Tag Archives | Thanksgiving

Happy … Holiday?

As someone who has now lived outside the United States for almost eight years, I’ve (almost) gotten used to living with a different holiday calendar. The UAE just celebrated the Prophet’s Birthday, for instance, but Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, and President’s Day? Pretty much non-starters here. The UAE has the additional wrinkle of operating its holidays on a lunar calendar (with the exception of National Day), and that means that holidays drift along the year: the Prophet’s Birthday won’t be on the 18th of November next year, for example.

The US is gearing up for Thanksgiving tomorrow and while the stores here have tried to stock up on “American” delicacies, it’s never easy — which grocery store has pumpkin pie filling, where can you find a turkey, what about cranberries? Regardless of the meal, however, it’s still just Thursday, here. No big deal.

Abu Dhabi has, however, adopted one of the US holidays as its own, however: Black Friday.

What’s that you say? You didn’t know that Black Friday was an official holiday? You thought it was just that day after Thanksgiving when people go Christmas shopping rather than sloth around and continue to digest?

Nope. It’s an official holiday. Google tells me so: Capitalism wins again.

 

Continue Reading · 0 on November 21, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, NaBloPoMo, shopping

The HerStories Project

It’s been a big week out here in the ‘Dhabs, I have to say, starting with the Rain Day two weeks ago.

What is this “rain day,” you ask? Well, my dears, that’s when the serene desert skies bust open and it pours, like a veritable rainpocalypse.

Or at least, that’s what you think it is if you grew up in the desert. For those of us who grew up in parts of the world with, you know, weather, it was just kind of wet and windy.  But the schools closed at noon because people were afraid of flooding. Or getting wet. Or something.

Big Event Number One.

Then? Less than a week later, schools were closed because Dubai won its bid to host the World Expo 2020.  We got the notification that schools were closing at 10:15 PM on Wednesday.  Schools closed Thursday, which was Thanksgiving Day in the US but here was — theoretically, anyway — a work day.

Big Event Number Two.

Then the day after Expo Holiday, our dear friends and neighbors hosted the fourth annual expat Thanksgiviing, with many small children, several new babies, three turkeys, the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had in my life, and way too many pies. (Although really, can you have enough pie? )

Big Event Number Three.

Then? National Day Weekend, which meant two more days off from school and work, plus parades, air shows, decorated cars, fireworks, and of course, silly string. (All you want to know about National Day: here, and here, and here.)

Big Event Number Four.

And now? As if all of that isn’t enough? Now, I’m going to blow the horns and bang the gongs for the publication of a wonderful anthology, edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger.  These two writers have put together The HerStories Project (Histories, HerStories, get it?), and have included an essay of mine in this volume, which includes writing from Alexandra Rosas, Galit Breen, and an introduction by Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy.

And THAT is Big Event Number Five, which pretty much trumps all the others.

Guess what? You don’t have to admire the book from afar — oh no,  my friends, you can get one for your very own self.  Plus it’s holiday season, so you can get one for pretty much everyone else you know. See? Holiday shopping, fait accompli.  You’re welcome.

 

 

Continue Reading · on December 6, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, Books, expat, Feminism, reading, UAE, writing

food for memory

I left most of my cookbooks in New York when we moved out here. With epicurious and all the other food websites (dinnerdujour, anyone? or the fantastically named ezrapoundcake?)  I figured I could use that space to pack more of Caleb’s important Sticks and Rocks. I did, however, bring my binder.  A binder with recipes in it, not women (thanks Mitt, for an image that will never, ever die).

At some point before we moved, in a fit of organizational madness, I got tired of all the random bits of paper floating around the cabinet where I kept my cookbooks, so I bought a binder and got all Martha Stewart, with little dividers and thematic details (all the tomato recipes clustered together, for instance). I even had a section for “wine,” a hopeless thought if ever there were one. Mostly I buy “that stuff I had that one time at the place with that tapas.”  And that selection process is a significant step up from purchases made on the basis of whether or not I liked the design on the label.

So I had this binder, jammed full of random bits (because the Martha-method of organization didn’t last more than about six months), and I brought it with me. Before we moved, I weeded out the recipes (was I ever really going to make a seven-layer cake? Not if my life depended on it. Ditto fondant. Ditto anything that involves large quantities of anchovies), and so when I arrived in my new dun-colored Abu Dhabi kitchen, the binder had become a collection of greatest hits, tried-and-true, and the occasional Pulling Out All The Stops (beet napoleons from Cooks Best Illustrated).  I still get recipes off the internet but more often than not, I turn to the binder.

Thanksgiving, of course, requires a lot of binder-time. Thanksgiving, more so than Christmas or birthdays or any other holiday, is when I feel furthest away from my regularly scheduled life in New York. The reassuring – and rather bizarre — idea that everyone (or most everyone) is sitting down to eat some version of the same food, for the same reasons…it’s not easily translated to other countries, most of which lack a parallel holiday. Luckily, we once again this year were invited to a Thanksgiving feast by the friends who took us in last year – and once again, I offer up hosannas in praise of colleagues and friends who are also excellent cooks. It wasn’t my good china on the table and the babies clambering around weren’t related to me, but nevertheless it felt good to be cradled in the comfort of ritual.

As I puttered around my kitchen making my mother’s dill bread, Suzanne’s carmelitas, my aunt’s vinaigrette – all recipes from the binder – Liam wandered into the kitchen and begin to flip through the binder pages, which are transparent sleeves into which I’ve slipped emails with recipes, clippings, jotted recipes gathered from friends.

“This isn’t really recipes,” he said. “It’s like a whole book of memories.”

Maybe that’s the real reason I left the cookbooks in New York but brought along the binder. The cookbooks are just recipes but the binder is history.

As my special Thanksgiving present, the recipe for Suzanne’s oatmeal carmelitas (which for all I know, came from the back of a package somewhere, but in our house, they come from Suzanne):

14 oz bag of light caramels (your basic Kraft are fine); 1/2 cup evaporated milk or light cream; 2 cups each of flour & quick cooking rolled oats; 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1 t baking soda; 1/2 tsp salt; 1 cup melted butter; 1 cup semisweet chocolate bits; 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Heat caramels in heavy-bottomed pot with cream, then let it cool slightly

Combine rest of the ingredients, except for chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re using nuts) in a large bowl to make a crumbly mixture.

Press 2/3 of mixture into greased 13×9 pan. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes (slightly browned at edges); remove pan from oven

Sprinkle with chips and nuts, pour caramel over top of chocolate chips, then sprinkle top with the remaining oats mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then chill for 1-2 hours before serving (do not attempt to cut these into slices until they’re really cool, or they will ooze into a gooey (but delicious) mess.

If you can’t find caramels, which is weirdly hard to find in the UAE, you can make your own caramel sauce or use dulce de leche sauce from a jar.

 

 

as you sit there, still reeling from tryptophan, why don’t you click over and see what’s cooking in the yeahwrite kitchens? 

Continue Reading · on November 25, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, family, food, lost in translation, NaBloPoMo, UAE

As-salaamu aly akum

We’re a long way from home today, on Thanksgiving.  I mean, we’re a long way from home all the time, but on a day like today it’s a little bit harder than usual.  Usually I’m scurrying around the kitchen making a mess, swearing occasionally, but mostly loving that I’m cooking for people I love (why that feeling doesn’t carry over into the regular work week, I have no idea).  But today…nah. Just a regular day in Abu Dhabi.

A group of friends are getting together on Saturday for a big Thanksgiving feast, which will be lovely (and tasty). (Note to self: always find expat community comprised of fabulous cooks.)  We are lucky–thankful, even–to have a community of smart, funny, interesting people who have helped us feel more at home, and later today there will be phone calls to dear ones in the States, all of whom we will see in New York over the winter holidays.

So, as they say, As-salaamu aly akum–peace be upon you.  I hope you’re all with people you love (or at least like a little bit) on this holiday:

 

Continue Reading · on November 24, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Travel, UAE

Thanksgiving

IMG_3546.JPGSometimes, frankly, it seems like everything is just going to hell in a handbag: violence, poverty, hunger, disease, pollution…and that’s just in New York.

We need this day of Thanksgiving – a pause that makes us remember all that we do have, reminds us that we can fight back against the sludgy tide of greed, inertia, and despair.

To that end–a poem by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

 

picture taken by Caleb at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

poem reprinted from Mary Oliver Online Poems

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