November Gratitudes and Gatherings
By Julie Badger Jensen

As we gather this November let us celebrate the real abundance . . . that of joining hands with those we love AROUND THE TABLE. Let Thanksgiving be a magical place where love is felt through the mists of tradition as we look into the flickering shadows of candlelight.

Last November’s articles were devoted to Thanksgiving preparations and can be found in the AROUND THE TABLE archives. Many of the dishes can be prepared ahead and frozen or refrigerated. November is a wonderful month to make up some delightful foods to share with a friend or neighbor in gratitude or as a way of reaching out to a newcomer or homebound individual. Include children in the preparations and delivery whenever possible . . . Those little hands and hearts are sure to remember and be remembered long after the holiday season.

PUMPKIN FROZEN DESSERT

A Do-ahead Winner!

Crust

1 / 2 cup butter, melted

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into 9×13″ pan. Freeze.

Filling

1 1 / 2 qt. vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, softened

1 16-oz. can (2 cups) pumpkin

3 / 4 tsp. salt

3 / 4 tsp. cinnamon

3 / 4 tsp. ginger

1 / 2 tsp. nutmeg

1 3 / 4 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

pecans, toasted (optional)

whipped cream, for topping (optional)

Spread softened ice cream or frozen yogurt over crust. Combine pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. Fold in whipped cream. Spread on softened ice cream. Freeze. Top with whipped cream and chopped toasted pecans, if desired.

LEMON BARS

Light, Lemony & Luscious

2 cups sifted flour

1 / 2 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine

4 beaten eggs

2 cups sugar (granulated)

1 / 3 cup lemon juice

1 / 4 cup flour

1 / 2 tsp. baking powder

Sift together 2 cups flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter until mixture clings together. Press into 9×9″ pan. Bake in 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Beat together eggs, granulated sugar and lemon juice. Sift together the 1 / 4 cup flour and baking powder. Stir into egg mixture. Pour over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Cool. Cut into bars. Makes about 30.

PEANUT BUTTER BARS

A treat kids will love to make, serve & eat

12 whole graham crackers, crushed

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

1 lb. powdered sugar

2 cups chocolate chips

Mix graham cracker crumbs, margarine or butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar. Pat firmly into a greased 9×13″ pan. Melt chocolate chips (in the microwave at 20-second intervals until melted). Frost over mixture. Refrigerate. When chilled, cut into small squares.

CHOCOLATE LEAVES

A glamorous garnish for desserts

A fun family and friend activity

2 squares (2 ounces) milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate

nontoxic leaves (such as lemon, mint or ivy)

In a heavy saucepan cook chocolate squares over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate begins to melt. Immediately remove the chocolate from the heat and stir until smooth. With a small paintbrush, brush melted chocolate on the underside of leaves, building up layers of chocolate so garnish will be sturdy. Wipe off chocolate that may have run onto the front of the leaves. Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper; chill or freeze until hardened. Just before using, carefully peel the fresh leaves away from the chocolate leaves. Use as a garnish for desserts.

PEAR BREAD PUDDING

Luscious variation on classic bread pudding

12 pears (poach briefly in water), quarter and core, reserve poaching liquid

8 slices fresh brioche or white bread, crusts removed

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

3 large eggs

2 / 3 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 Bartlett pear, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced, for garnish

Caramel Sauce

1 / 2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 cup milk

1 cup pear-poaching liquid

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 10×2 inch round ovenproof glass dish with plastic wrap. Thinly slice pear quarters lengthwise, but don’t separate slices. Arrange in an attractive pattern on pan bottom. Place bread slices in two overlapping layers on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, eggs, brown sugar and salt. Pour over bread slices.

Place baking dish in a pan filled with enough boiling water to reach halfway up sides of dish. Cover pan with foil; bake for 1 hour.

Cool completely and unmold pudding onto a serving plate. Discard plastic wrap. Refrigerate pudding until ready to serve.

To make Caramel Sauce, heat sugar and lemon juice in a heavy, medium saucepan over low heat until mixture turns a deep amber color . Carefully stir in milk and pear-poaching liquid; boil for 1 minute, until smooth. Strain and use immediately.

To serve pudding, cut into slices, inserting Bartlett pear slices between each pudding slice. Serve with Caramel Sauce.

CRANBERRY SHERBET

Refreshing seasonal dessert

2 cups (1 / 2 lb.) fresh cranberries

1 1 / 2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 1 / 2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

1 / 4 cup cold water

1 / 4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)

Cook washed cranberries in 1 1 / 2 cups water until skins pop. Press through sieve; add sugar and stir until dissolved. Soften gelatin in cold water; add to warm cranberry puree and stir. Cool; add lemon juice. Freeze firm in shallow tray. Break into chunks; beat smooth with electric beater. Return quickly to freezer; freeze firm. Makes 4 to 6 servings. A refreshing and light dessert served with a cookie.

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