Student Snapshot: Thanksgiving
Emma Tenge-Rietberg is one of the founders of the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) US Student Association, and the Head of Cultural Events. She is currently in her 4th semester at RSU, and founded the society in 2019.
Emma’s mother is American but her family grew up on an “American island” in Bielefeld in the north west of Germany, meaning they spoke English at home and celebrated American holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving even though she went to a German school. When she was older, she went to the US for a high school semester abroad to experience the culture first hand.
The idea behind the RSU US Medical Student Group was to create a diverse community of students who are either American, half-American (like herself), or with a desire to live and work in the US in the future. This message clearly resonated and the first group meeting gathered 50 students!
Emma makes a concerted effort to celebrate Thanksgiving every year which this year falls on Thursday 26 November. Last year, the US Medical Student Group hosted a large dinner with two turkeys (!), side dishes and pies. This was a very popular event, and one I’m sure many students would have wanted to recreate. Unfortunately given the current circumstances, the organisation had to think on its feet and instead planned a gratefulness week via their social media. During this week, different members of the board take over the group’s Instagram stories and posts their tips for how to be mindful and grateful in their everyday lives. It was Emma’s turn on Monday, and she shared her tips for how she gets through the darker months with a focus on mental health and self-care:
- listen to podcasts (Emma recommends Oprah's Supersoul Conversations)
- write down what you are grateful for every day
- create a routine
- make time for yourself (no phone for the first 2 hours of the day!)
- make sure to go outside every day
- and most importantly – take the pressure off and be kind to yourself!
Here, Emma shares her traditional pumpkin pie recipe with us, first calling her mother who told her to call her grandmother. Emma has, however, customised the family recipe and made it her own since some of the components (like shortening, or ready-made pumpkin pie puree) aren’t available in Latvia.
Emma’s pumpkin pie recipe
All butter pie crust
- 315g flour
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 230g unsalted, chilled butter
- 120 ml icy water
- Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl
- Add the cubed chilled butter on top
- Use a pastry cutter (didn’t have that myself so I used 2 forks) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the bits of flour are pea-sized, butter and flour should not be completely mixed together
- Measure 120 ml of water into a measuring cup and add ice. Add the water 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together easily and feels a little bit sticky but not too wet
- Place dough onto floured surface and fold the dough into itself. Form a ball and divide dough into 2 then flatten each half into a 2,5cm thick disk
- Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 5 days until usage (you can also freeze the dough for ca. 3 months)
- When you’re ready to make the pie, roll out by evenly creating a circle which will fit your pie form (make sure to work the dough in every direction!). Once you have the correct size place into pie form and shape it to fit.
Pumpkin pie filling
* Usually, the recipe calls for a tin of ready-made pumpkin pie puree, but since you can’t get this in Latvia, I roasted a real pumpkin and made my own!
- 2 large eggs
- 100 g brown sugar
- 70 g white sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 500 g pumpkin puree
- 355 ml condensed milk
- 1 pie crust (previously made)
- Pumpkin puree:
- Cut a medium-small pumpkin in half
- Scrape out and remove the insides (TIP! Keep pumpkin seeds to roast.)
- Line a baking tray with cooking foil
- Place the halves face down onto the tray and bake at 175 C until you can pierce them with a fork (about 60-90 mins)
- Remove from the oven, let it cool and scrape out the pulp (if not smooth enough use a blender)
- Preheat your oven to 220 C
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl
- Add brown sugar, white sugar, salt and all the spices and the lemon zest
- Mix in the pumpkin puree
- Stir in the condensed milk
- Mix all until well blended
- Assemble the pie:
- After step 7 of the pie crust instructions, you have a pie crust in a form
- Add the filling
- First 15 min: 200 C
- 45-55 min: 175 C
The pie is done when you can stick a knife tip into the centre, and it comes out relatively clean!
Cool the pumpkin pie on a rack for about 2 hours. It will look “inflated” at first but will sink as it cools down.