Growing up in South Africa, everything I knew about Thanksgiving came from reading Archie comics, which meant that I knew very little at all.
If my memory serves me correctly, talk in the school cafeteria centered around Riverdale High School's annual prom, winning the affection of the illusive Veronica, and escaping the wrath of hot-headed principal Mr Weatherbee.
Blessing of the harvest, prayers and pilgrims?
Not so much.
Because Thanksgiving was such a foreign concept, it never occurred to me that this holiday would be celebrated by America's Jewish community too, and it was only when I made aliyah, and my local American friends spent much of November talking turkey, that I realized my error.
I have to admit that, despite their enthusiasm, I'm yet to get my head around over-sweet sounding dishes like yams baked with marshmallows, cranberry jelly with everything, and pumpkin as a dessert.
I also can't imagine convincing my family to sit around the dinner table and list what they are thankful for...it's hard enough to get my teenage son to share details of his school day!
You don't have to celebrate Thanksgiving, however, to appreciate this simply spectacular Pecan Pie. I've made it countless times over the years and, if there's one thing you can be thankful for, it's that I've chosen to share the secret with you here.
How to bake the ultimate Pecan Nut Pie
11⁄2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons sugar
125 grams butter/margarine, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
200 – 300 grams pecan nuts, chopped
70 grams butter/margarine
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup golden or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1⁄3 cup dark brown sugar
Preparing the pastry
1. Place flour and sugar in a food processor and blend briefly then add butter and process just till mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
2. Lightly beat egg yolk and water together with a fork, then add this to the flour mixture, and process till the pastry forms a ball.
3. Allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out dough, press into a 28cm round pie dish, and prick base with a fork.
Preparing the filling
1. Heat oven to 220C and sprinkle the nuts – roughly chop most of the nuts and leave a few remaining nuts whole – over the base of the prepared pastry.
2. Melt the butter/margarine in the microwave, add the flour, then the rest of the ingredients, and mix by hand with a whisk or fork.
3. Pour over nuts and bake pie at 220C for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 180C and cook a further 30 minutes.
Pastry base may be made ahead of time and frozen or refrigerated. You also have the option of buying a ready-made pie crust and then only have to mix topping ingredients together and bake. Don't beat the pie filling with an electric mixer as it will get too frothy. Pie may be made ahead of time and successfully frozen.