Monday, November 20, 2006



When I first came to Israel I didn't do Thanksgiving dinners because I was trying to be a "real Israeli" - and real Israelis don't "do" Thanksgiving. Sort of like my grandparents - who came to America and wouldn't speak Russian or Yiddish to us because they wanted us to be "real Yankees" and speak only English. Which, they decided when it was already too late, was a mistake. We never learned Russian but, in self defense, my brother and I picked up Yiddish so we could understand all the family gossip. And besides, we had to speak with my great-grandparents who only spoke Yiddish - but we thought we were speaking a form of English - what idiots we were.

Anyway - as time went on I began to feel Israeli enough so that I could continue to carry on that wonderful American tradition - a holiday which transcends any religion, race and ethnicity - and is simply an excuse for friends and family to get together and eat and eat and eat.

So for the past several years I have gotten together essentially the same group of people and cooked my heart out to do the real thing. Of course, the "real thing" also includes making Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish - except cranberries don't exist here other than in cans - and that just doesn't do it.

This year my friend, Rosaline, went to the States to visit her son and I asked her to bring back bags of fresh cranberries (Ocean Spray, of course - is there any other kind?) which come onto the market at the time she was there. And mission accompished - she brought back five bags of fresh cranberries. I was over the moon. See how little it takes to make me happy these days? And for only ten dollars!

Today - four days before the big day - begins my personal countdown to Thanksgiving. I've written out my menu - my shopping list - and my "things to do" list - even my lists have lists. Have already ordered my turkeys - yes turkeys in the plural since we can't get a nice healthy 25 pound turkey here - only 6 to 7 kilo ones - somewhere between 13 to 15 pounds each and that just won't do as one has to have leftovers and enough for doggie bags. And if you have the kind of friends I have - who know they are always welcome at my house - well, some friends I invited for Thursday can't make it but informed me that they were available to come Friday for leftovers! Which is why I need two turkeys.

I'm really a very good cook - and not a bad baker - but my nemesis is pie crusts. And for dessert for Thanksgiving you have to have pies. Apple pie and pecan pie and pumpkin pie (which nobody ever eats) and lemon meringue pie. Which all call for pie crusts. I do a great apple crisp - no crust. And a great cheese cake - a graham-cracker crust. But the other pies? I'd sooner break a nail. (tfu, tfu, tfu) My friend, Marallyn, contends that Jewish girls don't do pies - we do honey cakes, yeast cakes, chocolate cakes - anything that doesn't have a crust.

My fabulous friends have all offered to make the pies for me. But as I keep kosher at home (don't even ask - my house is kosher but my stomach isn't, if that makes any sense to you) and most of my friends don't keep kosher and the only friend who keeps kosher who will be here on The Night, the aforementioned Marallyn, doesn't bake anything requiring a crust - I'm on my own. So today I'm going to take the bull by the horns - so to speak - and make the pie crusts - my first step on the road to The Dinner. Wish me luck.

Stay Safe.


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