This is Thanksgiving week. If it was just us here, I think I wouldn’t have bothered with a big meal because all the things I like to cook for the holidays my kids won’t eat anyway. However, we have been invited to a friend’s house for a potluck American Thanksgiving, so that gives me the chance to cook up all the things that I like to eat anyway!
Namely, I have volunteered to make:
Lemon pie (without meringue because I don’t have my KitchenAid to whip it – Do you know how long it takes to whip meringue by hand??? I’ve done it. I’ll pass.)
There was some discussion about what dressing is. All the people coming to this Thanksgiving are Yankees and have only ever had stuffing. I think they are skeptical, so there is a lot of pressure to not mess this up! I’ve helped Dad make the dressing the past couple of years so I feel confident that I can put out a decent showing.
So our first challenge was making cornbread. There is no dressing without cornbread, plus there was an interest in having cornbread from the aforementioned Yankees <note: there is nothing wrong with being a Yankee. Y’all just cook funny!> However, upon visiting the store, the “cornmeal” came in two varieties: corn flour and polenta (slightly cooked). I was a little nervous about slightly cooked polenta even though it looked like cornmeal, but corn flour I would pretty sure would make a corn cake. We bought the corn flour to start because the guys at the grocery were a little shocked I was suggesting baking the polenta into bread. But we went back for the polenta. As I thought, the corn flour tasted right, but it was moist and doughy like a cake. The polenta had the right consistency and gave the bread a little bit of grit. I haven’t noticed anything weird about it being “slightly cooked.”
<Another note: Apparently in the UK corn flour is actually cornstarch. My grocery had both flour made from corn and cornstarch. There were two different brands of cornstarch, one called corn flour and one called corn starch. Another example of the war between British and American English here.>
Also in the cornbread, you need flour, buttermilk, baking powder and baking soda. I had flour already. I almost messed up and bought banana milk instead of buttermilk, but I self-corrected and didn’t make that mistake. I found baking powder and thought I found baking soda, but when I got home I actually had 2 brands of baking powder! I had to visit my neighbor real fast to borrow baking soda. Come to find out, baking soda is called bicarbonate of soda. I’m sure my family is going to tell me I should have figured that out, but I’m not sure that I saw it on the shelf anyway.
I did have to use Google a few times to do conversions. (grams to tablespoons, cups, etc). All in all, it worked out ok.
So now that the field test cornbread has turned out fine, my only other obstacle is finding graham crackers for the pie crust. I’m not sure I have seen any while I have been here, but that should be something that is available, right? If not, I guess I’m making a flour pie crust.
We actually have been surprised at the amount of things you CAN find. Some things can only be bought at a premium (ziploc bags for example) and some things you have to decipher through another language to figure out what it is, but generally we aren’t “missing” out on anything major. There are a lot less prepared foods, so you have to have a dinner game plan ahead of time. No running to the store to “pick something up.” Dan says that cramps my cooking style. I will admit that I buy half-prepared foods a lot (frozen cut veggies, etc), so this is probably good practice for me. This week we even found Pop’s brand of pancake mix. You have no idea how much better pancakes taste now!
Crossing my fingers that this goes well because we have invited some of our Palestinian friends over Friday to Thanksgiving part II. (Because I have never in my life only attended one Thanksgiving celebration. No need to start now!)
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Especially the Speeds and the Deases! We will miss you guys this year!