Thursday, November 26, 2009

So much to be thankful for

This was my third Thanksgiving in Montana, and I have much to be thankful for. Today I shared dinner with good friends, generous, warm-hearted people I admire and enjoy being with.

My contribution was dessert, a pumpkin cheesecake that might have been made with some pumpkin I grew myself (I certainly have enough of it), but I had a can of organic pumpkin puree about to expire, so I opted to use that.

I woke up early to make it as fresh as possible. The sun was rising, lighting up the fields and trees and distant hills. A beautiful day for a holiday!

One minute I was pressing down a gingersnap-crumb/chopped-pecan/melted-butter crust into the pan, half looking out at my car in the parking area and at the pasture beyond. The next minute, after putting the pan in the oven and turning around to look out the window again, I was watching in amazement as a herd of about 50 sheep grazed around my car.

I forgot to close the gate last night! It is a messy contraption of barbed wire wrapped around a few posts; with the slippery ice on the ground that makes it difficult to get a solid grasp of the parts to secure them, perhaps I should say here that I didn't really want to close the gate last night.

There was no one to take a photo of me, marching out in my jacket covering an apron covering my pyjamas, but there I was. I flapped my arms, but it doesn't take much to get a herd of sheep moving. One gal stood her ground, however, and glared at me fiercely, which startled me for a moment because I've never heard of sheep acting violently. (Now Angus cows are an entirely different story: do not get between an Angus mother and her calf!)

But then I saw two lambs who had wandered onto the lawn near my house. After I shooed them in the right direction, mother and twins left happily.

And then . . . I finished making the cheesecake. I don't know how delicious it looks in my photo, but it was good in person. That blob of orange on the side was a last-minute attempt to make something that tasted like pumpkin pie since I couldn't taste the cheesecake before I took it to dinner (I thought the others might notice a piece missing), and I wondered if it was "pumpkiny" enough.

So I whipped up a bit of cream I had in the fridge (about 2 tablespoons), then stirred in the leftover canned pumpkin (about 1/2 cup) and added brown sugar (about a tablespoon) and a big dash of homemade pumpkin spice (maybe a teaspoon of the cinnamon-nutmeg-cloves mixture). It was pretty good, too.

But best of all were the loving hands that prepared the rest of the meal, which included the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce (a canned mixture called "cowboy cranberries," but we didn't know why, and here we live in Montana), along with fruit salad, garden-grown beans and carrots, homemade rolls, and homemade apricot jam.

The local women often say they can't cook, and then they outdo anything I've ever tasted. I love potlucks here.

I hope you are as stuffed and happy as I am tonight!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Mary! Hope you're well.

    Heather and I made our annual pecan pie this morning.

  2. Oh, I wish I could be there to eat it, because I'll always remember your secret ingredient: love. Oops -- should I be saying that out loud?

  3. Have you tried pumpkin bread pudding? It's a snap to make and delivers on just about every front (apart from the flaky pastry). I found the recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Great for breakfast, too!

  4. Happy happy Thanksgiving, Mary. Looks like everything was simply delicious. And next time, maybe ask one of the sheep if they'd take a photo of you?

  5. Mmm . . . will try pumpkin bread pudding! I still have 6 pumpkins from my garden to cook, and this sounds like one good way to use them.