Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our continuing exploits in New England: Thanksgiving

I hadn't intended on writing a blog post about American Thanksgiving. It's not that unsimilar to Canadian Thanksgiving, and I've cooked Thanksgiving-type dinners before. Sure there are some cultural differences, time of year being a big one, but it also seems that Thanksgiving is the holiday of the year. It's seems that if there's one holiday you go home for in the US, it's Thanksgiving, whereas in Canada, Christmas (I think) takes priority. There's also the Black Friday thing that happens afterward, but it seems to be creeping up into Canada as well.

Let me recount to you my Thanksgiving timeline for this year.

Earlier on in the fall, September, maybe.
Andrew lets me know that a friend of ours from Italy will be in the general area for a conference and want's to know if we can host him. The answer is yes.

Still earlier in the fall, maybe October.
Andrew lets me know that our friend will be travelling with another colleague from Italy and he's keen to experience an American Thanksgiving. I like to cook, so I say, sure, we can handle that.

The week before Thanksgiving.
The question arises that the colleague will be staying with some other friends (an Italian and a Frenchwoman), can we serve everyone? Of course. A large chicken is plenty for six, and making extra sides for two more people really doesn't make a difference.

Sunday, November 24th
Two pie crusts were made and placed into the freezer (two because that's what my recipe makes, not because I was planning to serve two).

Monday, November 25th
The chicken comes out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge.

Tuesday, November 26th
 I make and bake the pumpkin pie (from scratch of course, no from-a-can pie filling for me).

Wednesday, November 27th
Andrew helps chop veggies (carrots and fennel), I put together the dressing (dressing rather than stuffing, since the chicken is too small to hold much), I make the cranberry sauce (again no from-a-can, gelatinous red goo for me).

Thursday, November 28th, Thanksgiving
I work until around noon (I am after all, still working for a Canadian employer) when I stop and have lunch.

1:00 pm
I put the carrots and fennel onto pre-roast; finish preparing the dressing and put it into the crockpot; dress the chicken (chopped garlic and herbs rubbed under the skin); and prepare the sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Everything is going swimmingly.

3:35 pm
The power flickers off. I had only just turned the dishwasher (and was also watching a movie on Andrew's laptop) so I had a momentary concern that I was somehow running too many things and had cause the outage myself. It comes back on after a few minutes and I continue with my preparations.

4:00 pm
I start preparing for the guests I expect in an hour by clearing away clutter from our living room, getting out our folding table and extra chairs, finding napkins, etc.

4:30 pm
The power goes, again. It's getting dark so I find a battery operated light, but don't quite know what to do. I check outside my apartment, the rest of the building is dark and I confirm with another tenant that the power is out in the entire building. I start to search for our landlord's phone number, but as it's growing darker it's difficult. I then take a look outside and realize none of the buildings around me have lights on. It's now donning on me that everyone in my area is in the same position. I send a message to Andrew to give me a call so I can tell him what's going on then start searching for candles.

4:45 pm
While on the phone with Andrew the power comes back on. Woot. Everything seems good, so I preheat the oven, get the chicken out of the fridge and start putting away the candles.

5:20 pm
I put the chicken in the oven.

5:30 pm
The power goes out for the third time. I relight all my tea lights, distribute them around the apartment and wait for our guests to arrive so we can decide what to do.

5:45 pm
We decide it's best to pack up and go over to our guests' house. We scramble around in the pitch dark (since there are no lights on anywhere) packing up food, extra chairs and plates, everything we can think of that we'll need. Just as we're getting ready to leave, the power comes back on, but we decide it's not to be trusted.

6:00 pm
We arrive in Cambridge, unpack everything and continue with dinner preparations. Tables are arranged so that we can seat everyone.

6:30 pm
The first bottle of wine is opened, followed by an appetizer, and another bottle of wine.

8:00 pm
Dinner is served. Good thing everyone else is European and used to eating late. The chicken is completely devoured (all I had left was the bones). Everyone seems stuffed and happy. We head home around 11:00 pm and I'm very glad that my employers are in Edmonton, so I can sleep in a bit and will still be up before everyone else.

That was my first American Thanksgiving.



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