Sunday, December 23, 2012

Just in Time

I think the holidays came just in time this year .. just in time to save me from jumping over the edge of a never-ending pile of marking and never looking back. In plain language? It saved me from actually taking a sick day, not because I'm sick, but because I'm sick. I don't have a fever, sore throat or hacking cough. I'm not bogged down by a migraine or nausea. This sick comes from a never-ending fatigue, too much florescent light entering my brain, and hearing negative things said about my profession all day long on the news.

The holidays came just in time to save me from being overwhelmed and bringing that negativity into the classroom -- something the children never deserve to see.  It also came just in time to give me that little bit of extra time to catch up on all the various tasks that need to be done, just so I can probably fall behind again come February.

So in the spirit of things happening just in time, I'm offering you this delicious squash pie, just in time for the holidays. It has a flavourful, easy press-in crust, and a sweet, smooth, spicy filling. And it's vegan! It's also almost healthy, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it, especially if you love squash. Although I love pumpkin anything, this fall, I discovered the a whole new squash world. Hubbards, kobochas, buttecups and ambercups -- all delicious, nutty, and impossibly buttery and sweet. That's the real secret to this pie -- a flavourful squash.  They're all over the markets now, so don't be scared. Just halve it, scoop out the seeds, chunk it up and roast at 350 in an inch of water. About an or so later, you'll have perfect squash, ready to be pureed and baked into something delicious.

The pie comes from two different sources; the crust is from have cake will travel --  always a good source for tasty vegan baked treats -- and the beautiful filling is from post punk kitchen. The inspiration came from a good friend of mine at school whose mom used to use hubbard squash to make squash pie (in the old fashioned way of course, with lots of cream and sugar and a buttery crust). The squash was so beautifully sweetened that it didn't need too much help -- a few spoonfuls of apple butter and a big splash of maple syrup did the trick. The real secret is the teaspoon of agar powder to give it a custardy texture without the use of eggs. A teaspoon is all you need to make this beautiful filling set up like a dream.

This pie would make a beautiful dessert to a wholesome holiday meal, and you don't even have to feel bad eating a piece in the morning for breakfast.

Vegan Squash Pie with Spelt Crust
adapted from have cake will travel and post punk kitchen

1/14 cups of spelt flour

2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 teaspoons (or more if needed) of almond milk

1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Add the oil and start mixing with a rubber spatula. Add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between, until the dough comes together.

2. Press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. Make the edges fancy if you like. Go for it!

3. Place the dough in the freezer while you make the filling.

3 cups of pureed squash
2 tablespoons of apple butter (you could totally skip this if you don't have it)
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1 teaspoon of agar powder
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of allspice

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. Keep going! Get it smooth and well-combined.

2. Pour the squash filling into your crust and bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the edges get nice and golden brown, and the middle of the pie is set but still a bit jiggly.

3. Cool, slice and serve.

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