Dearest blog readers!
On Thursday November 26th was Thanksgiving in the USA. It's a national holiday in the US and this means Daniel didn't have to go to work. :-) I wanted to celebrate this holiday with some friends. Our guests were Felicia and Johannes, Konni and Britta. All from Germany and so five Germans and one Portuguese celebrated the American Thanksgiving in New York City. Although it was actually even more international as Felicia is half Italian and Johannes half Danish.
Like a Needle in a Haystack
Felicia and Konni found me through this blog. Isn’t that incredible?! There is this world wide web and then they found me! And it’s not because my blog would be very known. It is because my German blog is linked on a website that talks about Germans in the USA. This site has a ton of information about the whole process and as well many different blogs from Germans which live all over the USA. In the Google search that website pops up first.
Felicia and Johannes are living since January 2015 in NYC and Konni moved here in September. She also works in Deutsche Bank like Daniel does, but a different department. And I knew her before Daniel, although he works there. Hehe, isn’t the world a small place sometimes? ;-) Britta is a friend from Konni and was visiting her over Thanksgiving and I invited her as well.
If you might wonder why Daniel has a mustache…it has to do with “Movember” (play on words Mustache - November). Movember is an annual charity fund-raiser organized to raise awareness and support for men's cancers. 'Mo Bros' participate by growing a mustache for the 30 days of November, and in doing so become walking, talking billboards for cancer awareness. The whole November Daniel let grew this mustache and collected around $140.
In Germany there exists no Thanksgiving in the way of the American Thanksgiving. Of course there can’t be, as our German story does not include Native Americans and Pilgrims. But we have a Harvest Festival - it’s called “Erntedankfest” (Thanks for the Harvest Feast) and the churches usually celebrate it on the first Sunday of October, but there is no fixed date like in the USA (last Thursday in November). In my home church (a German Baptist Church) we had a special “Thanks to the Harvest” service and people usually could donate food for the poor. At the same Sunday there was usually coffee and cake and some program in the afternoon in the church and many came. But it is not a family holiday celebrated in homes like the American Thanksgiving is. To learn more about the tradition and history of the American Thanksgiving follow this link: Click.
On the one hand Thanksgiving is about being thankful, on the other hand it’s mostly about the food. At least that’s what the locals were telling me. This blog post will contain both parts and I am going to start with the food. That’s probably not a surprise, isn’t it? ;-)
The most important part of the Thanksgiving dinner seems to be the turkey! They also call it “Turkey Day” here. We bought ours two weeks before. It was frozen and weigh almost 19 pounds (8,5 kg). Poor Daniel had to shlep this gigantic frozen bird in our backpack home. And the turkey had to thaw for five days in the fridge! Maybe you wonder what a German girl knew about making a turkey. Well, I didn’t now anything about it, but I was a quick learner and Pinterest and YouTube were my biggest helpers (as so often in this country). I learned about the do’s and don’ts and in a tweaked form we’ve made this recipe: Click.
I just added oranges to have a sweeter taste in the end and we also had a bit different roasting technique.
Tataaa, here you have the gorgeous browned turkey! The smell in the whole apartment was divine! Underneath the skin of the turkey and on top of it came a super tasty herb butter before it went into the oven. It had of course tons of butter and sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic and salt. The herb butter helped the turkey to stay moist during the four hours in the oven and also brought great flavor to it. Check out the video if you wonder how to put butter underneath the turkey skin. Daniel did that and I didn’t envy him. ;-)
Daniel was also the one who carved the turkey.
Here’s a picture from the making of. Daniel and I in our Portuguese aprons (we got them for our wedding - thank you Alexandre for that neat idea, the aprons are in use all the time!). On the kitchen cabinets you see some of the recipes. The counter tops were all filled with things, so no space for recipes laying around. At the right hand from us you can see Felicia and Johannes. They prepared the salad they have brought.
I think you can see that everybody was in a good mood. Even I was, although I was a bit stressed juggling all those balls and having four guests around. But I must say I am way more relaxed than I used to be and that’s great! :-)
Konni and Britta were standing right beside us and could see us running around. They had already brought their food all cooked and baked.
The two of them went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in the morning. Here are two of the balloons they saw there.
The table is set
As little welcome gifts I’ve made little pumpkin pie’s for each guest. And I created little paper turkey to wrap them in a cute way.
The china that you see I inherited from my maternal grandmother. I used it for the first time. It made me really happy that I had the chance to use it for that special Thanksgiving celebration.
Felicia made the healthiest dish that also had the lowest calories. It was a very tasty salad with baby spinach, dates, apples, roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and cheese.
Parts of the carved turkey on the platter - dark and white meat so that everybody could have their pick. Behind the platter you see the gravy.
The stuffing can be cooked inside the turkey or in an extra dish. I preferred to make it on the side, as that made the cooking of the turkey more evenly (at the least that’s what I learned in the Internet). The stuffing had bread cubes, celery, onion, carrots, thyme, broth and butter. Germans don’t make stuffing, but it felt reminded to Bavarian Bread Dumplings. The difference was that the stuffing was more crunchy as it’s baked in the oven and the bread dumplings are cooked in water.
Cranberry Sauce you eat together with the turkey. In Germany we have just one dish with Cranberry Sauce and that’s baked Camembert. Usually in Germany you don’t mix sweet and savory food so much. For the non American readers from you. The berries on the table clothes are fresh cranberries. I used some left over ones as decoration. The others I sorted out (there were some bad ones in it as well as some with stems), added water, freshly squeezed orange juice and of course sugar. You have to add sugar, because as John Oliver said once “Cranberries taste like cherries that hate you.” Cranberries aren’t very good eaten like this, but with sugar and cooked until they pop up they taste yummy. (Recipe)
Konni brought fresh corncobs. She even peeled the corn herself and cooked them. On the picture you see how the butter melts on top of them - yeah, you can’t be greedy with butter on Thanksgiving ;-)
Konni also baked corn muffins. For Germans corn muffins taste like cake. Everything baked that’s sweet it’s cake for us (dry cake - and then their are the cream cakes like Black Forest Cake and so on). I found it so nice that unconsciously Konni bought the right color of muffin wrappers. Yay, they matched the table decoration! :-) (Recipe)
Mashed potatoes are also a traditional component of the Thanksgiving dinner. I went a little over the top, but I wanted to make some very special ones. I used the red skin potatoes and Daniel scrubbed them very good. Because the peel is so thin you can cook them with the peel. When you mash them the peel gives a nice pop of red in the yellow. We added chives, milk, cream cheese, grated parmesan cheese and of course butter. Those were the yummiest mashed potatoes ever! Fluffy, creamy, cheesy and beautiful to look at! I could have taken a bath in them (that’s a German saying, when you like something a lot). Daniel has quite a mashed potato talent. *thumbsup* (Recipe)
Sweet Potato Casserole
For the American readers this is a normal picture, but for Germans this is one of the weirdest dishes EVER! A sweet dish for the main course? And then it is topped with marshmallows? Gee, that’s dessert! The first time I ate sweet potato casserole was on Christmas 2009 in Indiana (thanks Kathy Carter for making this one of my most favorite dishes!) and it felt so strange for me in the beginning. Maybe for the first bite and after that I just loved it! It was just such a taste but explosion in my mouth to eat the savory food together with the sweet. In Germany you don’t have that usually. And to cook with marshmallows is funny for us as well, because they are a kids candy for us and have nothing to do with cooking (and even not with baking). Well, it was funny to see the reaction of the four other Germans and of Daniel. They needed a moment to overcome their little shock and then they loved it as well. :-)
The version I made was a bit different, because a wanted to have a crunch it the dish and not just have the more doughy consistency. So I made a crumble topping with flower, sugar and butter and then topped that with some pecans. After that was in the oven for 30 minutes I added the mini marshmallows and let them brown a bit. (Recipe)
Green Bean Casserole
That’s another traditional Thanksgiving side dish. It’s not just green beans, but green beans in a creamy sauce with fresh mushrooms, onions, herbs and bacon bits. I think I don’t have to explain that I didn’t use any cream of mushroom soup, but made everything from scratch! That was my own challenge - to make that whole Thanksgiving dinner from scratch. In my opinion the taste was divine and I knew exactly what everything had - nothing artificial and that tasted great!But people you know that a perfectionist is talking here. Please don’t feel offended if you make it a different way. For me it was an experience I wanted to have. I wanted to know how it feels and tastes if I make everything from scratch. And I wanted to see if I capable doing this. (Recipe)
All this yumminess was topped with french fried string onions. Daniel and have never deep fried anything in our lives. Now we know how it’s done! ;-) Daniel was the frier master while I was making the green beans yumminess. (Recipe)
Digestion time is game time!
After we ate all way too much we played the game “7 Wonders”. It’s an awesome game. It’s a big like “Settlers of Catan”, but more complex and it’s not so easy to see who is going to win. It was my big desire to play that game, because usually I can just play with Daniel and he is so good and in most of the cases I lose (not a good feeling at all, I tell ya’!). So we taught the others how it’s played. Poor Britta had a hard time, because she was so tired and suffering from jet lag. In the end Felicia won.
Usually Americans are watching American Football on Thanksgiving. But nobody of us is a fan and also we don't have a TV.
And after a while there was free stomach room again. Not much, but a bit and we could have dessert. What’s live without dessert? :-) We had pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Thanks to Andrea Carter for the recipes! Felicia made the pumpkin pie and I made the pecan pie.
I tried to have mini pieces to try both of them.
And who liked could have hot cocoa with mini marshmallows. We drink hot cocoa in Germany, but the marshmallows are something I just knew from American movies. This year I tried it for the first time and I must say it’s delicious! :-)
Full, happy and grateful
Before the dessert everybody had the chance to say what they are grateful for.
This year I am grateful for many things. Here are some of them:
- I was especially grateful to host this Thanksgiving dinner. To be blessed with this beautiful and homy apartment and to have people that started becoming friends around our table. What a blessing! It felt like having my own little church that fits around a table. :-) I also was so excited to play 7 Wonders and appreciated everybody’s patience in learning very much.
- I am so grateful that God used this blog to bring Felicia, Johannes, Konni - as well as Britta - together in this city and country that’s still mostly foreign to us. It’s good to have friends at home, but it’s essential to have friends when you are living abroad!
- I am always incredibly thankful for my dear husband Daniel! He is the best thing that ever happened to me and God’s biggest blessing in my life. Without him I would have never learned and felt how unconditional love feels.
- God is good to us. He guided us to New York and we are happy here. For the first time in my life I get a glimpse of what freedom in life means. In reflecting with myself and with God I more and more get a feeling and idea for my life’s calling. A part of the calling is definitely this blog. Another part is to cook for people with lots of butter.
For what are you thankful this year? Leave a comment, I’d like that. :-)
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