It’s that time of year that stays with us for years and years. It’s that time of the year when all those lovely memories come back; the time of year we wish will stay forever. Time for family, friends, celebration and of course good food. It’s Thanksgiving time!!
Thanksgiving, as most of us know it, is an American harvest festival, celebrated with a large meal centered on a roasted turkey. But what many of us might not know is that the traditional “first thanksgiving” is said to have been in 1621, very close to where we are now-in the Plymouth Plantation, currently known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. The first Thanksgiving was a grand community feast hosted by the Pilgrims as a means of showing appreciation for the Native Americans who had taught them farming and thereby helped them survive the harsh winter. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a time to be thankful for all the good things bestowed upon us and a time to reconnect with family and friends. It is celebrated with a grand feast with turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pies and much more.
A short while I spent with RC student, Jonathan, gave me a feel of the perfect Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for Jon is all about family coming together. He nostalgically remembers how every year the family gets together to make their favorite recipes. There are generations of tradition to their Thanksgiving meal. Jon says every year the families make the same dishes from the same recipes that have been passed down from his grandmother or even her mother. Jon’s fondest memories are of the whole family chatting, laughing, sharing old stories and having fun in the kitchen as the food is being made. A typical Thanksgiving day for him would begin with the preparations starting early in the morning, the meal during mid-afternoon, and finally a game of football on TV. Jon, who I figure out loves to cook and share his recipes, says he always enjoyed helping out with the cooking. I am not surprised when he says he makes the best gravy at home. Jon was more than excited to share some of his and his family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes with us.
As he explains the secrets to these recipes, I cannot but mention how amused I am at the ease with which he applies TOM terms and concepts to the kitchen and his cooking. Hearing him talk of cooking and his recipes would put most expert chefs, let alone a novice like me, to shame. His recipes seem just perfect, and we just have to try them out.
Sweet Potato Soufflé – serves 8
Up to 1 C milk (usually use about « cup – otherwise too watery)
« C sugar
« t salt
3 T butter
1 t nutmeg
2 C mashed sweet potatoes (2 lb. for 2C mashed)
2 eggs separated
1 « T dark rum or brandy
Scald milk, and add sugar, salt, butter, and nutmeg to potatoes. Beat until fluffy. Beat egg yolks and add to potatoes and rum. Beat egg whites stiff, fold into potatoes, and pour into a greased baking dish. Bake in medium over (350 degrees) 50-60 minutes.
Tips from Jon:
To make this recipe easier to do: Cut potatoes and cook before peeling.ÿ(Cook about 20 minutes, should be fork-tender). Separate eggs and beat egg whites before mashing the potatoes, and putting the casserole together.
Pecan Pie: According to Jon’s family lore, this recipe came from his grandmother’s grandmother.ÿJon did not have the recipe written down, but sent us a scanned copy of his grandmother’s original type-written version. I thought the copy was more than just a recipe-it was loaded with tradition. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about-traditions and family. We thought we could recreate the feeling in our own small way and are attaching the scanned copy, with a few comments from Jon.
For the pie, Jon says, “An important note that is not in the recipe: the eggs need to be tempered with the sugar mixture first before mixing completely (take some of the sugar mixture from the pan and add it very slowly to the eggs; mix.ÿRepeat.ÿOnce they are well-combined, you can put the egg/sugar mixture back in the pan.ÿIf you combine the eggs and sugar mixture completely in the pan (as the recipe states), the eggs will cook and you will end up with scrambled eggs!).ÿAnother funny tangent: when I lived in London I made this pie for Thanksgiving. I could not find shelled pecans, so I had to shell the nuts myself.ÿPecan shells are unbelievably hard, and it took me two hours.ÿI was so pissed off and angry.”
Jon is very excited as he plans to go home for another Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for him is nostalgic, and sentimental and also the start of the Christmas season. As Jon and his family prepare for Thanksgiving, and for decorating their favorite Christmas tree, I, too, am reminded that this is more than just Thanksgiving time-it’s now holiday time!!
Whether it’s going back home to meet family and friends or visiting your favorite holiday destination, we wish you a yummy yum holiday season ahead. For now, we sign off wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We’ll see you once you’re back with yummier delicacies from across the globe. A Yummy yum 2010 is already calling!!!
Niranjana Neelakantan Gupta is an EC Partner. A home-maker, Niranjana enjoys hosting friends, cooking, writing and travelling.