a spoonful of sugar

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

with both pregnancies, i didn't have "weird" cravings of the pickle and ice cream variety. but i have had strong cravings. with alexander, it was meat, meat, and more meat. with baby girl, it has been carbs, veggies, and sweets, sweets, sweets.

about a week before we left for california, i emailed a dear friend of mine, whom i met back in college about 13 years ago (suddenly feeling very old). she used to make this amazing banana cream pie which would just lift my spirits. we had made plans to have dinner together during our california trip and i requested she make banana cream pie. the added bonus of being pregnant is you can kind of make outrageous demands, and people, no matter how busy, will bend over backwards to accommodate, especially a close friend who loves you.

back in college, dianne and i use to stay up until three a.m. making this pie, so i knew it was a big ask. but being the amazingly generous and crazy friend she is, she happily agreed to make it for me. the only problem was, she also prepared a 10 course meal of meat, pasta, salad, seafood, and appetizers with enough food to feed at least 15 people, when in reality, only 6 adults would be partaking. i know i have a reputation for exaggerating, but seriously, you can even ask david - it was that much food. and a pregnant lady cannot be trusted not to gorge herself with the feast spread before her, so i ate and ate and ate. by the time the banana cream pie came out, my stomach was literally in my throat. i forced myself to eat the medium slice served to me, though i couldn't adequately appreciate its decadence. and yet i simultaneously wanted a bigger slice.

the next day, and every day since, i have craved that banana cream pie. sigh. and when you're pregnant, you desperately just want people to cook the things you want to eat for you. but alas, dianne is 3000 miles away, otherwise, i know she would have showed up at my doorstep with pie in hand (like she use to do in college when times were tough). so yesterday morning, i strapped alexander in the stroller and made my way to the grocery store to stock up on ingredients.

here are a few modifications that i make to the recipe:

1) i tend to find american desserts too sweet for my liking. anywhere the recipe called for sugar, i halved it or used about three-quarters of what the recipe called for. (i do this for any baking recipe: cookies, cakes, pie...)
2) i omitted the chocolate sauce. but not the caramel sauce.
3) back in college, we were of the waste not, want not mind set, so instead of whipping cream to top the pie, we used the extra egg whites and made a meringue topping instead. to this day, that is still my preference, especially since the custard is so rich. once the meringue is set, top the assembled pie and bake on broil for a few minutes, watch the meringue brown in all the right places. let cool and pop the pie back in the fridge so the custard can reset. be mindful while your meringue is baking lest it get a tad burnt like mine did (in my defense, i was tending to a work email)
4) i know you can buy pre made graham cracker crusts these days, but trust me when i say you want to make your own from scratch. also, make your own graham cracker crumbs - it's more deliciously authentic. something is just off about the pre-crumbed graham crackers that makes me suspicious. back in college, when dianne and i lacked a well equipped kitchen, we would put four graham crackers in large ziplock bags, grab coffee mugs, and sit in front of the tv, while we smashed the crackers into crumbs - by far the most laborious part of the pie making. you can't put more than four crackers at a time because it will eventually tear the ziplock and you will lose preciously earned crumbs. but now, 13 years later, i just break the crackers into my food processor and in less than two minutes, i have the requisite three cups of crumbs. note, you will need three packages of graham crackers (i believe there are four to a box). you must add the melted butter and half smashed banana. it makes all the difference. once you make your crust, you will have some left over crust crumbs. DO use a spoon to eat it like cereal. trust me. no judgment here.
5) and finally: skip dinner, or just eat a salad, because there are more than enough calories to fill hungry bellies in this pie!

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