On the back burner

(This is Hungry, a wee friend my mother and I picked up in a Haligonian art gallery.  Hungry is so famished that she eats her own progeny.  Yes, the fact that my mother and I purchased her together and argued over who should keep her is the stuff of Freudian analysis for years to come, but we love her, and she seems to be our foodie family's totem creature.  My father and D, it has to be said, seem somewhat baffled by our delight in her, but they tolerate our enthusiasm.  Even when we brought out Hungry just after buying her and sat her next to us at one of Halifax's fancier restaurants, where this picture was taken.  The restaurant's staff earned my eternal loyalty by taking it all in stride.)

Yesterday was my first ever Thanksgiving away from my family and out of my country, and I have to say it was a bit grim.  I found myself homesick for the only time since I arrived in lovely Halifax, Nova Scotia, despite the city's best efforts to comfort me with the season's first stunningly romantic fog. 

Worst of all, I spent the day ravenously hungry, regardless of what I ate.  It struck me suddenly that all the things we normally eat on Thanksgiving (turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie) are dishes I only have on Thanksgiving.  The idea of waiting another twelve months till I could taste them again was somehow profoundly demoralizing, even as I tried to talk myself into situating this hardship on "grand scale of suffering," in which it occupies a portion of the spectrum that bears the label "fairly weeny types of pain."  For me, Thanksgiving is an inextricable combination of the people we always are with (who come to about 22 in number nowadays) and the foods we always eat.  Both are sublime, and the total experience is irreplaceably comforting.

With a return to blogging comes a return to blog-reading, and of late I have been catching up not just on litblogs (delightful!), but also on some favorite food blogs, like The Kitchn.  So today I want to share some of the recipes I have found in these meanderings, recipes which I fully intend to try out at soon as my flurry of December traveling settles down a bit:

  1. Sweet Potato Tart Tatin - Just look at the picture of this gorgeous dessert. D loves sweet potatoes with a fervor that only matches his disdain for, um, savory potatoes, so this might be one to try out while I visit him in California next week.
  2. The cheese in this Farmer's Mac and Cheese is a combination of garlicky, creamy Boursin; parmesan; and Swiss cheese.  The recipe also includes cauliflower (intriguing), mustard, paprika, and whatever herbs you happen to have around the house.  My parents make a sublime Mac and Cheese that they throw all their leftover bits and pieces of stinky cheese into (including goat cheese), as well as little tidbits of merguez or chorizo or whatever interesting sausage-like thing is hanging about.  I have been dying to try out their recipe (which, as you can tell, is rather more inspired than recipe-following), but I will also have to experiment with this one as an alternative.
  3. The bloggers at The Kitchn (whom I trust implicitly after they introduced me to the wonders that are Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting) swear by this Gourmet magazine recipe for a somewhat savoury Lemon Olive Cake.  Again, the pictures have seduced me.  And I haven't done any baking in my new house.  Maybe at the start of the new year....
  4. Creamed onions were never a Thanksgiving tradition at my house - our sides are more along the lines of Brussels Sprouts cooked in Venison Fat - but this recipe for Gratineed Mustard Creamed Onions has me intrigued, I have to admit.
  5. Chez Panisse is a restaurant I will always associate with visits to my paternal grandmother in Berkeley.  Even when I was a quite tiny child my parents would take me along and allow me to try whatever extraordinary thing was on offer.  I have never attempted to make meatballs myself, but this Chez Panisse recipe for Pork Meatballs with Lemon and Thyme may be where I have to start.
  6. I enjoy a good alternative pumpkin recipe in the fall, so I might have to try out this Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Ganache.  To tell you the truth, I am particularly interested by the cinnamon ganache....
  7. As part of my continuing Canadianization, I have promised D that I will try making something called Nanaimo Bars, a Canuck confection that I have never heard of before this week.  It seems to be a combination of a British style chocolate flapjack, a pudding layer, and a hard chocolate layer.  Hmmm....
I will let you know how it goes when I finally get around to cooking/baking some of these goodies. 

But in the meantime, I give you a couple of things I am thankful for, in the absence of a giant turkey and stuffing dinner with beloved friends: foods that are available to me in Halifax.

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