount; please glance through my new blog post "Ten Tips For Reselling Children's Clothing on Ebay."  It does take time to iron, photograph, and post all your clothing - not to mention going to the post office with little kids in tow.  And if you really want to get full value you'll have to pay attention to the season and sell accordingly (so you usually have to store it for a year to "recoup" on your investment).  But if you're in a situation like I am where you simply can't afford the reeeeeaaaally cute stuff but you've been dreaming of it your whole life, the time spent will be well worth it.  And I do hope will join me on ebay because I'd love a bigger selection and more buyers to buy my stuff!  Ebay hint:  You can purchase blank plastic shipping envelopes on ebay for super cheap (about .20 cents each) and that will greatly cut down on your shipping costs.
These are a few of my favorite things...
Baby Gap Dress for Claire's birth announcement.
Paid $10, brand new with tags, consignment store.  Recouped every penny on Ebay.


Gymboree Swim Trunks and Matching UV Watershirt - Combined Sale with Gymbucks, paid $15, resale value $10-15.


Hanna Andersson:  Paid $10 for dress and tights on Ebay, can resell for at least that much.


Gymboree - cannot recall the specifics of the purchase but I sold this 3-piece set for $26 on Ebay.


Gymboree.  Combined sales and could probably get $25 back on this since I have the matching hat and socks... but I'm a little sentimental about parting with it.


Gymboree.  Sold this for $17, paid probably around $25 combining sales.
An outfit like this for $8?  I'll take it!