A very belated Thanksgiving post (in which I do not make turkey, but obviously dessert)

Woah, October 23 already? Yeah, I know, we’re now almost closer to American Thanksgiving than we are Canadian. Shame on me.

It has been exactly two weeks since I made these pumpkin toffee tarts with my mom. In fact, it was probably about two weeks ago at this exact time that we were making them – my mom crushing up the Skor bars, me mixing the pumpkin filling and less-than-sleuthly stealing large masses of said chocolate.

The pre-purchased mini pie crusts. That's right, we cheated.
The inner-tart with a toffee base

But before I talk about the pumpkin toffee tarts, lets talk Thanksgiving. That was, after all, why I was at home.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel home every year for Thanksgiving since starting university. The past few trips have become much more family-oriented, which is to say that I let my parents spoil me, play more frisbee with my brother and watch more episodes of Criminal Minds with my mom.

This time around, I also gave in to their life long request of daily exercise. My parents have always been (and rightly so, I suppose) huge proponents of daily outdoor time. This made me miserable as a child. Temper tantrums accompanied trips to the cross country ski trails, whining would ensue while hiking,… you get the picture. Child Hilary was probably the exact opposite of child Brittany.

But now that I’m old, wise and mature (read: 21, still naive and more than occasionally a child), I decided a change of attitude was in order. The nagging of outdoor time has become less of a nagging and more of a necessity in my everyday life. I’ve started night jogging again, which is always nice. And I still bike places. Even in the rain (see: embarrassing skunk stripe of wet up my butt as I bike in the downpour).

Here! Have a pretty picture of leaves.

There was lots of daily outdoor time this Thanksgiving, thanks to Mother Nature who made the entire weekend a beautiful 25°C. It was seriously hot. All the fashionable fall clothing I brought home was laid aside. In its place, my mom’s stretchy workout shorts. Hell yeah.

On Saturday my mom, dad and I went hiking at Onaping Falls, a trail just a short distance out of Sudbury.

Mom and dad, being cute

Monday was another beautiful day, so we went kayaking as a family on Ramsey Lake. It was beautiful and I only pouted a little bit. I wrapped my iPhone in a plastic ziploc bag and tried to take some artistic shots on the water.

It was a lovely, relaxing weekend and exactly what I needed.

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Autumn defined in one meal: Pumpkin and meatball risotto

As you have witnessed over the past few posts, Thanksgiving home time gave me the excellent opportunity to reboot and rekindle my dearly beloved blog. This pumpkin and meatball risotto was the final meal I made for my family on the Monday evening before returning to Ottawa.

It, of course, used pumpkin, my favourite food during Thanksgiving and the subsequent October weeks. Like many wonderful things, I found the recipe on Tastespotting, and quickly worked to recreate the masterpiece as best I could.

And as per usual, no dish is made without its challenges. As soon as I saw a mention of meatballs, alarm bells went off. The last time I tried the make the spherical delicacies at home, bad things had happened. Many things could have factored into my previous failure, including a lack of non-stick pan, my mom’s psychotic cycling heat oven, too much egg in the meatballs or all of the above. That batch of meatballs became meatcubes became meat pancakes. Before I knew it, things weren’t looking so hot. Many cautions were taken this time around to avoid duplicating what is now known as the famous Swedish meatball incident.

September 2010's failed meatball attempt. Womp womp.

The first of these precautions was to use my mom’s only non-stick pan. I knew from the start that this medium-sized pan was not going to be large enough to make the entire meal, and that transferring the meatballs over at some point would be inevitable.

Happy, cooking meatballs

Luckily, my choice was a good one. Perfectly shaped meatballs bubbled and bounced about in the melted, popping butter. Potential disaster number one: averted.

My second issue: in no way does pumpkin enjoy being grated.

Like, not at all.

Being the sometimes (read: always) unprepared amateur chef that I am, I left the pumpkin preparing until the last second. As in about four minutes before I was to add it to the already cooking, half-completed risotto.

I quickly realized that I had to both hull and peel the pumpkin before going any further. I swear, you have never seen a girl scoop the innards out of a pumpkin so quickly. Then, it was time to grate. You know how sometimes you grate something and more ends up on the front of the grater than in the back, grated pile? Yeah, well that happened. A mess was made and half of the kitchen counter was covered in a light, pumpkin dandruff. I paint an appetizing picture, n’est ce pas?

Anyways, about 15 minutes later, the pumpkin was done, and added to the mix. Finally.

Just for good measure, I added in some nutmeg, which, combined with the white wine, led to an extremely flavourful dish.

Speaking of flavour, my dad paid me a lovely compliment that went something along the lines of how my food is no longer just nice looking, but now also has complex and delicious flavours as well. He says I’ve improved. I am proud.

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