Philadelphia Freedom

Philly is to my mind a much-maligned city.  Last week I was told by my friend that it was obvious I wasn’t American because I had said ‘I’m very much looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Philly’.   I would like it on record that I did defend Philly quite vigorously.  There are some unsafe parts of Philly, just as there are in most large cities (metropolitan Philly has a population of over 4 million), and like many western cities it has declined in recent years.  However, from an historical and architectural point of view it is incredibly interesting.  This is the city where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, and Independence Hall (the former Philadelphia State House where both documents were signed) is well worth a visit.

We have watched the political situation in this country over the past couple of years with increasing incredulity.  We were both well aware of the system of checks and balances put in place by the Founding Fathers, but it seemed unbelievable to us that a handful of people could bring government to a total halt.  Having visited the National Constitution Center and read the history of how the Constitution was discussed and drafted, after it became clear that the then prevailing Articles of Confederation were not working, I now have a much better appreciation of the hope in which the Constitution was drafted, and how the Founding Fathers believed that it wasn’t a perfect document, but that it was one which could be amended over time to suit the needs of this new country.  I’m sure that current claims that the words they wrote are ‘God given’ would have surprised them, particularly since many of the Founding Fathers were very critical of Christian dogma.


The room where both documents were signed, and where the Constitution was discussed and drafted.


George Washington’s chair – Benjamin Franklin was unsure during the discussions whether the United States would survive, and at the end he said had watched the sun on this chair, unsure whether the sun was setting or rising on the new country.

Philadelphia has many other claims to fame.  At one time it had the only Catholic church in the British Empire where people could attend Mass openly.  It has the oldest Methodist church in the world, and the Jewish community was trading in Pennsylvania before William Penn was granted the land.  All in all we had a wonderful time.  Apart from the superb Thanksgiving spread, we ate in two marvellous restaurants, Kanella, a Greek Cypriot BYO, and Han Dynasty, a Szechuan restaurant which has just opened a branch in New York (and very excited I am too).


Dad doesn’t like this photo but it’s the only one I have of the Thanksgiving table

Anyway, as promised, here are Jimmy’s two recipes.  The measurements are in Imperial cups.  The first, I think, will particularly appeal to Andrew!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding – Ingredients

(serves 8)

  • 8 oz French bread, torn into small pieces, about 5 cups
  • 2 cups half-and-half, or half milk and half cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup dried raisins (or cranberries or combo of both)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • cinnamon sugar


Butter an 11×7-inch baking dish.  Heat oven to 350° F / 180 C.

In a bowl, cover the torn bread with the half-and-half; set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, sugars, pumpkin, cranberries, melted butter, spices, and vanilla; blend well.  Pour pumpkin mixture over soaked bread and stir to blend.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until set.

Serve with a vanilla dessert sauce or brown sugar sauce, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Remoulade Sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Creole whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds.  Use immediately or store.  Will keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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