This was our first Thanksgiving away from Knoxville, Tennessee. I had been falling in and out of daydreams about it for a few weeks running up to this week. I'd think about how it'll be when we're in Knoxville for Thanksgiving, then catch myself remembering that we were going to be doing it ourselves here in London. Then I'd have a pang of homesickness. Then I'd have an even bigger wash of panic through my belly.
Were we going to be able to replicate a true Thanksgiving dinner all the way over here? On our own? We'd both been a part of making the dinner with our respective families before, but had never been in charge or responsible for executing the meal on the whole.
In usual fashion, we decided to go overboard: we invited ten people.
I mean, we often fail at simply feeding ourselves, much less twelve people in total.
The week was equal parts cooking, shopping, and finishing all of our leftovers. Being that we have a mini-fridge, there isn't that much room for storing prepared food for Thanksgiving dinner and the ensuing leftovers.
Parents always say, "You'll learn when you have kids," to signify that no one ever really knows what goes into general life stuff until they have kids. We got a taste of that this week. Cooking this big important dinner, trying to combine traditions, make it all come out right, and balancing the rest of life was a real lesson into the world of the Thanksgiving food preparer. I thank both Melinda and Patti for previous Thanksgiving meals - I don't know, but I've had a strong intro to Thanksgiving 101.
The cooking started on Monday. Kenz did most of it, if I'm being honest. She started the week with cornbread for the stuffing and making this sweet pie crust:
|Note that the rim is leaves.|
|45 pieces of toast in all.|
|Tom Turkey's little brother, Timmy.|
|Pumpkin, Cranberries, REAL coffee, Chalula, Copenhagen, Salsa, and REAL tortilla chips!!!|
|Rudolph in Covent Garden|
When we got home, Kenz put us to work. Lisa and I made the stuffing as Kenz made more pies.
Now, about the stuffing - the recipe comes from Big Mom, Melinda's mother, who had been the matriarch of Thanksgiving as I grew up. Mel still uses her recipe to this day, as it is simply the only way to cook stuffing. In fact, I never had stuffing of any other type before I was about twenty four years old. You know - the kind that just kind of sprawls all over the plate and requires a strategic approach. I don't do that kind of stuffing. It's either too salty or doesn't stick together or comes out of the turkey (which doesn't work well for my juvenile mind).
As a result, I'm a bit particular about the preparation of this dish. It's a living memorial, it's the best way to cook it, the best way to eat it, the tastiest, etc. It is tradition. And what is this holiday for if not tradition.
Why am I saying this? Because I was obnoxious when teaching Lisa how to mold the stuffing loaves. We set out to make 5 batches.
|That was a lot of chopping. No, bananas are not a part of the recipe.|
|Per batch: 2 cups stale cornbread, 9 slices of day old toast, 3/4 cups of diced celery, 1 diced onion, chicken broth/stock|
|OH, the smells!|
|This is how we treat our guests...|
|Kenz telling her story...|
At about 11pm, we called it quits. I mean, Lisa had been travelling since 3pm the previous day, walked around london for 4 hours, and spent another 2 hours preparing food with us. We thought she could use the rest.
Turkey day started with Lisa and I going to get some more supplies from the center of London. I had to get a roaster and some real knives. She then went walking around town for the afternoon. Kenz was in class.
I spent the afternoon cooking by myself! Can you imagine? This guy didn't even know the difference between chopped and diced two months ago. Yet there I was, jamming out to tunes, finishing the stuffing, peeling potatoes, and cleaning the house! Boom!
Of course I went crazy with the camera out of surprise/pride:
|The perfect one. Yes, I ate it right then and there.|
|This was half the potatoes.|
|Timmy ready for the oven.|
|I broke the knives in properly.|
|Rookie mistake: look how big that pot of mashed potatoes is. Now - look to the left. Yup, that's a whole 'nother bowl of potatoes. Woops. She told me to peel them all!|
|Lisa and I watched a few YouTube videos on how to carve a turkey.|
It was all turning out to be a pretty fantastic Thanksgiving. Despite having a few people back out last minute, the house soon filled up with friends ready to eat. I waffled between enjoying myself and trying to remember to take pictures:
|Not a food channel presentation, but good enough to get your grub...|
|The potatoes and gravy were on the stove.|
|From left to right: Alejandra (Kenz's school friend), Celia and Owen (see: Cornwall!), Lisa, Dom (my disc golf bud). Two not pictured: Ty and Pique (arrived later).|
|My plate. Representing. The bits are hard boiled egg from the gravy. I like to keep my plate as colorless as possible on Thanksgiving. I didn't touch those cranberries. Sorry, Lisa.|
|Pie! And cream!|
|Kenz made all three of those. And they were delish.|
|Kenz maintained a calm cool the whole day.|
|Remains of the day|
|Enjoying pie. (Ty is on the left)|
|Pique gets some pie (center).|
|Owen was impressed. His expectations were low, though.|
|We woke up Kara|
|MOMA and Tom were in Florida with friends|
Much love to everyone - we're thankful for your continued interest in our lives and are grateful for your support!
And thanks, Lisa, for the special visit, goodies, cooking help, and laughter!
Hope you're recovering well from the carbohydrate hangovers.
OH! I almost forgot! Kenz had pumpkin pie for breakfast:
|"You always take pictures of me eating!"|
|B'fast of champions.|
PS: Shoutout to the Ruckers - looks like they had a nice turkey day, too:
|Nancy and Anna|
|Will and Tina|