By Isa Covo
What do we think about when we think about November? There may be other guesses, but there is one essential one and that is Thanksgiving.
There is the meal of course: the turkey, cornbread, many vegetables, different pies (usually pecan and apple). There are also the guests—those who live nearby and others who cross the country, even oceans. It’s good to see them all at such a convivial occasion.
But there is another aspect to Thanksgiving, the real meaning of it when we reflect about our lives and the world at large. In general, we are thankful for still being here, for having a family, for little children bent on rearranging our apartment, for grandchildren who have reached adulthood and still find us interesting, for friends, for living comfortable lives in relatively good health, for sharing in an environment which suits our lifestyle and more.
It is unfortunate that some people in our country do not have much to be thankful for: the lonely, the homeless, the sick and those who can’t afford treatment. There are those who lost their homes, sometimes their towns, to fires, hurricanes and floods, those whose farms and cattle are suffering from droughts.
There are war-torn countries where millions of people have lost their homes, their neighborhoods, often their lives; there are also those who flee repressive regimes and those in search of better lives than the ones they have in their home countries. A legally protected refugee told me she would love to return to her country of origin and family but cannot find a decent job where she came from. There are refugees who need help but can’t find any and have no place to settle. Whatever our source of the news, the newspapers, television, and the internet make it difficult for us to ignore these painful and tragic situations during our celebratory times.
I know that many people are helping, donating their time and money, but not enough of us do. It is also true that whatever the number of people invested in helping, if there is war and unrest around the planet, suffering won’t end anytime soon. However, some small acts of personal kindness will be gladly received by those who need them; if you know someone who is lonely, impaired, or homebound, a short visit or phone call is a nice thing to do. If possible, perhaps you could ask if they need help with some shopping or anything else, and for those who are mobile, but still lonely, offer to take them out to have coffee, a meal at restaurant, or a movie; they will be grateful. If a neighbor hasn’t been seen in some days, call to inquire if all is well. People need us, we must not abandon them.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember that Mr. Rogers asked, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
By Isa Covo
Pecans are one of my favorite ingredients, whether pecan rolls, pecan pies, toasted with spices, chopped, or toasted and sprinkled on roasted peaches. The pie recipe below is less gooey than the traditional one, very delicious, and is just right for Thanksgiving or any time one is in need of a pecan sweet.
For the crust:
- 2 cups unbleached cake flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan
- 1 large egg
For the filling:
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 cups pecans, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Grease generously a 7.5 x 11-inch rectangular baking pan.
- With a heavy knife, or a half-moon chopping blade (mezzaluna), chop the pecans coarsely.
- Prepare the crust: in a medium bowl, sift together the flour and the sugar.
- Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and break the egg into it. Beat the egg slightly and combine it with the flour mixture until the mixture forms a soft smooth ball.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle and line the prepared pan on the bottom and about halfway to the sides. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 350F.
- Set the rack in the middle of the oven. Blind bake the crust in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a deep saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar, honey, and vanilla and stir to mix. Stir in the chopped pecan meats to cover them completely with the butter mixture. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Remove the crust from the oven and spread the pecan mixture over it evenly. Return the pie to the oven and bake an additional 35 minutes, or until the sides brown lightly.
- When the pie is ready, transfer it to a rack and cool completely before unmolding.
- Present the pie whole or cut it into rectangles, squares, diamonds, or any way you chose to serve it.
24 pieces or more, depending on size.