Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Early Christmas Preparations

Did you know that Thanksgiving used to be earlier in November, and when it was moved to the 4th Thursday in November, the merchants objected because it shortened the Christmas shopping season? It seems to me that the season gets started earlier and earlier every year, in spite of the Thanksgiving change.

In Germany, many people used to put up the tree on Christmas Eve day. We usually put ours up around December 15th – we wanted to have the beauty in the house, but also wanted to be sure it would last without drying out and becoming a fire hazard. It was cold enough that we could buy the tree and keep it outside, and then put it up when we had the time and energy.

And our tradition was that the tree had to be down by the Feast of Epiphany, on January 6th, the day the church celebrates the Wise Men (probably Persians) who came seeking the small baby born in Bethlehem.

We are having a smaller Christmas this year. With my Dad so ill, I don’t have the psychic energy to go all out as usual. Last year, we were all together; Dad and Mom bought tickets for Christmas Eve Day for all of us, the huge entire family, to go see the Nutcracker Ballet together. It was hugely fun. The production was lively and beautiful and delightful, all our plans went smoothly, and then we gathered back at Mom and Dad’s for finger-food dinner and a cut-throat game of Hearts. So much laughter, so much fun.

So I have the packages wrapped and my husband, God bless him, will get them in the mail today to insure they will arrive in time for Christmas. Although we are not going back, our son and his bride will be with us for Christmas here in Kuwait – alhamdullah! In my heart, I think of her as “the Seaside bride” – they were married on a gorgeous late afternoon in April on a snowy white sand beach in Florida. She was glowing and beautiful. He was beside himself with happiness. It was one of the happiest days in my life.

It was a bright, sunny afternoon. The minister, in his black suit, had sunglasses on. When we posted the photos, all our friends asked if he was FBI. He looked like a “man in black”.

On our way to church last night, I saw people who already have Christmas trees up and ready, all lit up in their windows. I remember last year in Qatar, where the word “Christmas” is never mentioned in the ads; stores advertise “seasonal decorations”. We celebrated 50 years of the church in Kuwait last night, and I thank God to live in a sophisticated country, where we are free to worship the same God, but in our own way.

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(Qatteri Cat thinking about getting ready for Christmas)

But for me, it’s still too early to put up a tree. It is too bright, too sunny, the Christmas tree looks diminished in the bright light. I have my boxes labled so I can pull out the early decorations first, without having to go through everything. Just a few baubles, a few little lights, and a little more next week.

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(Thought I would go silver this year, courtesy of some cool stuff from IKEA, but it was too cold and hard, softened up by adding just a little additional color)

November 27, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Holiday, Kuwait, Middle East, Qatar, Random Musings | Leave a comment

Christmas Cookies – Get Ready

It doesn’t have to be so hard. Yes, you are working. Yes, you have children. Yes, you have a million obligations, and the presents to buy and the presents to wrap and the presents to mail, and the cards to write.

Take a deep breath.

There’s an old joke. How do you eat an elephant? The answer? One bite at a time. Let that be your mantra. When you start breathing in short gasps, when you think you will never get it done, think “one bite at a time”.

Think about how much time is wasted at work. In those meetings, when the pompous so-and-so who is always bragging about her project, or the jerk is going on and on about what he has done, and it is pathetic, YOU can be organizing.

Here is the cool thing. When you write things down, you also get to check them off. Once you have written a bunch of things down, you also can see more clearly what comes first, what has more importance, what you can actually let go, and you can give them some sort of priority, on paper. You will be amazed how good it feels to be able to cross things off your list. Use notecards – you can quickly revise them. Save the used ones to savor after Christmas, to see how much you really did get done. You will be surprised – and proud.

So what are YOUR must-dos? Once you know what the must do’s are, you can draw a little time line . . .do today, do next week, do just before Christmas . . .write in when all the cookies are due. You know, your child’s Christmas party, the Lessons and Carols service, your husband’s office party, your office party. . .and you will be able to see when you need to get the majority of your baking done. Or the majority of your Christmas-goody buying. Who says you need to provide home baked cookies? Sometimes, you throw money at the problem.

But IF you are going to bake cookies – and it is a cool, easy thing to do if you have been making notes – let’s get it out of the way.

Advent starts next Sunday – so let’s plan to start the baking this coming Saturday.

What will you need? For sure you will need fine, white flour, and fine white sugar. For you in the US, that is a given, you don’t even think twice about it. For people in other parts of the world, sugar is not always so incredibly fine, or so white.

If you are facing that sugar problem, get a blender. Blenders make so many things so easy, they are cheap and they are a Godsend to the busy person trying to put together Christmas.

Pour that large grained sugar, a cup at a time, into the blender, and turn the blender on. It won’t give you the refined sugar of back home, but a good whirl will cut some of those larger lumps down into a sugar usable in cookie recipes like Spritz, where it has to be able to come through the press, and large lumps of sugar cause annoying hold-ups while you clean them out of the mold every time. it’s worth a few extra minutes, and you can just set aside a half hour one evening to whirl sugar. That’s it – you’re done.

As well as the flour and the sugar, you will need butter – lots of butter. Some people use other solid shortening, but folks – it’s Christmas. Nothing tastes like real butter. When you cook with real butter, they taste better, and you only eat one or two, because they satisfy you, instead of gobbling the whole bunch and having to start all over again!

You will need flavoring – vanilla for sure, almond flavoring and lemon flavoring if you are doind different kinds of cookies. Walnuts if you are doing Mexican Wedding Cakes/Russian Tea Cakes, which are where we will start because they are SO SO easy. You will need red food coloring and green food coloring. You will need confectioner’s sugar, lots of it. A little evaporated milk.

And you will need Tupperware containers. Well, not necessarily Tupperware, but some large containers, air-tight, for storing dough in the refrigerator and then for storing cookies you have made.

See, we are eating this elephant one bite at a time. On the way home from (work, picking up the kids, soccer practice, choir practice) you stop at the store and get the flour and sugar and walnuts and flavorings – you know what you need because you have your LIST! Wooo Hoooo! In and out of the supermarket in a flash, and on your way back home.

Leave a couple sticks of butter out (in the microwave if you have a cat – cats will lick the butter if you leave it out) to soften while you fix dinner. Feed the kids, get the dishes out of the way and quick – before you fall down in exhaustion! – mix up a batch of cookie dough!

Here’s what I suggest:

Russian Tea Cakes
Spritz Cookies
Sugar Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies

That is all. Russian Tea Cakes are so so easy, especially with a food processor. Mix the dough one night, roll the cookies and bake another night – see? One bite at a time. Here’s the trick – the Russian Tea Cakes will all be snowy white, from the confectioner’s sugar on the outside.

Make two different kinds of Spritz cookies – yes, you can. The cookie presses are CHEAP and they last for years. You will need to get the feel of it, but that just takes a little practice. You can do it. The secret is keeping the dough in the refrigerator and popping it through the press is it is cool enough to stick together.

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So you make a triple batch of Spritz cookie dough, and divide it into two portions. Color one portion green – and use a lot of green food coloring so the color will be strong and you can make trees. The other portion can be used for wreaths, or whatever you want to choose. You will be surprised how quickly you can make a variety of cookies with the Spritz cookier maker. (yes, I will post these cookie recipes – right now, we are still making lists. We won’t bake until this weekend.)

Now come the sugar cookies. Again, double the recipe, make it one night so it will be all ready to go when YOU have the time. If you have children and want them to have Christmas Cooky experience, sugar cookies are where you want them to spend their time. Let them roll out the dough and cut a cookie or two – most kids will lose interest in a very short time, but they will remember that they helped! 😉

Again, key to the PERCEPTION that you have done a lot of baking is that we will glaze these cookies with three colors of icing, one set white (like stars) one set green (like trees) and one set red (like reindeer). Sugar cookies are a pain to make, lots of fiddly work, but they are big and showy, and worth the morning it takes to get them done. They go a long way.

Candy Cane Cookies – the dough is a lot like sugar cookie dough, you divide the recipe in half, color one half red, twist lengths of these together, form into candy cane form and bake. Voila!

You’ve baked four kinds of cookies in three different colors.

You buy sturdy paper plates (and raid the post-Christmas sales at the party supply stores this year to stock up on these) so that you don’t have to worry about getting your plate back, and you put a few of each of these cookies on the plate. You will be amazed at how good it looks, with the different cookies on the plate, and how easy it was.

Above recipes will follow. I will even include one special recipe for extra credit – Swedish Rosettes. You will need to find a Rosette Iron, which usually comes with two disks, always one lacy round one, and often one for a shell that can be filled. It takes a couple hours, but the results are amazing. You get to do that one because you made your lists, did a little bit of prep here and there, got the cookies baked and even have a little extra time to dance for joy. Go for it!

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The cookie press and the rosette iron are both from Amazon.com, only because I couldn’t get any other photos to print. There are other sources – cooking.com, maid of scandinavia, etc. These are tools worth the small investment – you use them year after year.

But remember, this is extra credit, not required. You can do it next year!

November 27, 2006 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life | 6 Comments

Stocking Your Kitchen

When my husband and I married, he took me grocery shopping. Bags and bags later, I said “we have to come back for spices.” He thought to himself “salt. pepper. How complicated can that be?” only to see another whole bag appear. He discovered a love of cooking, and cooks much fancier, more complicated dishes than I do. I still laugh at the day when he thought spices were just salt and pepper.

Here is the list I made for the newlyweds and independants in our family. What would you add? What are your staples in the kitchen?

Staples for Your Pantry
small cans of tomato paste
whole tomatos, 16 oz cans
tomato sauce, 16 oz. cans
artichoke hearts, 16 oz. can
evaporated milk
powdered milk
Dream Whip
olive oil
cider vinegar
red wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
canned tuna
1 can crab (opt)
1 can smoked salmon (opt)
1 can shrimp (opt)
1 can chunk pineapple
1 can some kind of fancy fruit juice concentrate – raspberry, pomegranate, etc. (mix with soda water for a “drink” when unexpected guests drop in)
1 package nice crackers
1 pkg chocolate chips
Soups – cans, packages
bouillon cubes (chicken, beef, veg)
Saltines (for queasy stomach and when there is no bread good with PB or tuna)

Baking Staples
flour (NOT self-rising)
fine white sugar
brown sugar
baking powder
baking soda
vanilla flavoring
almond flavoring
lemon flavoring
red food coloring
green food coloring

Spices
salt
pepper
cinnamon
thyme
sage
basil
marjoram
oregano
cumin
chili
cilantro
parsley
turmeric (makes things yellow)

Spices II Only if you are into cooking:
saffron
coriander
cardomon
ginger
cloves

Pasta
spaghetti noodles
lasagne noodles
stars/alphabets (small noodles)
penne noodles (for stronger sauces)

Freezer
cheddar cheese
mozarella cheese
hamburger
chicken breasts
leftover ham
leftover turkey
1 stick real butter
frozen spinace
frozen peas
individual biscuits

Refrigerator Basics
Milk
Eggs
Ketchup
sweet pickle relish
Mayonnaise
Butter spread
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (trust me)
cheddar cheese
Horseradish
Mustard (basic everyday yellow)
Really good French Mustard (opt)
jalepeno’s (if you use them)
Soda water (removes stains)
capers (opt)
sour cream (opt)
cream cheese (opt)
jam and jelly (your favorites)
chocolate syrup
tomato pesto (jazzes things up)
Thai chili sauce
soy sauce

November 26, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Shopping | 6 Comments

When Women Tell Lies

It’s an old joke, but it gave me a grin first thing in the morning – and that is a GOOD joke. Please, don’t be offended. God/The Lord appears in jokes in our culture frequently; it is not considered disrespectful.

One day, when a seamstress was sewing while sitting close to a river, her
thimble fell into the river. When she cried out, the Lord appeared and
asked, “My dear child, why are you crying?”

The seamstress replied that her thimble had fallen into the water and that
she needed it to help her husband in making a living for their family.

The Lord dipped His hand into the water and pulled up a golden thimble set
with pearls.

“Is this your thimble?” the Lord asked The seamstress replied, “No.”

The Lord again dipped into the river. He held out a silver thimble ringed
with sapphires.

“Is this your thimble?” the Lord asked. Again, the seamstress replied,
“No.”

The Lord reached down again and came up with a leather thimble. “Is this
your thimble?” the Lord asked.

The seamstress replied, “Yes.”

The Lord was pleased with the woman’s honesty and gave her all three
thimbles to keep, and the seamstress went home happy.

Some years later, the seamstress was walking with her husband along the
riverbank, and her husband fell into the river and disappeared under the
water. When she cried out, the Lord again appeared and asked her, “Why are
you crying?”

“Oh Lord, my husband has fallen into the river!”

The Lord went down into the water and came up with George Clooney.
“Is this your husband?” the Lord asked. “Yes,” cried the seamstress .

The Lord was furious. “You lied! That is an untruth!”

The seamstress replied, “Oh, forgive me, my Lord It is a misunderstanding.
You see, if I had said ‘no’ to George Clooney, you would have come up with
Brad Pitt. Then if I said ‘no’ to him, you would have come up with my
husband. Had I then said ‘yes,’ you would have given me all three. Lord,
I’m not in the best of health and would not be able to take care of all
three husbands, so THAT’S why I said ‘yes’ to George Clooney. And so the
Lord let her keep him.

The moral of this story is: Whenever a woman lies, it’s for a good and
honorable reason, and in the best interest of others.

That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

Signed,
All Us Women

November 26, 2006 Posted by | Joke | 2 Comments

Patricia Wells, France and Fallot Mustard

As I was scrambling through the Salmiyya Sultan, looking desperately for a few good ingredients on Thanksgiving morning, I stopped short in sheer wonder. There, on the shelves, here in Kuwait, were mustards by Edmond Fallot.

Monsieur Fallot makes the best mustards in the entire world. One year, we did a “French” turkey, slivered with a thousand slices of garlic carefully placed in a thousand tiny slits just under the turkey skin. It was magnificent. We served the turkey that year with a variety of Monsieur Fallot’s mustards.

We lived in Germany, and we often travelled to France for a couple weeks at a time, exploring different regions. We used lots of books, but the three we used most often for France were Patricia Wells Food Lover’s Guide to France, Patricia Wells Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, and a book published annually called Europe’s Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns.

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We didn’t have a lot of money, but what we lacked in money, we made up in energy, optimism and research. We found wonderful places to stay, fabulous meals and affordable side trips. We lunched out of charcouteries and boulangeries, we dined demi-pension in Michelin “Red R’s” (good local food at reasonable prices.) We found ourselves in the Burgundy area again and again, and Patricia Wells led us to Monsieur Fallot’s mustard factory in Beaune. Click there for a virtual visit to his factory in preparation for your real time, in person visit.

As I stood there, transfixed, in the Sultan Center, I was back in Beaune, travelling in France with some history and “foodie” friends, and we made a special stop at M. Fallot’s factory, whose address was listed in the original Food Lover’s Guide to France I was using then. I am guessing he has asked NOT to have his address given any more, maybe he had too many visitors like us. We couldn’t get enough of his mustards – we stayed and watch him filling jars with many different kinds, and bought at least one of each variety. His mustard is the gold standard of mustards. Worth a trip to Beaune.

Except you don’t have to go to Beaune – you can find M. Fallot in the Sultan Center in Salmiyya, or in William-Sonoma if you are in the U.S. and in other parts of the world where you find fine condiments.

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The latest edition I could find of the Food Lover’s Guide to France was 1987, for $1.99 used, through Amazon. The latest edition I could find of Food Lover’s Guide to Paris was 1999, and the cost, used, was $9.99, again through Amazon. (Disclaimer/Disclosure: yes. I do own stock in Amazon. Help me keep Amazon stock high, please. 🙂 ) I imagine some of the information in both books is outdated, restaurants have closed, newer, haute-er places are open, but I would still say they are worth the price.

Both guides list market days for various arrondisement/towns/villages, and for that alone, they are worth the price. Wells describes local specialities, and best of all, Wells is deliciously readable. Even if you don’t have a trip to Paris or France in your near future, Wells’ books are fun to read, and full of wonderful, valuable information.

The most recent edition I can find of Europe’s Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns on Amazon is 2003, but I know there are more recent editions because mine is 2004. It is edited by Adam & Caroline Raphael, and has hotels listed throughout Europe, not just France, although the lion’s share of hotels listed ARE in France. They range from budget to unbelievable luxury – and the twist is, this book is made up solely of recommendations from customers. Someone has to recommend the hotel, another has to second the recommendation, and readers keep the postings up to date. We have found some truly memorable hotels using this guide, hotels full of charm but affordable for the region. Most of the hotels were awesome. Even used, even outdated, one good hotel stay at a charming but reasonably priced hotel will pay the cost of the book.

November 25, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Cooking, ExPat Life, France, Kuwait, Shopping, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

How Thanksgiving Really Went . . .

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally a HUGE shopping day in the U.S. Stores have sales that start at 7 a.m. in the morning, some even reward customers who get there at 6 a.m. People start putting up their Christmas decorations. Almost everyone is in calorie overload – no matter how much you tell yourself you are going to go light, you end up eating more than you intended.

The really good news is that leftover turkey and cranberry sauce make dynamite sandwiches. Pies are great the second day.

I didn’t do the pecan pie. When I went to make it, I didn’t have any Karo syrup, and you can’t make a pecan pie without corn syrup. We made an early trip to the Sultan Center, where they DID have those gorgeous huge Kuwaiti shrimp, (they were yummy) and I bought some corn syrup, but by the time I got home, I needed to focus on other things and didn’t have time to make another pie. I had made a plum pie the day before when I discovered I didn’t have corn syrup, and that would have to do. As it turned out, my friend had made THREE pies, two stunningly beautiful pumpkin pies with little leaves of pastry crust on them, and a cranberry/lemon pie that was a tart surprise, and a welcome change from all the sweet stuff. She also baked three kinds of bread – she is one talented lady. She made it all look so easy. Whew!

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Pumpkin Pie with Autumn Leaves

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My friend did the turkey, and it was PERFECT. She also did the gravy, and it, too, was perfect. I will have to learn her secret. She also made a smokey black bean soup that was to die for.

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Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

Mom’s Roquefort dressing was a big hit, the cranberry jello was great, all the side dishes were great – something for everyone.

But I have to get the recipe for that smokey bean soup from my friend. . . WOW.

Best of all – good conversation with good friends, people you can be comfortable with.

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My parents are doing OK, and were baking a turkey when I called and would be sharing Thanksgiving Dinner with my youngest sister and her husband. I give thanks they still have the drive to do their own Thanksgiving.

Enough of the Thanksgiving. . . time to move on. I want to thank all of you who had fun with this meal, who tried making even one dish – you inspired me. And I guess there is a need for easy recipes, because once I had put those recipes online, I was getting huge hits every day – the day before Thanksgiving, I had almost 700 hits. . . it was a huge shock.

I especially want to thank 1001 Kuwaiti Nights for her inspiration, and her questions. I don’t even know what I know, until I know what you don’t know! See her first Thanksgiving dinner at that link. What courage! To try a Feast and to bring it off! I especially love the after photo of her first Pecan Pie! Woooo Hooooooo, 1001!

November 24, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Photos, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Traditional Thanksgiving Day Greeting

To husband/father/son/brother/ significant other:

Choose one:
a) Sweetie,
b) Honey,
c) Snookums,
d) Lover Boy,
e) Daddums,

“______________ I need for you to run to the market before THE game starts and pick up some ______________.” (whatever you thought you had and you don’t, and you need desperately)

Deal Clincher:

If they whine about this being the only morning they get to sleep in, you say:

Dad/brother/son: “I’ll tell Mom!”

Husband or significant other: “I’ll make it worth your while!”

(Joke)

Happy Thanksgiving, hope your day is filled with the joys of family and friends.

November 23, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Thanksgiving | 4 Comments

Thank God for Never Fail Pie Crust

Never Fail Pie Crust

Honest, it’s true, this pie crust ALWAYS works – the secret is the very cold water. I always start by putting some ice in a cup and adding water, so it is really cold when I need it.

3 cups flour
1 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vinegar

Cut half of Crisco into flour with a pastry blender until pieces are very fine. Then cut in second half of Crisco until pieces are the size of peas. Beat egg and add 6 tablespoons cold water plus one tablespoon vinegar, add to flour mixture and form into ball. Break off 1/3 and roll out – this recipe makes three crusts.

REMEMBER – do not work the dough too much or it will toughen. Touch little, touch light.

November 22, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Recipes, Thanksgiving | 5 Comments

Still Learning – Alhamdallah

Another Side of Thanksgiving . . .

My friend asked about my father, and when I told her he was slipping away, losing a little more every day, she said “Alhamdallah!”

I was caught up short. Her face was smiling. I had just told her my father is dying and she says “Thanks be to God?”

I know this woman like my own sister. Her daughters are my own daughters. I am welcome in every corner of her house, I pray for every one of her children, and being in her home is like being in my own home, we are all so comfortable together.

“No,” I said, “You’ve misunderstood what I said!” and she hugged me and said “I understood, but no matter what happens, we say ‘alhamdallah’. If you father is dying, we say ‘alhamdallah’. If Hurricane Katrina strikes, we say ‘alhamdallah’. All things come from Allah, and He knows all things. It is his will, so we say ‘alhamdallah’.”

We are both religious women. My faith says the same thing, to give thanks in all things. In my daily life, I sometimes forget. Truly, in my culture, you would never say “thanks be to God” if someone had just told you something very sad.

Being exposed to the Islamic world has complemented my own faith. No, I don’t need to be a Muslim; I think the differences between us are much smaller than the similarities. But truly, I thank God for all that I learn about my own faith by living is Moslem countries.

I love the call to prayer; nothing wrong with being reminded during the day – and night – to love and honor God. I love living among people who give thanks to God so many times a day, even for Hurricane Katrina, even for my failing father. I love watching the fathers and sons headed to the mosque on Fridays. There’s even a very gentle station with Moslem films in English that I watch from time to time because it is so peaceful, and tolerant and sweetly loving.

My friend took time from her very busy life and made a special trip to the bookstore to buy me a book called Don’t Be Sad. It’s a wonderful book by ‘Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni with chapters like “How to deal with bitter criticism,” “Do Not Carry the Weight of the Globe on Your Shoulders,” Do Not be Shaken by Hardships'” “Jealousy is Not Something New” and one of my favorites – “Do Not Be Sad – Do Good to Others.” This book is helpful to me in so many ways, including giving me good sura that are very similar to writings in our own book. This helps me clarify to others in my culture how alike we are, and how similar our faith is. My friend loves me, and I know she wants only the best for me. I give thanks to have her as a friend.

Every now and then, I come across something that shakes me – like when my friend said “alhamdallah” about my Father . . . but in the end, I learn something and my understanding broadens. Alhamdallah!

November 21, 2006 Posted by | Books, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Relationships, Spiritual, Women's Issues | 11 Comments

The Final Blessing: Thanksgiving Desserts

Someone will almost always bring a pumpkin pie and/ or a mincemeat pie. There are variations, but it is always safe to use the recipe on the back of the canned pumpkin can for reliably good pumpkin pie, and by the end of a wonderful dinner, a lot of men just want good-ole-pumpkin pie, nothing fancy, you know, the way Mom used to make it. So go ahead, make one of the plain old pumpkin pies for him.

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz) can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can Carnation Evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 Unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell

Mis sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in canned pumpkin and sugar spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425 F (220 C) oven 40 – 50 minutes or intil knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours and then serve or refrigerate.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Roll
This is a little more challenging, and you have to have a jelly-roll pan. Once you have done one of these roll things, though, you know it’s a whole lot easier than it looks. Yayyyyy.

This is a great Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert when you are sick of the same-old same-old desserts. Plus, one of these old fashioned rolled desserts always looks really fancy!

Cake:

Powdered sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped walnuts

Filling:

1 package cream cheese
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 15” x 10” jelly roll pan. Line with waxed paper, grease and flour paper (there is a reason!) Sprinkle a flat tea towel or dish cloth (flat woven, not terry cloth) with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in a larger mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin, stir in the flour mixture. Spread evenly in prepared jelly roll pan, sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Bake 13 – 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake out of pan onto prepared tea-towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in samll mixer bowel until smooth. Carefully unroll cake, remove towel, and spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Roll cake back up again (it will want to be in the rolled position after cooling that way) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Soused Apple Cake
From Quail Country: The Junior League of Albany, Georgia.
If you don’t have brandy, don’t bother with this one – the brandy give it the punch, even though all the alcohol cooks off during baking. Kids hate this cake, adults love it.

4 cups cooking apple 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins 2 teaspoons baking soda
brandy 1 teaspoon nutmeg (grate it fresh, it matters!)
2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salad oil 1/4 teaspoon mace
2 eggs 1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups flour whipped cream

Peel, core and finely chop apples; put into a bowl with raisins and cover with brandy, and soak overnight. Drain apples and raisins, set aside.

Combine sugar, salad oil and eggs. Set aside. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and mace. Add to oil mixture. Mix in apples, pecans and raisins. Mix well and pour into an oiled 9 x 13 baking dish. Cook in 325 degree oven for 1 hour.

Cut into squares, serve topped with sweetened whipped cream. Yield 15 – 20 servings.

** I use a tiny bit of ground cloves instead of mace. I also have used all sorts of whiskeys and brandies, but my favorite remains calvados or . . . rum! It is one of my favorite recipes.

Pecan Pie
When I saw pecans during Ramadan, I bought them up, da*n the expense. Pecans! This recipe is also from Quail Country, by the Junior League of Albany, GA. It is permanently marked in my cookbook!

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 9-inch deep dish pastryt shell, unbaked

Beat eggs slightly; add sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Blend well, but do not overbeat; add butter. Stir in pecans. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in preheated 350 F (180 C) oven about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Six servings.

OK, that (above) is the fail-proof recipe.

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To me, it comes out very flat and thin, so I double the recipe and cook it in a French tart pan (large round glass or ceramic cooking pan with fluted straight edges), and then cut thin slices. This is very rich, very sweet.

November 20, 2006 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Recipes, Thanksgiving | 11 Comments