There are umpteen celebrations that are observed here in the USA. Coming of age elsewhere, we had not celebrated Thanksgiving so I wanted to write a bit about how I adopted this holiday. For those who are reading this blog in other parts of the world, Thanksgiving is a national holiday here in the United States. It is a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest. It is like Christmas, but without the frenzied hassle of gift giving. It is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Most folks get the Friday off too, and that allows for an enjoyable long weekend. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in the New World in 1621 after the first successful harvest. Since then, on this special day, families gather together from every corner of the country to be with their loved ones. I’d say it is probably the most traveled day in the United States, probably more so than Christmas. Planes, trains, buses and cars are packed to capacity with families making the trek to be with their loved ones. Typically on the day itself, a whopping feast is celebrated with turkey and all the trimmings. The following day is dubbed “Black Friday” this is the day the official Christmas shopping begins in all the stores and online.
When we first moved to the USA almost 40 years ago, it did not hold much significance for me, but a few years into it and I will have to say the American Thanksgiving now holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve adopted this holiday and welcome it each year with open arms. It is probably one of the most anticipated holidays that I look forward to. We have celebrated it in many ways. Sometimes with other families, sometimes with neighbors and close friends, and in the past few years we’ve celebrated it in our very own home with our own family and invite other friends, spreading friendship and warmth thus paying it forward.
Food, glorious food! Part of the excitement for me is just that – preparing the menu, shopping ahead of time and inviting friends to celebrate with us. The aromas for the couple of days preceding Thanksgiving heightens the joy of this beautiful holiday for me. Pies and rolls are baked ahead of time. I try to make some of the dishes the day before too. The turkey is prepped on the morning of, and again there’s nothing quite like the aromas of the turkey and fresh herbs permeating the air on the day itself. I had made this Apple upside-down cake a few weeks ago and thought it would be a fitting dessert to present to you all this week. Typically apple pies and pumpkin or sweet potato pies are popular around this holiday. We will have three desserts to choose from this Thanksgiving. Pumpkin and apple pies and a chocolate tart. Now onto the recipe for this apple cake.
Apple upside down cake
- 1/3 cup butter, cut up
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 6 very small red cooking apples, halved, stems removed, cored
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- a pinch of cardamom (optional)
- a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- 2 star anise pods
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- vanilla ice cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Place 1/3 cup butter in a 9x9x2 inch baking pan. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until butter melts. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter, add star anise; stir. Arrange 9 apple halves in mixture, cut sides down. Bake in oven 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly.
- Meanwhile, peel remaining apples. Coarsely shred; set aside. In bowl combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Add shredded apple, milk, 1/4 cup butter, egg and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low until combined; beat on medium for 1 minute. Spoon over apples, spread evenly (apples may be exposed, some butter may rise to the surface).
- Bake 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges; invert onto platter. Spoon any topping in pan over top. Cool for 20 minutes, serve with ice cream.
I hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving have a warm and blessed day with your families. Wishing you all peace and love this Thanksgiving holiday. Here’s a poem I always love to recite around this holiday 🙂
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner, stay off your thighs