Mérci | Xie Xie | Grazie ...

Thanks.

Today's my favorite day of the year.  More than my birthday or even Christmas.  Thanksgiving has always been an enjoyable holiday that signifies time with people I love, lots of laughter, and reminders of things for which I should be grateful.  My in-laws and the families we spend Thanksgiving with have been through a lot together, both good and bad.  For them to welcome me with such open arms from day one, well, I couldn't ask for more.  It's why Nashville has so easily become such a home for me - I was loved from the moment I moved here.

My contribution to this Thanksgiving feast is small, usually one dish (it used to be deviled eggs) and I like to bake so dessert is a natural choice.  This year I attempted The Smitten Kitchen's Cranberry, Caramel and Almond tart.

It started easily enough - my game plan was to make her Unshrinkable Tart Shell.

tartshell

It shrank.  I think it's because I didn't chill the dough before rolling it out and used the alternate method.  Never again.  How do I know this is why? The last time I made this shell following the exact instructions, it didn't shrink.

Then I made the filling.  First batch of caramel was burned. I obviously don't know my stove very well and whatever I thought was "medium low heat" was still too hot and instead of going through the stages of "straw colored - gold - nutty brown" it went from white to "I think this is straw" to "holy crap it's molasses."

I added the cranberries and almonds.  Again, it didn't look like her pictures where you could still see the caramel and it didn't look overly nutty.  Oh, I have to mention that by this point it was 10:30pm the night before Thanksgiving and I wasn't about to go run out for more sugar/heavy cream/frozen cranberries.  So I looked at her pictures, looked at what I had in front of me, muttered an expletive and shoved it in the oven.

25-30 minutes later:

TG2009_3

Now, it's not as pretty as The Smitten's tarts, but it still looks pretty good for a first attempt.  And, since only 2 pieces were left after dinner today, I think it definitely tasted much better than it looks.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving feast today.  One of the "kids" is a professional chef and he made this pork that was to die for.

TG2009

There was mashed potatoes, casseroles (brussel sprouts, green bean, sweet corn), mac n cheese and a beautifully carved turkey.  The other dessert options were cupcakes, an apricot chocolate cheesecake and pie.  We started on the meal at about 2:00pm and eight hours later, I'm still stuffed.

TG2009_1

TG2009_13

You can't see us, but the kids were being respectful and letting others get their food first.  We were hovering like vultures, formulating which morsel to pile on our plates first.

2009 was definitely my year - lots of good change, lots of new opportunities, new friends and new experiences.  It's been going really really well.  But regardless of how the rest of the year went, I know I can count on this day to be one that calms me, makes me smile and gives me something to look forward to.  I hope your Thanksgiving was as festive and fun as mine always is.