My first experience of Thanksgiving was 5 years ago, when I came to New York for four months. Until then Iâ€™d never known the pleasure of a pumpkin pie, never eaten a cornbread muffin, never imagined a green bean casserole, or a marshmallow-studded bowl of baked mashed sweet potato.
But I quickly learned.
Friend Susan was the first person to invite me for lunch. â€œYou have to draw round your hand to make a turkey shape,â€ she told me. â€œItâ€™s gonna be fun. See you at 2.â€
And on the Tuesday before, my colleague handed me an embossed invitation to her parentsâ€™ Park Avenue drinks party for Thanksgiving-themed nibbles at 7. “Do I have to draw round my own hand to make a turkey?” I asked her.
“No” she said looking at me as though I’d recently arrived from the moon.
â€œIâ€™d love to!â€ I said.
Which is when things took a turn for the Vicar Of Dibley â€“ which for those not familiar with 90â€™s British sit coms, refers to an incident where Geraldine, the titular vicar, attends 4 Christmas dinners to avoid causing disappointment.
On the Wednesday morning my boss approached me with a cheery â€œtomorrow. 7.30 for 8 then. Paulâ€™s made his own stock with actual bones. Itâ€™s going to be special.â€
I swear that heâ€™d never so much as mentioned it before.
But I like turkey. So I hatched a plan. Small portions. Walk between parties. Wear a loose dress.
Party number 1. Susanâ€™s on the Upper West Side. â€œSo youâ€™ve never had a Thanksgiving meal before, Kate? Well then, you must try a bit of everything! Hereâ€™s some corn bread, and a corn bread muffin and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and the turkey, here, and green bean casserole â€“ and this is salad (it was Jelly / Jello. Love that that can be called â€œsalad.â€) And hereâ€™s some cranberry sauce and stuffing and gravy â€¦ apple pie, pecan pie or pumpkin pie â€“ or all three!â€
I waddled to the drinks party where I nibbled a cranberry canapÃ© and a turkey vol au vent and a corn bread toast with sweet potato puree on it, sipped a glass of water and admired what Iâ€™m sure was a Manet over the fireplace. Then it was swiftly on to dinner number 2.
â€œSo, Kate, this is your first ever Thanksgiving?â€
â€œWell then, you must try a bit of everything! Hereâ€™s some corn bread â€¦â€
Pumpkin spiced pecan cookies (makes 12)
These make a lovely hostess gift â€“ Iâ€™ve been giving them to friends wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with some off-cuts of orange velvet ribbon that Bob the costume guy gave me (in return for a bag of cookies). They make the apartment smell more Thanksgiving-ish than any scented candle, they take five minutes to make and ten minutes to bake.1 1/4 cup plain flour loosely packed (8 oz) 1/4 cup sugar (2 oz) (plus extra for rolling) 1 1/2 sticks of butter (6 oz) cold and cut into cubes Â¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
2 rounded tsp pumpkin spice mix
- Pre heat the oven to 400
- Tip the flour, sugar, spices and butter cubes into a bowl, then rub them through your fingertips until the mixture looks like sandy rubble (or use a mixer)
- Press together into a dough
- Tip in the chopped pecans and stir to combine
- Pour some sugar onto the board (about 2 tbsp – and add 2 tsp of cinnamon if you think cinnamon sugar would taste good here) , then take tsps of the mixture and roll in the sugar into balls
- Place these balls on a baking tray with plenty of space between them, squash them down into cookies, then bake for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness
If you can make that you can make this
- replace half the flour with ground almonds
- ginger chocolate chip cookies