Giving Thanks, with friends old and new

Thanksgiving this year was full of wonderful surprises and a nostalgic reunion. I met my friend after at least 11 years, if not more. It was the first time I met her husband, her 9 year old and her almost 3 year old. Medha bonded immediately with the older child and the girls were soon inseparable. For Thanksgiving, they decided to surprise us with an all-edible Pilgrim's Boat Dip.

They used zucchini as boats and toasted white bread as sails instead of construction paper. They scooped out some of the zucchini and filled it a cream cheese dip with garlic and dill. They were so into their no-waste and all-edible boat dip, that the leftover scraps of toasted bread were also placed on the platter to dip with.

My friend remembered my love for All Things James Herriot and came bearing audio CDs for James Herriot's All Things Bright & Beautiful, read by Christopher Timothy. We shared our experiences with raising our daughters, cried together and laughed and hugged each other. Periodically, my husband would remind us that she was his boss first, then his friend, and much much later, my friend!

I also got a chance to meet new friends for the very first time. She is a prolific food blogger and while we've talked on the phone, we have never met. She and her husband were getting away from the daily grind and chose Colorado Springs as their vacation spot. They came for Thanksgiving dinner bearing these delicious gifts.

My favorite chivda, date cake and nankhatai. All home-made. And chocolates! Yummy!

Thanksgiving dinner was as much fun-filled as it was disaster-filled. My orange burfi refused to set. So while it tasted good, it was a gooey mess. I also made Saffron Hut's Coconut Burfi and that did not set either. I used 2/3 cup sugar instead of 1 cup but simmered it for much longer but it wouldn't thicken beyond a point. I dusted it with cardamom powder and sprinkled slivered almonds. It tasted like a heavenly and more delicious version of the inside of Almond Joy. I also made
  • my spring salad, but with mixed greens instead of the spring mix. I added dried blueberries to it this time
  • beans with peanuts, my own recipe that I hope to post soon
  • til aloo, a recipe from The Cook's Cottage
  • lamb curry, since no-one but me relished turkey
  • and store-bought Malaysian parathas
Besides the two burfis that flopped, my pumpkin curry was the other major disaster. It was so major that I did not serve it. I am not sure what went wrong or if I used the wrong kind of pie pumpkin. The last time I made it, the pie pumpkin had been sitting on my counter for a couple of weeks. This disastrous pumpkin curry has a distinctive flavor of an unripe fruit even though the pie pumpkin did not look or feel unripe. I have no clue what I did wrong! Wine and sparkling cider flowed liberally through the evening and after a quick cup of chai, my new friends made their way to Colorado Springs.

Things are never dull around here and the week was full of excitement, too. We made a quick trip into Rocky Mountain National Park and walked along the frozen Sprague Lake, looking up at the mountains on the Continental Divide, or the Great Divide, if you're finicky about names.

From left to right, Thatchtop Mountain (12,668 ft), Taylor Peak (13,158 ft), Otis Peak (12,486 ft), Halletts Peak (12,713 ft), Flattop Mountain (12,324 ft)and Notchtop Mountain (12,129 ft).

The highlight of my friend's visit was a mountain lion sighting, which I missed out on. The weather was gorgeous so I sent everyone out of the house for a short hike along the trails in the Open Space behind our home. They reached the "Red Park" near the Louisville Reservoir and soon I got a call saying "I think I am looking at a mountain lion! It's too big to be a dog and it walks like a large cat." It was far enough from the park for it not to be a danger to the children. Also, the park has a fence along the Open Space which the cougar would have had to leap over. We reported it to the local Police who said they would send someone out to the area as soon as possible. Mountain lions have been sighted here before in the past year and it looks like they haven't left!

I have a brief reprieve before my next guest arrives from Australia tomorrow. I thought I would quickly update my blog with tales of our recent adventures. I have more pictures of Sprague Lake, which I hope to upload to my photoblog, Inner Lens.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Our Thanksgiving was extra special because of friends, old and new.


Anonymous said...

wow, that indeed was a very nice thanksgiving Manisha, with those wonderful gifts and above all meeting a friend after so many years. that itself is a gift on it's own.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a great Thanksgiving!:)

All home made goodies too.YUM!!

Anonymous said...

Too bad about the kitchen disasters (you had problems with orange barfi- fair warning, thanks :) ) Sometimes, it's just one of those things...just get the husband to cook for a day and take a break. If that is not possible (though it seems Medha can tackle a few things in the kitchen!) out! (remember you have to make that trip down to Denver for DOMOS?)
Have a good time catching up with friends.

Anupama said...

I know how you must have felt to see your friend after so many years. Being in England all this time,the one thing I miss the most is my friends back home.

Anonymous said...

You actually made an appearance....the summons we gave worked. Yayy !!!!!

Wow.. what a blast you guys had....too much darling.. just too much (does it remind you of Edna Mode - The incredibles? if not, nev mind)

I felt so happy just by reading your post. Those mountains are so beautiful !!! I love Colorado.

Mountain lion sighting eh? Now that's thrilling ....

Apart from the one pumpkin disaster(yes, i count that as one.. the burfis are not counted because you served them) I think your Thanksgiving rocked.


sra said...

I too met a friend after 11 years, Manisha, it was such fun! Nice effort, those zucchini boats and bread sails!

Anonymous said...

Your week sounds wonderful, friends new and old, family, good food, what more can you ask for-it's perfect.

Anonymous said...

Lakshmi, very well said! It was a wonderful celebration indeed!

Asha, these days I take inspiration from you and the fantasic spreads you lay out in your home. If it didn't mean having to go through the teenage years again, I would happily be reborn into your family as your third child!

Anita, if there weren't any disasters in the kitchen then I'd hate myself cos I'd be perfect! I know what went wrong with the orange burfi so at least that is one mystery solved! Husband? Cook? Are you kidding me? If I ask him to cook, he heads for the phone and orders a pizza. This, from the same man, who cooked idli and sambar from scratch for his friends when he was a bachelor living alone in CA. He would even cook for a friend who was a couch potato and then head out on a trek. He does help stir a dish every once in a while and is rather useful when it comes to opening jars or unclogging the man-in-the-sink cos I inadvertently let too many things down the drain. He also does excellent grocery, so while it may sound like I was complaining earlier, I really am not! :-D

Anupama, we've moved so often in my lifetime that each one of my friends is extra precious. Hugs to you, cos I know exactly how you feel!

Mythili, I quaked in my, ok! feet warmers and braved against high tides of work to make this post, just for you! The orange burfi fiasco has been analyzed and I will update my post on what not to do. :-D I still have that pumpkin in the fridge. I wonder if making parathas is an option. I can't bring myself to throw it all away - at least, not just yet anyway!

sra, those bread sails were a story by themselves. It took the girls a while to figure out that the sails need to be much smaller and lighter if they have to stand up in the boat! After a brief lesson in physics and the center of gravity, they finally figured out that the entire universe was against them having large sails and gave in and made smaller ones. You can see that they still managed to get one skewer in with large sails. As for those skewers, they got them free at Wild Oats. Yes, Wild Oats does make lapses of this nature once in a while and I never heard the end of how they didn't have to pay anything for those skewers!

Lee, in its own way, it was perfect! I was very content at the end of the day!

Ashwini said...

Manisha what a lovely Thanksgiving. Loved reading every bit of it ...okay not the fiasco part and I am sure you made it sound much worse than it actually was, but the old and new friends part.
Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

I remember reading in somebody's post about going to Colorado Springs for a break. Hmmm.. I wonder.. ;)

Lovely write-up, Manisha. The picture of the mountains is breathtaking! It must have been so much fun catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Piegirl said...

Hi Manisha, I enjoyed reading your Thanksgiving post. And thanks for dropping by my blog and your greetings. I contributed cole slaw and hot apple pie sundaes to our Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law's, and enjoyed time spent with my husband's family.

Anonymous said...

Ashwini, the burfis were very good! I think I know what went wrong with the pumpkin. It was easier to chop and peel than the last pumpkin I used. So we sliced the peel off without losing any of the pumpkin flesh. And I think we got more of the 'cheek' from the peel than I bargained for. I have 2 more pie pumpkins sitting on my counters so I should try making some more this week! I'll make it and freeze it right away so we don't get sick of pumpkin curry! And by the way, one way to test for true friendship is to offer a really awful tasting dish to your friend. If she gets a look of sheer dismay on her face, reaches out for a glass of water and then tells you it's yuk, she's the best friend you'll ever have!

Vani, ;-)
The mountains never fail to amaze me. They represent calm and might to me. I am very lucky to be just an hour away from the RMNP. I haven't had the time to upload more pictures to my photoblog. But I will. All we did was walk around Sprague Lake and then come back home cos the girls wanted to go swimming. It was worth every bit of the drive there and back!

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha, sounds like a lovely holiday all around! I see your kitchen creativity is rubbing off on your daughter -- what a clever "boat" :)

Anonymous said...

Manisha, I guess you can make pumpkin idlis with those remaining two pumpkins. There is a sweet and savoury version, both taste amazing. As you like idlis, you might like them too (unless you are like my husband who likes only normal idlis :D ).

Well....there is nothing in this world like a good friend. My husband's best friend married my best friend recently and I can't tell how much we miss them. I am very very happy that I got a new friend this thanksgiving and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Anonymous said...

I really missed having friends for T'day this year, so reading about yours made me happy. What a lovely T'day you had! Sorry to hear about the kitchen mishaps. Celebrations is not celebration unless something goes wrong, atleast in my home.:)