Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Thanksgiving Work-Around

So, our preparations for Thanksgiving began with a big double shop, first at Wu Mart, the local Chinese grocery store, and a follow up shop at April Gourmet for whatever Wu Mart lacked.

Turns out Wu Mart did pretty well – we even found olive oil, leeks, sweet potatoes, and more mushrooms of so many varieties that I can’t wait to try the stuffing.

We only needed a few things in April Gourmet: fresh thyme, butter, milk, and we found cinnamon sugar, so I have to retract the recent post about not being able to find ground cinnamon in China. Sorry China.

Somehow, though, we got out of Wu Mart spending a little over 200 yuan (about $31) for a ton of food, and spent more than 300 at April Gourmet for a whole lot less. Maybe it was because we impulsively bought a bottle of Amarullo to drink with dessert. Nothing like a South African desert drink to go with our American holiday meal in China.

I started with pumpkin pie. I have a large can of pumpkin, so I’m going to make two small pies, one with a graham cracker crust and one with a traditional crust.

One challenge: I don’t have measure cups or spoons, so I measured out the flour for the crust (we’re pretty sure it’s basic wheat flour, but who knows?), with a soup ladle. Years of measuring have made me pretty good at this. Salt and sugar were easy guesses, and then I needed a half cup of butter (New Zealand butter, which just sounds good), which I again sliced off a block and worked into the flour with my hands, peasant-style.

I used a round wooden stick to roll out the dough.

And pressed it into a cake tin (closest thing I could find to a pie tin).

This is what the recipe suggests at this point: “With the remaining pastry make decorative cut-outs (leaves, pumpkins, etc.) and with a little water, attach them around the lip of the pie pan.” Maybe not.

Now I have to figure out how this extra-large can of pumpkin works with how many eggs and how much cream. The eggs in this country are smaller than the medium sized eggs in the U.S., so I have to tweak that proportion a bit.

(That's ginger on the left) Okay, five eggs, a mess of heavy cream, some lumpy brown sugar that had a molasses smell, cinnamon sugar and grated cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger – all mixed with pumpkin, poured into two crusts and ready to bake.

This was exhausting. I’ll post tomorrow about how it actually tasted.

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