Thanksgiving 2016

This rodeo has been done enough times here in the UK now to warrant its own traditions and quirks. This year we had guests over again because we had so much fun the last time. However, M is all about his new adopted holiday and the entire day is Thanksgiving/American themed. Like he has an “American Playlist” that plays songs with the names of states in them. And puts an American football on prominent display on the table whenever I’m not watching.

However, this is England and it means things always end up a bit unique. As usual, our Thanksgiving is on the Saturday after. That morning, I was woken up and taken downstairs to have a “traditional” Thanksgiving breakfast. As a kid a Thanksgiving breakfast was usually something small, or nothing at all. We all know the giant food pile that will appear later that afternoon. My beloved husband was having none of that and insisted on pancakes, bacon, and sausages. He probably would have made more if allowed.

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He was quite proud of his plate.

After breakfast was cleaned up, it was straight to food prep. The turkey was defrosted in time this year and the baked goods were ready to go. In his favourite spin on things, this turkey was covered in bacon. It keeps the moisture in, and it makes for a tasty snack halfway through the cooking process. The bird was draped and stuffed with well, stuffing, and then put in the oven for the next few hours. Our guests would be arriving soon.

When they arrived, we popped on the Thanksgiving Day Parade off of a YouTube link so they’d get an authentic feel of the background of a Thanksgiving Day. Mostly it ended up being interesting for the US commercials and the liberal prescription drugs ones placed through them. (Not something you see here in England.)

We weren’t going to just be watching telly the whole time though, and traditions that were forgotten last year were reinstated this year. Mostly, our two oddball games to play whilst waiting for food to cook.

The first requires at least 2 newspapers, some tape, some scissors, and a timer. You set an arbitrary amount of time that’s at least 20 minutes and make teams. These teams then must design and construct a bridge in that time frame with the materials that can hold weight. This year, the weight was a single potato. With that in mind, we were off! The competition was fierce, but fatal flaws appeared in the end and a victor emerged. I suppose we should probably use a weight that can be gifted as a prize afterwards, but we didn’t go that far this time. It was mostly the thrill of the game.

The second game is a bit unfair for whoever doesn’t have me on their team, but that’s no guarantee of success. This game involves printing out blank maps of the US states and the English counties. If feeling generous, a cheat sheet with all the names can be provided in alphabetical order. The aim is to fill them out to the best of our abilities, then swap them and check. You’d think we’d be better at this after playing it before, but it proves hilariously bad each year.

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Baltimore?

After this, food was almost ready. Kitchen help was needed for all the vegetable dishes, which is always a challenge when you have a galley kitchen. Miracles were performed, plates were laden, and turkey was carved in the end.

Just like everything else, this always ends up being a fusion of English and American, and this year was no different. We had green bean casserole and (attempted) rolls with the turkey and mashed potatoes, but there were also pigs in blankets and roast potatoes. Surprisingly the biscuits and gravy of last year did not make a reappearance on the table.

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After eating as much as we could, we all happily rolled ourselves over to the sofa to digest and ended up playing card games into the evening and having a generally good time. This Thanksgiving was another rousing success!

— Kate

And we come back to Thanksgiving (Autumn 2015)

Good lord, not even Thanksgiving last year, but the year before that. How embarrassing.

This would be our third Thanksgiving together, and the first with guests. The significant otter was excited to put our larger Norfolk kitchen to use at full effect. He was even preparing a vegetarian main course for one of our guests! In our house, he is definitely the cook – though I did get to make the desserts. (Not pictured is the pumpkin pie.)

Cupcakes and brownies and cookies, oh my!

M has taken quite a shine to Thanksgiving. I suspect this is mostly due to him getting free license to cook an absolutely massive meal full of complex recipes more than a keen desire to bring Americanism into our home. We definitely still avoid the Black Friday sales like the plague. Regardless, he had been relentlessly prepping for this day for weeks. I’m not exaggerating – WEEKS. He had a spreadsheet of foods needed, when to buy them, and when they’d go into the oven. I’m not kidding on the ‘fond of’ bit.

Finally we get to the week of Thanksgiving and it all kicks off. Because we don’t get the Thursday off in the UK (Shocking, right?), Thanksgiving is generally held on a Saturday for us. This works pretty well for frozen turkeys as the actual day of Thanksgiving is a great reminder to take the bird out to defrost if you haven’t already.

Speaking of turkeys… Did you know it is nigh on impossible to get a fresh turkey before mid-December here? Everyone likes to have them for Christmas, so they just aren’t ready before then. Trust me, I called and walked in about five different butchers around Norwich asking about this. They all looked at me like I had lost my mind. Thankfully, you can purchase frozen turkeys from the grocery store, especially around November time.

So Saturday arrived and I quickly became a kitchen widow. You know how I mentioned the whole frozen turkey reminder thing? Yeah, apparently that wasn’t quite enough time for the size of the bird we had purchased. Thankfully it all worked out in the end. There’s an upside to having a ridiculous amount of food – nobody minds waiting a bit, so long as there’s something to nibble on. And nibble on there was, as M had made a metric ton of pigs in blankets for everyone. Fun fact: pigs in blankets are two very different things in the US and the UK. Be prepared to see a few surprised looks if you don’t warn your guests. Being the blend of cultures that we are, we opted for the UK pigs in blankets for our American holiday meal.

All in all, it was a lovely meal with lovely friends, and we ended up sat around the table playing games and drinking wine until late in the evening. As everyone was winding up and going to bed, The Event happened. You know The Event. Every family has something go terribly awry every Thanksgiving. Someone burns the turkey. The sweet potatoes were forgotten. Someone says something horrible at the table and no one is able to make a swift recovery in time. Our guests were absolutely amazing, so the politics was safely not an issue. In fact, it was M and myself that managed the 2015 Thanksgiving Event of the Year.

I went to begin another round of tidying in the kitchen. We didn’t have a dishwasher at the time, so I was having to hand wash all the dishes as we went. As one would expect, it was total carnage in the kitchen at the time when I swept in to clean another load of plates. It was when I reached over the counter to grab a bowl from the back that I managed to catch the tip of our (recently refilled) glass jar of olive oil.

It fell over, rolled across the counter, and then shattered into a million pieces, leaving glass shrapnel and a quart of slick olive oil all over our brick tiled kitchen floor.

The crime scene.
The crime scene.

Surprisingly for our inebriated state, no one ended up with cuts from the glass. With the immediate danger cleaned up, the next logical step is to mop up, right?

OH MY GOD NO.

But yes, that is what we did next. Drunken logic dictated that obviously we should just get it up with some water and floor soap, so we mopped the entire floor and went to bed whilst it air dried. But when we came down the next morning, it looked like it hadn’t even dried.

Come find out, mopping is the absolute last thing you want to do when it comes to cleaning up oil spills in the kitchen. M of course was reading this the next morning as we gazed in horror at our new glossy floor tiles. Apparently you want to throw as many paper towels and cloth towels you have at it and then let it soak up as much as possible before blotting away the rest in small increments. DO NOT RUB IT ACROSS THE FLOOR.

It ended up taking about 3 months of twice-weekly mopping and letting our socks soak up the grease before it finally faded away, but at least the fond memories of the night have lasted longer.
— Kate