Sunday 28 November 2010

thankful thanksgiving

My sister (in California) asked how I can manage to do a Thanksgiving feast in London. The hard part is not, as it was in Japan, sourcing the necessary ingredients: turkeys, cranberries, even stuffing, is all readily available. The trick is in planning ahead and delegating.

I sent out the invites several weeks ahead to gauge numbers. I let people know which parts I would cook (turkey, stuffing, mash) and which parts were potluck (veg, sides, desserts.)

Then S and I started shopping about a week in advance, bringing home drinks and dry food over several days - trying to balance both weight and fridge space.

Since we don't have the luxury of taking Thursday off work, I planned everything for late Saturday afternoon. The final shop was on Friday night after work. In the past, I have settled for frozen turkeys and spent all night defrosting it in a cooler filled with cold water (this requires waking up every two hours to change the water and rotate the turkey.) I was never happier to find a fresh turkey than on Friday night!

Cycling home with a turkey, flowers, vegetables, and other last minute items

The fridge was remarkably empty, considering the feast I planned to feed everyone. I began to have my doubts about having enough food. (Note that the fridge fits under the counter, so this photo is practically life-size.)


The only part I had not planned - since I never bother - was pumpkin pie. Ever since I was little, pumpkin pie has been the only dessert I can't eat. But then one of my friends was so excited about celebrating her first Thanksgiving that I felt I couldn't let her down. I had read on some of the local foodie forums that it is possible to buy Libby's Pumpkin Pie Filling online and at Waitrose supermarkets. The closest Waitrose is three stops away on the Tube - pretty far for one can of pie filling but worth it for a friend.


I started the morning by baking the pies in ramekins. I used crushed digestive biscuits and ginger snaps for the crust and followed the recipe on the can for the filling.

Next, I made stuffing (in a box - another concession to London Thanksgiving is allowing yourself to take shortcuts) and chopped veg while the stuffing was in the oven.


I prepped the turkey while the veg was roasting.


And then I had three whole hours to clean the bathroom, tidy the living room, and put out nibbles.


In the end, everyone brought so much food that we were overwhelmed!

Winter greens with shiitake mushrooms
Butternut squash
Mashed potatoes
Roasted vegetables
Cranberry sauce
White meat and dark meat

We used paper plates and plastic forks & knives so clean up was a breeze (although eating was a slight challenge.)

Dessert was impressive: cake from Patisserie Valerie (my favorite London bakery - we got cakes for our Thames cruise there)


And pumpkin pies!


As it turns out, I still hate pumpkin pie but everyone else liked it. Can't ask for a better result than that!

I was grateful to everyone for coming and contributing to a feast that still continues - we had enough leftovers for everyone to take some of everything!

1 comment:

krider2010 said...

I am honoured about the pumpkin pies. And immensely grateful because they completely lived up to American movie hype for me and I loved them. Now planning (with everything going on at the moment!) when I can manage to make some more. Perhaps I should inflict it on more UK people at Christmas...?!