We kicked off this foolhardy series last month with a funny looking but all-around delicious Marge creation—Little Meatloaf Men. That’s all well and good, but there have been plenty of gross Homer food concoctions over the years, and I thought it was time we got our hands dirty. There’s a great episode in Season 5 titled “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),” and it features a desperate Homer breakfast for the books.
Before we get to that, this is another all-around great episode. It opens with a flashback to the bygone days of Springfield, when the town was so prosperous the streets were literally paved with gold. Flash forward to “present day,” and Springfield has fallen on hard times. Mayor Quimby holds a town meeting, and everyone agrees that legalizing gambling is the solution to the town’s money problems. For once, and to everyone’s surprise, Marge doesn’t object. Later, Homer remembers this differently, telling Marge that according to his “photographic memory” she objected to the whole idea. This glimpse into Homer’s memory is one of my favorite things to happen on The Simpsons (levitating beard baby, anyone?).
As is often the case with these sort of deals, Burns’ casino doesn’t work out quite as planned. Everyone gets really into gambling, with Homer landing a job as a terrible Blackjack dealer and trying to teach Maggie how to gamble. Mr. Burns begins a quick descent into germ-fueled madness, and Bart starts his own treehouse casino with special guest Robert Goulet (“Vera said that?”). Marge becomes addicted to slot machines, leaving her family to fend for themselves for days on end. This results in chaos at home, with a great bogeyman scare and a total lack of edible food—which leads us to our recipe this month. I think it’s best just to quote the scene to, well, set the scene:
Lisa: There’s nothing to eat for breakfast.
Homer: You gotta improvise, Lisa. Cloves, Tom Collins mix, frozen pie crust.
Lisa: Maybe mom just doesn’t realize we miss her. We could go down to the casino and let her know…
Homer: Oh, come on, Lisa, there’s no reason to—[takes a bite]—let’s go see Mom.
—“$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),” The Simpsons
There you have it. Breakfast of champions. Whole cloves Tom Collins mix a frozen pie crust = delicious? Okay, well, even Homer didn’t think it was delicious, and Homer once ate a single sub sandwich for weeks on end until it nearly killed him. That’s not a ringing endorsement. But I decided we have to start somewhere, and we should probably start by making it as written.
Guess what? There’s a reason that Homer made that face after he put a bite of this concoction in his mouth. It has inedible, teeth-cracking cloves in it, lemon-y sugar water, and a soggy, Play-Doh-like crust. In fact, it made me do this.
As much as I like being faithful to my inspirations, I don’t suggest you try this one at home. Instead, how about making this Simpsons-inspired pie? It has a clove-spiced cookie crust, a silky and tart lemon filling, and gin-flavored whipped cream. It’s an easy dessert that’s great for these leftover days of summer. And with the clove spice, it makes the transition to fall dessert nicely. I feel confident that Homer himself would devour it in a single, gluttonous bite. Mmm…gluttonous.
Spiced Tom Collins Pie
20 min prep, 20 min cook time (40 min total)
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves (plus extra for decorating)
- pinch salt
- 7 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons gin (optional, I guess)
- 1-2 lemon slices, for decorating
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, clove, salt, and melted butter. Mix well, and dump into your pie pan. Press against the bottom and the edges until an even crust is formed. Bake for 10 minutes.
2. While your crust bakes, combine sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, juice, and zest in a mixing bowl and whisk until very well combined. Once crust is done baking, carefully pour mixture into the crust and smooth the top so it’s level.
3. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, until set but not brown. It should jiggle like Jell-O in the center, not like liquid. Let pie cool completely.
4. Once your pie is cool, pour cold cream into a mixing bowl and whip until cream starts to get extra thick (a handheld mixer works best here, otherwise your arm is going to get so very tired). Add sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, and add gin slowly, one tablespoon at a time. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
5. Spread whipped cream over the top of the cooled pie. Dust lightly with ground cloves, and decorate with a lemon slice or two. Chill until ready to serve, and store leftovers in the refrigerator.
P.S. I’ve decided my Halloween costume this year will have to be Lisa dressed in a Homer-made “Floreda” costume at the school pageant. A Ralph Idaho costume would be pretty great, too.
Laurel Randolph is a food and lifestyle writer hailing from Tennessee and living in Los Angeles. She enjoys cooking, baking and candlestick making. Tweet at her face: @laurelrandy.