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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Even though I live in Estonia and Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here, I’m still an American at heart and didn’t want to let the holiday go by without some kind of recognition. So, in addition to calling my family and getting to chat with everyone while they prepared for their holiday feast on Thursday, I also bought a piece of turkey with the intention of making J and I a nice meal on Saturday night.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it exactly, so J suggested I consult my gorgeous Jamie Oliver cookbook, which has been sadly neglected as of late. So I did, and of course it gave me some fantastic inspiration: I decided to brine the turkey. Apparently soaking turkey (or chicken) in a salt solution for a few hours (or overnight) before cooking yields tender, moist meat. I’d never tried it so I was willing to give it a shot. Then, since I was already using the brine portion of the recipe, I decided to just go ahead and try the whole recipe.

It was quite simple– sliced potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, carrots and onions got a head start cooking in a casserole dish with some chicken stock, and later the turkey (or chicken) pieces were added, along with some cream and a few pieces of butter. Not a traditional Thanksgiving meal, though a lot of the components are the same– turkey, potatoes, and oven-roasted vegetables.

Isn’t that lovely? Most of the vegetables were cooked nice and soft and had wonderful flavor (although the cream in the sauce curdled, so it wasn’t very pretty). The turkey pieces were quite juicy on the inside, but I don’t know if they were moister than turkey usually is. Since I don’t make turkey breast often it’s hard to say how much the brine affected the meat (it was in the brine for 4-5 hours). It certainly didn’t do any harm, though.

So that was how J and I celebrated with our own little non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. As always, I was happy to try a new recipe, happy to have so much delicious food, and happy to have J here to enjoy it with me. Thanksgiving or not, it never hurts to be grateful for all the good things in life.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I’d  just like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to all the readers in America! I hope you arrive at your destination safely and have a wonderful time with family and friends (and a fun four-day weekend!!). In Estonia, today is just Thursday. The only special event J and I could be celebrating is Marika’s First Root Canal, which took place this afternoon (and it honestly wasn’t bad at all… why do people talk about root canals like they’re really scary?).

Anyway… have a lovely holiday!

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Vegetarian Thanksgiving in London

I arrived in London on Wednesday evening– the day before Thanksgiving– and as I mentioned, we immediately went out to dinner (Siret, her mother and I). Throughout dinner the topic of Thanksgiving came up numerous times– should we make dinner, should we go out to eat– and numerous times we got off-topic and failed to make a decision. Eventually, though, we focused and came to the conclusion that we would like to make Thanksgiving dinner. At that same moment we realized that Waitrose closed in 20 minutes, so we finished up and made a dash for the shop. Considering we planned the whole meal on the spot, I think we did a pretty good job. We grabbed Brussels sprouts, tiny potatoes, salad mix, cranberry port sauce, cupcake ingredients. As Siret and her mother are vegetarians and I certainly didn’t want to prepare meat only on my account, we decided on a balsamic onion and cheddar tart (pre-made) as a main dish.

The next day we got started in the afternoon baking our dessert, which was vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cinnamon icing (Siret’s a big fan of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” and has made many a gorgeous cupcake from the recipes therein). The can of pumpkin puree alone smelled divine. I miss pumpkin– I wanted to roast some and make my own puree in the fall, but never got around to it. Anyway, after we combined the pumpkin with flour, sugar, oil, soy milk and a few other things and tossed them in the oven, it smelled even better.

After the baking, the rest of our dinner came together in about an hour and a half. Not having a giant turkey to roast seriously cuts down on kitchen time. 🙂 The Brussels sprouts were coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a hot oven, the itty-bitty potatoes were boiled and then tossed with salt and dill (and served with a choice of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt), a salad was made and finished off with dressing and goat cheese, and the tart was baked in accordance with package directions (actually, that’s a lie– the package said to remove it from the foil plate and I didn’t. Whatever).

Thanksgiving table is set.

Once seated at the table, we raised our glasses in thanks to our wonderful dinner and to being together in London. Overall our Thanksgiving dinner was quite virtuous– the most calorie-laden component was the tart, of which we each ate less than a serving– but it was still so wonderful and satisfying. There’s just something about a plate piled high with a variety of foods and a glass of wine alongside that feels festive and exciting– no slices of meat or ultra-fattening sides necessary :-).


We also had two wacky flavors of potato chips to try– Honey Roast Ham & Cranberry and Turkey & Chestnut Stuffing. Interestingly enough, the ham chips were vegetarian but the turkey chips were not (they included turkey extract, whatever that is). The chips didn’t taste too much like their names. I think the ham ones were quite sweet.

And then there was dessert. Siret piped a cinnamon icing turkey onto this cupcake especially for me :-). And the taste– oh my. It was the moistest cupcake I’ve ever had, and the little chocolate chunks were nice and melty, adding richness and contrast. Even as somebody who has no problem eating eggs and dairy, I think I may be a vegan cupcake convert. I mean, if they’re clearly better, then why not?

So that was my Thanksgiving this year. Once again, even though I wasn’t in the States, I still had an excellent meal with people who are like family to me.

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I was very jealous of my fellow Americans on Thanksgiving Day this year. I just really felt like I could use a day off of work, but of course here in Estonia, it was just another Thursday. I didn’t celebrate on the actual day. I called my family just as they were sitting down to their holiday dinner, and I baked an apple-lingonberry pie with crumble topping for my co-workers. I don’t have a picture of it because I baked it late at night, and by the time the apples were soft enough for me to finally pull it out of the oven, all I wanted to do was go to bed. My co-workers liked it  (full disclosure– the pie crust was store-bought dough), and they also loved the variation on David Lebovitz’s spicy glazed nut mix I made (I didn’t use the cayenne pepper since many Estonians don’t like things spicy).

J and I had our real Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, the day that we had time to dedicate to shopping and cooking. I roasted 500 g of turkey pieces (a little over a pound) with onions, carrots, and some seasonings, and then J made gravy from the drippings (we used my oven-proof skillet for this– I’m so happy I brought that thing with me from the States this summer!). J made mashed potatoes, and I roasted Brussels sprouts according to this recipe. That was all accompanied by some store-bought potato salad, quick lingonberry sauce (you know, instead of cranberry), and some garlic bread (the kind that comes frozen and you pop it into the oven for a little while).

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I was really proud of us. Sure, it was a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner for two, but we pulled it off really well. Everything was done at the right time, even though I was improvising some of the recipes, and it was delicious. I loved the roasted Brussels sprouts, simultaneously sweet and salty and a bit bitter, though I might add some butter next time to make them even sweeter.

img_4889J enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner, his first ever. We were both thankful for the delicious food we’re able to create in our own kitchen. I’m thankful that he likes learning about the traditions of my culture as much as I like learning about the traditions of his. Most of all, I’m thankful for my family in America– who were certainly thinking of me as they sat down to turkey, potatoes, and my sister’s tiramisu– as well as for the family that I had sitting right beside me.

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