While driving home yesterday, I was stuck in traffic for 40 minutes. Funnily, this reminded me of my hometown because the same thing is happening to people there now, only several degrees worse. It’s that special time of the year when the festive season in India is over in other places but the craziness just started in my hometown. Thousands of people are on the street, chaos rules, lights are glittering all over and those gigantic idols of goddess Jagadhdhatri are standing tall and gracefully on their lions. When I call my mother I can almost hear the missing person announcements and the instructions to not touch the decorations To me all these are memories, memories of those wonderful days which are never forgettable.
Coincidentally we are preparing for a festival too but not with the same fervor though. It’s that time of the year when all Americans are ready for the holidays. It was very different for me when I came to the US, as I didn’t have a clue about Thanksgiving. It wasn’t my festival and I wasn’t a part of the celebration either.
Things started changing a little bit at a time. Now we look forward to the holidays. We feel the same festive joy as any American (or at least pretty close, I would think). We prepare far ahead of time for parties at friends’ places or invite friends over. We exchange long emails to fix the menu, get anxious over the turkeys or legs of lamb. We buy new clothes to wear on the day, exchange gifts, laugh our heart out, eat until we can’t move, drink until we collapse and so much more. I have no family here but in a foreign land, your friends are your family…at least to me, they are.
Needless to say, we are going to visit two of our friends this year for Thanksgiving who are the proud owners of a new house. Can’t explain how excited I am to be going there and to spend the holiday with some of our favorite people, for whom my husband and I made these freshly baked pecan shortbreads.
Pecan shortbread recipe:
Pecan: 1 cup
Butter: 1 cup room temperature
All purpose flour: 2 cups
Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
Salt: ¼ tsp
Brown sugar: 2/3 cup packed
- Pre heat the oven to 350 C.
- Toast the pecan for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and toasty. Stir halfway. Break the pecan halves into smaller pieces.
- In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix well again. If you have a mixer/blender with a paddle attachment, use it. You can use a hand blender with medium speed. My husband mixed it by hand. So, you can go totally the old fashioned way.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour and the salt.
- Add the flour to the butter mixture a little at a time and fold into the butter. Do not over mix it.
- Add in the pecan pieces and then gently fold the dough again.
- Dump the dough in a cling film or plastic warp and wrap the dough. Flatten it like a disk and chill in the refrigerator (at least an hour). You can separate the dough in to two halves which will help the dough to chill faster.
- Take out the dough and flatten it to ¼” thick disk with a rolling pin.
- Line a cookie sheet with an ungreased parchment paper.
- Cut the dough with a cookie cutter and place them one inch apart on the cookie sheet.
- Place them in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes.
- Place the cookie sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until dark brown.
- Cool on a wire rack for another half n hour.
Notes: The dough will be a little difficult to handle. It will be crumbly, so you have to be a little patient. Shortbreads are supposed to be sand like in texture and require a lot of butter in the mix. The chilling is very important; otherwise you won’t be able to roll it. I like the shortbreads to be toasty and crisp, so I baked them a little longer. Traditionally shortbreads are much lighter in color.