Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in Germany

Hi folks,

I hope our US based friends and family had a great thanksgiving, full of food and friends and blessing counting.  Sasha and I enjoyed the holiday, celebrating it together for the first time (last year, Sasha was in Argentina, and before that, we celebrated with our respective families, etc.).  Since I had lab meeting on Thursday and we had other Thursday commitments, we decided to celebrate on Friday instead.

One thing that I had heard from other US ex-pats was how hard it is to find a turkey in Europe.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised that such is not the case in Marburg.  While I wouldn't entirely have minded having an awesome "Mission: locate turkey" story like my friend Amber ( I'm OK with it being easy.  I had seen small turkeys in the "frozen meat" section in our local grocery store, but since they seemed small and I wasn't sure we'd have the fridge space for defrosting, I decided to go to the local market instead.  The market here is AWESOME!!  I went last Saturday on a recon mission, and bought the pumpkin and various root vegetables that I would need to round out our feast (and a few pastries, and a bottle of young fermenting cider, a sausage, some yummy cheese...which did NOT last until Thanksgiving), and found a friendly butcher's stand and ordered a turkey, to be picked up on Wednesday.
Shopping at the market! Sorry it's blurry. There was food. I was excited.

SO, on Wednesday I biked down and picked up a gorgeous looking bird.  And I think it might even have been organic, free range, fed by hand with only the choicest of seeds and bugs...OK, maybe just organic, but let's just say that while fresh turkeys were not hard to locate in Marburg, you pay dearly for the luxury.  Totally worth it, though. AND, I found a cool fall-colored centerpiece.  Normally, I'm like my mom and when it comes to decorative stuff, my favorite response is: "who do you think I am, Martha Stewart?" BUT when I saw this, I decided it would be perfect:
Take that Martha S. Who's classy now?

Sasha picked up most of the other things we needed at the grocery store on Thursday and in the evening, we went over to a German friend's house to have turkey with her family, so in a way, we even got 2 thanksgivings this year.

Then on Friday, I got up early and (for the first time without my mom or housemate Sian) started preparing for the holiday.  First up: apple pie.  Then, over the course of the day I made beet clementine salad, sauteed parsnips, sauteed sliced brussel sprouts with pecans and shallots, mixed roasted root vegetables including sweet potato, pumpkin (OK, not technically a root vegetable), onion, turnip and carrot, cranberry apple sauce, and a pumpkin cheese cake following a new recipe from my Saveur magazine ( Including the rolls that Sasha made, our little toaster oven was working for most of the day.
The cheese cake was a bit tricky, since the crust was supposed to be made from smooshed ginger snaps, and, well, we couldn't find any.  Nonetheless, the German holiday spice cookies called Spekulatus were a tasty substitution, and making my own pumkin puree worked fine in the absence of canned pumpkin.  I did wish for a food processor at some points, though. 
Anna the human food processor, preparing cheesecake crust.  Yes, that is a water glass in my hand.
  SO, maybe you are noticing that I haven't mentioned the turkey yet.  Needless to say, our toaster oven could not handle a big bird, so figuring out how to roast the turkey was more problematic than locating it in the first place.  BUT after looking into many options, our friend Kristin saved the day and let us roast the turkey in her oven AND did the basting over the course of the afternoon.  It was perhaps amusing to have to keep dashing between buildings to check on the turkey, but in the end, the bird was quite yummy.  Kristin also brought mashed potatoes and stuffing (I guess it's dressing for you grammar mavens, since we baked it outside the bird, or maybe dressing is just a Southern term, I'm not sure). Add friends to the evening, and the feast became Thanksgiving.  
What a gorgeous bird, right?

With thanks, thanksgiving.

Aside from an incident with the stuffing and the floor, the evening went incredibly well given all the hurdles, and gave me ample time to count my blessings.  I am thankful  for food, the opportunity to spend a few years in Europe, friends to make the experience more pleasant, family supporting us from the states, and (of course), my faithful partner in this crazy adventure, Sasha, the bestest husband I could have.

Sasha hiding the party's evidence in good German fashion.

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