Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The American Holiday I'd Like to Import

Ah... Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow (Thurs) is Thanksgiving Day - aka "Turkey Day" in America.  I adore Thanksgiving - always have.

The aroma of a fully-stuffed turkey roasting in the oven. The stuffing (the EXTRA stuffing 'casserole' I always made because the little bit inside the bird is never enough), the homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and so on.

OooooOOOoooooo.  It's heaven - and it's all wrapped up in the true story of how starving English settlers were assisted by Native Americans, and how they came together to have a feast to share the best of each others' traditions and available foods.

Unfortunately, the traditional Turkey Day fare is somewhat heavy and suited to cold climates. Here in Australia the end of November it's warm, as the US might see in late May - and it's a little harder now to work up much enthusiasm for a big hot meal. It's also expensive, esp. as turkey (which is just sooooo cheap in the US) is harder to get here and costs a LOT more. Back in 2006, when I'd first arrived here, I ordered a whole turkey from a butcher shop in North Carlton - not far from my mother-in-law's home. Her birthday was November 22 - the day before Thanksgiving day that year, so it made sense.  Well, it made sense to me and Judith certainly didn't mind. I must say up-front that turkey was the BEST turkey I ever roasted; it was perfect in every way. But it was also a 12 pound bird which cost just over $60! OUCH! Since then I've been able to find whole turkey at much lower prices - although never as low as the prices I was used to in Ohio.

Anyway - being a huge fan of this holiday, I have imported it to Australia, in my own way. I now annually have a "Thanksgiving Day Feast" - but I have it in June or July (usually July). I really enjoy doing the whole feast and sharing with our dinner guests the fact that the original Thanksgiving feast was truly a multicultural event - something Australians appreciate, as our society also benefits from the blending of many peoples, just as the US has.

I get a fresh (not frozen) turkey from my local butcher, make twice-baked potatoes and homemade bread as I've always done.

Cranberry sauce is a bit difficult, as I have never seen fresh cranberries here. I can get frozen ones if I order them in advance - and craisins (dried cranberries) are readily available at the grocery year round now. I found a recipe for cranberry sauce using craisins - and, with a little tweaking, it's a pretty good facsimile.

Pumpkin pie - well, there's a challenge.  Jack-o-lantern-style pumpkins can be found here - for about $3 a kilo, which is, well... ...and you thought $60 for a 12-pound bird was a lot... ...might actually be cheaper to stick a candle inside a whole turkey....? I've adapted, however, and come up with my own recipe using butternut squash. I've been told by people who presume to know that "pumpkin pie" made this way isn't as good. Well, folks, with all modesty I will say that my own adapted recipe makes the BEST darned pumpkin pie I've ever had (I use coconut milk instead of the canned milk from the famous recipe on the side of the "Libby's" brand canned pumpkin - oh it's divine!).

But tomorrow?  No... no turkey for me.  Or wait... Safeway often has turkey drums at a reasonable price and I've learned that putting them into a roasting bag with half a bottle of cheap BBQ sauce, and cooking for 90 minutes at about 200C... yeah... maybe we'll have turkey after all. Just not the whole shebang. That'll I'll save for next July. And maybe when my antipodean Thanksgiving rolls around, I'll share some photos and recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and readers - may peace reign as you celebrate what, I believe, is the worlds oldest holiday which celebrates multicultural communities.

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