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Thanksgiving in New Zealand: Far North

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Hi all;

I'm an American teacher living and working (for three years now) way up in the Far North of New Zealand (three hours north of Auckland). It is rural and we have very limited selections in our food markets. This hasn't been a worry as I've adapted over the years to different food ingredients (and accessibility to multicultural ingredients has improved even in three years). But this one has truly stumped me.

I've been asked to go to a Kiwi family's "Thanksgiving Dinner". They have an(other) American friend who they do a big dinner for every Thanksgiving day. This year, since I teach both of their children, they've invited me as well. It's customary to bring something to a home when invited, and I'd like to bring something home-made.

If I were stateside, I'd make a pumpkin pie (not an option here, pumpkins are out of season now that spring has arrived, and our store doesn't carry canned pumpkin). Or I would do a cranberry dressing (though I did throw a couple of cans of Ocean Spray- gasp- cranberry dressing into my suitcase last trip and could spoon them out into a dish in a pinch). But here, I don't have fresh cranberries, chestnuts, pumpkin pie, or really any of the things that I consider "Thanksgiving-y".

We have all the usual ingredients, flours, sugars, etc. I have the two cans of cranberry sauce, and I also grabbed two shrink-wrapped bags of roasted, shelled chestnuts that I was allowed to bring over because it is processed. We do have the orange sweet potatoes, but I've never made a sweet potato pie before (which, done right, would be lovely). We can assume there will be a turkey and stuffing there. Maybe the basic shop carries something that would go with this? (The closest big shop I can get to is Whangarei.)

Any ideas for something "American" and "Thanksgiving-fare-worthy" to take-- shopping only at a bare-bones minimum stocked New World and Countdown? Perhaps they carry something I am unaware of? I am drawing a complete blank. Hope that my fellow CH'ers can shake me out of this idea vacuum with some suggestions. Nothing major needed, just a nice "American" touch from the new kid on the block :).

Thank you in advance for any ideas!

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  1. Hi, Thanksgiving is nearly here, so hopefully you already came up with an answer before I got here, but anyway, I was thinking that something like a Pecan Pie would work. Pecans are kind of expensive here in NZ, but you should be able to find them in the baking section at your supermarkets in the little bags about 70g. I have a Jo Seagar recipe, that I think was put out ason a Chelsea Sugar promotion. These are like little mini Pecan tarts, easy to make a very moreish. Would be perfect with a coffee after dinner for those who can't do a big amount of dessert after a big TG dinner. Google Baby Pecan Pies and they should come up. Good luck & Happy Thanksgiving!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nzgrrl

      Hi NZgrrl... not too late, so thanks on that tip. Perhaps I can find a recipe for a pecan flat shortbread sort of "tart" that could be cut up into squares. Going shopping tonight, can't get to AKL this time as it is three hours away and it's the middle of the school week. Can definitely pull together a pecanish dish... if not for Thanksgiving, then even for pot lucks, which as you know are quite bountiful here! Will definitely check out that AKL market next time I'm there, too! :)

    2. Ooh, forgot to add that there is a shop in Auckland called Martha's Backyard that carries tons of different American food. Not sure if you've been? They are in Lunn Ave, Mt. Wellington and they have a website. Not sure if they do online shopping, but you could always give them a call. Or maybe just stop by next time you get down to Auckland. Prices are higher than in the States, of course, but given the new baggage fees all the airlines seem to be bringing in, it might end up cheaper than bringing stuff back from the US next time you go.