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11 October 2013

Thanksgiving in Australia, Take 5

Hard to believe, but this will be my 5th (Rob's 4th) Canadian Thanksgiving in Australia.  Turkey has become somewhat more common in QLD since my first attempt to put on a dinner. The first turkey had to be ordered 6 weeks in advance, and cost $75.00 for a 15 lb bird.  This year's turkey will be about $35.00 for the same, ordered a week in advance. Some of the other things that can't be had in Oz: Cranberry sauce or fresh/frozen cranberries are scarce, except around Christmas. And canned pumpkin cannot be gotten at all, except for, at $12.50 per can. But the Thanksgiving show must go on! So I've learned a few tricks over the years:

  I have found a recipe for making it from dried cranberries which is awesome, courtesy of chowhound:

dried cranberry sauce for thanksgiving:
1 1/2 cups dried craisins
3/4 cup water or preferably cranberry juice or pomegranate cran mix
1/3 cup sugar
dried orange peel, real, orange
1/4 tsp salt
peel, orange marmalade, or orange juice instead of water
add all ingredients and boil lightly until the cranberries plump up. then add 2 tbl of cornstarch to 4 tbl of water and add it slowly while at a slow simmer till it is thick and of the right consistency.

My family's pumpkin pie recipe is amazing, and I have tweaked it to work with a pumpkin that has to be cut, peeled, boiled and mashed:

 Pumpkin Pie

Cut up and peel and cube a pumpkin or part thereof. Boil or steam until soft. Mash or run through a food processor.
Now, for every 2 cups of mashed pumpkin, add:

3/4 cup sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried ginger, nutmeg and allspice
1/2 tsp salt
a whiff of cloves and chili powder (optional)

Mix this into the pumpkin.
At this point, you can freeze the filling.

Or you can keep going and add:
2 eggs
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup of skim milk powder (the original recipe calls for 1 cup milk, but boiled pumpkin has too much water, so the result is soggy if you don't use powder)

Mix together and pour into a prepared 9" pie tin. Bake at 400oF (200oC) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325oF (160oC) until a knife comes out clean.

This year we are expecting about 18-20 people for dinner tomorrow. It should be heaps of fun!

06 October 2013

News for September and October

Baby Kangaroo (click for more pics)
  We are now on the Sunday of a three day holiday weekend.  Monday is Labour Day, it was moved from May to spread out the public holidays more evenly over the year.  Yesterday we were heading into town to go to the butcher.  We were looking for a turkey for our regular Thanksgiving party next weekend.  As we were crossing the bridge we saw some people rafting on the river and a gathering at part on River Street.  We decided to take a look.  While there we saw a booth for the wild animal rescue society.  They had baby kangaroos, wallabies and possums.  One of the local art galleries was also wrapped in knitting. After the park we did get to the butcher, and did get a turkey for Thanksgiving next weekend.
Eungella at night (more pics)

  A couple of weeks back we went camping at Eungella National Park.  We tried an experiment.  We put a queen sized air mattress in the back of my work van (a VW Caddy).  It worked quite well except that when we left Mackay it was 27 degrees C, but overnight it got down to 7C.  We did not pack enough blankets for such temperatures.  Nearly froze by morning. While there we did get a fleeting glimpse at a platypus, saw several turtles and of course, bush turkeys.  In the morning the clouds were below the height of the range, so we got to see a cloud covered Pioneer Valley and beautiful sunlit clouds.  (Pictures are here)