Thanksgiving is the best holiday. It’s an opportunity to spend time with family in a completely relaxed environment; there’s none of the pressure for getting presents like at Christmas, or remembering to buy Easter eggs (though I do love Easter!), and there’s at least a bit less pressure placed on decorating. Okay, there’s a ton of cooking for Thanksgiving…but everyone can get involved, and while a feast is expected, you can choose what to make. There are lots of traditional foods – green bean casserole, yams with marshmallows, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc – but in my family Thanksgiving has always been slightly different. I grew up in a very economical household, and Thanksgiving for my family has always been a chance to be indulgent. I first learned to make croissants for Thanksgiving, for instance, and often slightly more exotic ingredients like salmon (yes, salmon is exotic by Missouri standards) make an appearance.
Being able to do a proper Thanksgiving, with a giant turkey and lots of tasty food, is definitely one of the reasons I was so desperate to move into a flat with R. To me, nothing says family more than Thanksgiving. When I moved to the UK, Thanksgiving was one of the things I missed most about home. During my first few years here, I lived in shared houses, and hosting my own Thanksgiving was really not an option. Happily, I’ve now cooked for two Thanksgivings and am planning for my third. Hooray! Menu planning is so much fun. Less happily, we still live in a tiny flat and don’t really have space to invite enough guests to create a genuine feast atmosphere. We have 4 people over for Thanksgiving each year, and even that is a tight squeeze – as you can see, the food takes up so much surface space, and the counter is covered with the chaos that comes from trying to cook about 6 dishes at the same time! Until we have a slightly bigger kitchen, I will have to have a simpler menu than I would probably like. There’s no room to make complicated things like croissants here.
The standard dishes that I do every year are:
Turkey – the biggest one I can afford/fit in the oven/find
Red cabbage – this isn’t traditional, but as my mother’s German it is one of my favourite vegetable dishes
Sweet potatoes – usually roasted
Soup – the actual soup varies every year
This year I’m changing things slightly and am going to do harvest cake with maple ice cream. When I said I was going to attempt ice cream, R looked quite frightened! I do like to set myself a challenge, but I do also get a bit stressed out when things don’t go according to plan…*ahem*. I’ve assured him I haven’t taken on too much. Still, I’m going to try to make it well in advance so I have time to come up with backup if necessary. Our teeny freezer will definitely present some issues with it. I also think I may attempt ciabatta instead of bread rolls, in spite of seeing all the disasters on GBBO. I have already done one practice run and will make sure I do another before the main event. I haven’t really started thinking about the soup I’m going to make yet. Previously I’ve made red pepper and butternut squash. This year’s soup will almost certainly be squash-based again.
Expect more ponderings on planning this splendid fall family feast!