Monday, 29 November 2010

Giving thanks

Last Thursday was my third Thanksgiving, living in the States! While in some ways I feel more familiar here, at other times I am brought up short by something trivial or inconsequential - like a license plate, or someone's address, with the mental exclamation: 'I live in TEXAS?!' I used to say 'I live in London!' to myself pretty regularly while I was there, with an air of delighted, disbelieving satisfaction; here, the disbelief is at least as great, but the delight - well, maybe not QUITE as much ;)

Anyway, one thing I DO like is setting aside a day to be thankful - and whichever way you look at it, we do all have a great deal to be thankful for. Dave and I support a number of charities - among them Médecins Sans Frontières, Water Aid and Help the Afghan Children - and while I love reading about the success stories those wonderful organisations achieve with so many people around the world, I am always very aware that we have, in comparison, so very much.

So we celebrated Thanksgiving this year with grateful hearts.

Those flowers came out of our garden - they've lasted in the vase for two weeks already and are still looking perfect!

Those last photos are from a new recipe I tried - pumpkin cheesecake - they were fabulous! I made individual ones in my beloved mini tart pans (I found them in a New York City restaurant supply store, after hours of searching on the internet - they're deeper than any others I was able to find with that same diameter) but you can easily make a standard sized cheesecake using this recipe. You could also swap the pumpkin for something else - I'm thinking of trying passionfruit some time soon...

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients - base
1 1/4 cups biscuit crumbs
(Graham crackers are common here)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Spices to taste (I added some ginger, and some of my fabulous baking spice blend - a mixture of cinnamon, cassia, mace, anise, allspice and cardamom)

Ingredients - filling
2 8oz packets of cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
Spices to taste (I used the baking blend again, but no more ginger)

- Mix biscuit crumbs, sugar and spices; add melted butter and mix well
- Spoon crumb mixture into pan(s); press down firmly (I used a shot glass for the small pans; a normal drinking glass would probably work well for a larger pan)
- Bake at 350F for 6 - 8 minutes, until lightly browned
- Cool for at least 30 minutes

- Combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth
- Add eggs one at a time; blend
- Spoon approximately half of this mixture into pan(s); chill
- Add pumpkin puree to remaining mixture, along with any spices you're using
- Carefully add to pan(s); smooth
- Bake at 325F for 25 - 35 minutes, or until centre is almost set
- Allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight

- Serve with whipped cream and a dusting of spice and/or vanilla sugar