Aside

Thanksgiving in Scotland

3 Dec

A week ago, 9 Scots and 1 American gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. 8 of the Scots discovered that pumpkin pie is tasty!

The menu reflected the culturally-blended assembly. There were:

  • Turkey
  • Turducken
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing balls, a lá Heather’s Gram (see recipe below)
  • Candied yams, with Golden Syrup instead of maple
  • Haggis
  • Peas
  • Sausage rolls
  • Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
  • Various red and white wines
  • Belhaven (Scottish cream ale)
  • Various other beers, which I can’t remember brands of
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Profiteroles
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

There were surprisingly few leftovers, and a few especially great comments. In general, the Scots all seemed to enjoy their first Thanksgiving, and the American was overjoyed to be surrounded by such good friends since she couldn’t be home for the holiday.

Interestingly, one guest said that she had expected the pumpkin pie to be more like an apple pie, with slices of pumpkin, but was really happy that she was wrong. Another guest was shocked and horrified that he’d gone the first 30-odd years of his life without having it, and would be spending the next 30 making up for it.

Another guest, who is a chef by trade, said upon arrival that another American friend of his had described candied yams to him, and he thought it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. After having a couple of helpings, he texted an apology to his friend, very glad to have been proven wrong. He wanted the recipe, and the one for the pumpkin pie.

The stuffing recipe was also requested by yet another guest.

With all the smiling faces and full tummies, the verdict on this social experiment must be: Success!

Recipe for candied yams:

You need:

  • 1/2 as many sweet potatoes as you want servings
  • Boiling water
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Syrup (Heather’s mom uses maple or King Syup. The yams served at our party used Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Use whatever kind you like. Alternatively, use miniature marshmallows.)

Steps:

  1. Slice the sweet potatoes in half, lengthwise. This is a pain in the hoo-hah, but that’s how it’s done. They won’t cut willingly, so put some muscle in it.
  2. Par-boil them until they’re fairly soft, but not quite soft enough to mash.
  3. Place them cut-side up in a baking dish.
  4. Drop pats of butter, sprinkle brown sugar, and drizzle syrup. There’s no exact science to this. It just depends on how sweet you want them.
  5. Bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, until they’re tender and bubbly. Place them high up in the oven to keep the bottoms from scorching.

Recipe for Stuffing Balls:

We always had these instead of bread rolls. They’re shaped into balls partly because they make great grab & go leftovers, but mostly because that’s how Gram always did it. This recipe is designed to make a lot, so there will be leftovers. A lot of the ingredients can’t have precise measurements, because they’re either to taste or as-needed.

You Need:

  • 2 loaves of bread (get day-old or short-dated. It’s cheaper & will do just fine since you’re using it immediately), shredded and left out overnight to get stale
  • A stick or 2 of butter
  • Vegetable or poultry stock
  • 1-2 onions
  • Celery seed
  • Poultry seasoning (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 eggs

Steps:

  1. Chop the onion and sauté it in some of the butter until soft.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in the microwave.
  3. Mix the onion, celery seed & spices (to taste) in with the bread.
  4. Add enough melted butter, stock, and eggs to let the mixture keep its shape when you form it into a ball, a little smaller than your fist (actually, make them as big or small as you want to suit your needs).
  5. Place the balls in a baking dish (or dishes) and bake at 350 F/175 C for 30-45 minutes, or until they’re firm and golden. Check them periodically and baste with more broth if they seem dried-out.
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