Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving preparations

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day, but not in Germany. Even though we know that it's an American holiday (the Canadians have it in October) it's weird to be in a place where Fall just flows right into the Christmas season with no holidays in between. So since we enjoy Thanksgiving and it makes us a little homesick to be away, we decided to have a turkey dinner on Saturday. And since our shipment only arrived a month ago and our apartment looks almost totally put together, we decided to make it a housewarming party too. So our friends Andy, Anne, their son Noah are coming and Tom (Dizzy) and Sonja are coming from Hamburg for the weekend. We'll have dinner with them and we have invited everyone else we know to come in the evening for drinks, dessert, and screening of football and Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special. Everyone else we know didn't seem like too many, but now we are up to around 25 people coming in the evening.

It's taken a while to plan this meal since I wasn't sure what ingredients I could get here, or what they were called even if I could. You can find fresh geese everywhere, and pieces of fresh turkey, but no whole fresh turkeys. We bought the biggest frozen turkey I could find, which is 5.8kg (about 13 lbs). It's small by American  standards but I am confident that it was once able to walk on its own. The word for turkey in German is Pute. So Brian decided to name our turkey Vladimir, after Vladimir Putin. Vladimir came out of our freezer today so that he could occupy one-third of the fridge while he defrosts. He doesn't have a little pop-up timer so I will have to get a meat thermometer. Here is is previous home:

Things like mashed potatoes and apple pie and even sweet potatoes are not hard to do here. I even found fresh cranberries at the grocery store.The trick for baking is that you can't find brown sugar like we are used to at the store. They sell a coarse brown cane sugar that tastes, well, coarse. Then an American woman at the soccer tournament concession stand told me that you can find brown sugar at the Asian grocery store. I had just found an Asian grocery store, so I went and got some yesterday.

 For stuffing, they don't sell the nicely cut cubes of bread with the seasoning already in them. So I found a recipe and am now letting a loaf of bread go stale on the countertop in the kitchen. 

Gravy is the one thing I am not interested in making from scratch. At the gourmet grocery store I found some kind of a mix for poultry sauce. It tastes pretty much like gravy, so that will work. The remaining challenge was pumpkin pie. There is no canned pumpkin here, but I have steamed my own pumpkins before and that didn't phase me much. I just had to find pumpkins. The word for anything squash or pumpkin-like is Kurbis. Gourds are called Kurbis too. So I searched for Kurbis that looked like a baking pumpkin and couldn't find one . Then I read on a Hannover English speakers Facebook page (of all places) that you can cook the Hoikkado squash and it tastes a lot like pumpkin. So I got a few and tried it. They are small, round, and reddish-orange on the outside. Here is what they look like:

Then I had to look up the word for nutmeg, and get some sort of half and half or cream or evaporated milk to mix in with pumpkin. I found all of these different creams in the dairy section, all in little yogurt sized cups. I eliminated the one I knew was sour cream and took a chance on the one that had a strawberry with cream on the package. It turned out to be whipping cream of some kind, so I was ok. I did a practice pie on Sunday and it got good reviews!

This party also requires multiple trips to the grocery store, and the liquor store. We can only buy as much as we can carry! Yesterday I rode home on my bike with four bottles of wine in my backpack and four bottles of soda and juice in my saddlebags. It's a good thing no one tried to push me over because I would not have been able to stay upright! Then I got to carry them up five flights of stairs to our apartment.

So it won't be quite the same as at home but at least we have a celebration to look forward to, and pots and pans to cook with. You probably won't hear from me until after the party, because I am getting things ready today and working on Thursday and Friday. It will be my first time subbing in the primary school, with a 4th grade class. I will let you know how everything turns out, and how Vladimir tastes.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.