“What kind of Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where’s the turkey, Chuck? Don’t you know anything about Thanksgiving dinners?”

Peppermint Patty had a point.  Thanksgiving is one of those tradition-sacred holidays when it comes to the food.  So this year– finding ourselves in China– far from the usual comforts of home (where grocery stores are sure to carry turkeys, cranberries, stuffing mix, and all the other T-day necessities) we had to work a bit harder to pull off the traditional feast.

At the outset, our friend Connie seemed fairly convinced she could get us an actual turkey.  Apparently they’re sold as pets?  However, come Thanksgiving day, the turkeys were all sold out… (coincidence?)  So we ended up scrapping the bird tradition, and purchased a chicken and a duck.  Though we had to let go of the pièce de résistance of the meal, we did manage to produce a fairly traditional (fully delicious) spread.  Stephen made bread from scratch, which he then turned into a stuffing with carrots, celery, chestnuts, and other wonderful bits.  Lisa made fantastic, garlicky mash.  Lauren used the cheese she bought in Jinan (cheese is virtually non-existent in Qufu, and we cry about this fact on a semi-regular basis) to create mouth-watering, molten mac & cheese.  Allie contributed her apartment, along with string beans and smashed sweet-potatoes.  Dana and I were on desserts.  Dana baked a very successful apple pie– the secret to which is apparently twice the amount of apples as any recipe asks.  I found a recipe for “impossible pumpkin pie cupcakes,” which I’ll include at the end of this post, because it’s just too good not to share.  The cupcakes have this great muffin/cupcake shell, but inside they’re exactly like that smooth, creamy, pumpkin pie filling we all know and LOVE.

Thus, despite being hundreds of thousands of miles away, we managed to bring a piece of home to life for a night.  And with the women dressed like fifties housewives, we proceeded to have one of the most memorable thanksgivings I’ve had to date.

Duck's blood: Comically red.

Steven's stuffing: Chestnuts-- an absolute must.

The setup (minus a few dishes).

Grateful for Connie-- whose turkey searching efforts were nothing short of heroic.

Qufu Thanksgiving: where matching aprons are alive and well.

Allie: the picture of charm in hostessing

Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Tryptophan or no tryptophan-- the food comas were very real.

And though we all missed our friends and family stateside, it’s safe to say that our little Qufu-family had a very happy Thanksgiving.

I have been terribly remiss about blogging, please accept my apology and expect another post this weekend.  Love and miss you all!

Impossible Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes:

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup half and half (or evaporated milk)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined. Add in dry ingredients and whisk until no streaks of flour remain and batter is smooth.
Fill each muffin cup with approximately 1/3 cup of batter.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. They will sink as they cool.
Chill cupcakes before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Makes 12

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~ by Jess on December 2, 2009.

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