Pumpkin Pies and Parker House Rolls

I live in Wales. That makes celebrating Thanksgiving a certain challenge. The last Thursday of November is never a day off. Libby’s solid pack pumpkin is only available in one shop in the country, at import prices. All the implements for measuring are either metric or imperial – too little or too big for my recipe handed down from the back of a Libby’s 16oz can from a care package when I first moved here. My mother made Parker House Rolls every year, but she didn’t share her recipe, only the tradition.

This year, I decided to give the Rolls another chance – using DR as a lab rat, I proved that ten year old dried yeast does rise. As you know, DR is a musician. He is also a trained chef. Therefore, I am only allowed in the kitchen with supervision. This particular holiday menu is beyond his comprehension. He and my three sons have all been professional cooks at some point, with food hygiene as part of their training. I use my nose – if the egg doesn’t smell like Yellowstone or Lassen National Parks, its good.

To ensure that pumpkin pies are on the menu for Thanksgiving, we buy the pumpkins in October – the only time of the year they are available to be used as jack-o-lanterns for the imported Hallowe’en that has now replaced Bonfire Night. Thank goodness, since I could never condone or participate in the celebration of the torture, drawing and quartering, burning at the stake of a revolutionary.

Pumpkins are otherwise nowhere to be seen. One year, I was delinquent in my purchase but discovered that butternut squash works just as well – none of my men noticed the difference. If it smells like pumpkin … My Czech friend, Lubomír, is a proponent of pumpkin in all its glories and claims the pie has its origins in Slovakian cuisine. I cannot dispute this, being an American whose New England roots include a mother who made the best goulash and lasagne and I specialize in enchiladas.

All of which goes to show that there is more to the Thanksgiving tradition than turkey. My family always served fruit salad with a combination of canned fruit cocktail and fresh fruit, served with the mashed potatoes, Parker House Rolls and gravy.

What are your traditions, now that you’ve had a few turkey sandwiches and are looking forward to Turkey Tetrazzini?

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