Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Top ten

The top 10 things I learned by hosting an American Thanksgiving in Australia

10. German engineering isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Our apartment has these high-end German appliances. The oven is slightly larger than a shoebox. No self respecting turkey could possibly fit in there. That's why we had to take it outside and throw the turkeys on the barbie. That evil oven persisted to heat unevenly and burn a beautiful pan of Pioneer Woman dinner rolls. Even the fancy microwave-that-also-doubles-as-a-second-oven cooked at warp speed but luckily no damage was done. In the battle of me vs the German appliances I think I came out on top. But oh how I miss you, Viking range.

9. Don't be afraid to substitute.
So what if they don't sell evaporated milk, Crisco or pumpkin puree at Woolies? A dedicated American baker like my awesome friend Cristina won't let that stop her from making the most delicious pumpkin pie you've ever tasted. Really, it's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.

8. eBay + IKEA + my friend's cupboards + the internet = a lovely Thanksgiving table.
It's true that as of last month I had exactly 8 dinner plates, 5 glasses and not a single tablecloth. But somehow I managed to host a sit down dinner for 20 people yesterday. And it was quite lovely, if I do say so myself. I made the table runners with this gorgeous Amy Butler fabric and found these cute printable decorations at Paper and Cake.

7. Native Australian flowers are beautiful.

6. Having a back-up meat thermometer (or helpful neighbors) is a good idea.
Grilling turkey is a nerve-wracking experience. Keeping the temperature steady and dealing with the wind was challenging. Right at the critical moment our electronic meat thermometer malfunctioned. We were all so thankful when our neighbors showed up with not 1 but 2 meat thermometers! And the turkeys were cooked to perfection.

5. They don't eat turkey in the Czech Republic.
I employed a lovely young woman to help with the prep and clean up during our celebration. She's from the Czech Republic and here on a work-holiday visa. She had never tasted turkey before! Her verdict? "Like chicken but drier." I think she liked the pumpkin pie better.

4. Celebrating Thanksgiving in Spring is strange, but has its advantages.
After standing over a hot barbie with a cold beer all afternoon and stuffing ourselves with rich Thanksgiving foods, we headed down to the beach. The dads tossed the football around, the moms had a chat, and the kids splashed in the waves.

3. Be prepared to spend a small fortune if you want a fresh turkey.
Aussies love ham. Ham on the bone, champagne ham, honey roasted, you name it. They do not seem to have the same fondness for turkey. Most delis don't even have sliced turkey. You won't find a fresh whole turkey at the supermarket. I ordered 2 turkeys from our local butcher- at $17.95 a kilo. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Costco will open in Sydney and I'll be able to get a turkey there next year for one tenth the price!

2. Include a little taste of home.
We put this candy corn my mom sent to good use. You can never have too many desserts!

1. Having wonderful friends makes it a little easier to be so far away from family.
I have so much to be thankful for!


Kristi said...

Happy Thanksgiving!
Funny post. You can find pumpkin everything here like soup, pizza, casserole, quiche. With all the meat pies, not a pumpkin pie to be found. It is the strangest thing. I am so with you on the whole oven thing too!

Kathy said...

I am not one bit surprised that you managed to pull off an awesome Thanksgiving dinner in a country where it is not even celebrated. I would expect nothing less from you... once again in awe of your talents.

Nana said...

What a beautiful looking dinner party. I love the post too..You have such a talent for writing along with your creative decorating and cooking abilities. See you back home soon..XXOO

suzinoz said...

OMG, I can't believe you were charged 17.99/kg for the turkey. I paid 10.99/kg and thought I got robbed. OUCH!!! It was a lovely turkey though and we do enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving once a year. I didn't even think to check Costco. I'll have a look there before Christmas. Congrats on making it all work! We had a few Pioneer Woman recipes at our gathering too. =)

Elsja said...

Aww it looks like you had a wonderful celebration. Last year I made pumpkin pies from scratch by steaming and mashing my own pumpkin. It was actually a bit more fulfilling than using the stuff in a can. :)

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Anonymous said...

Hi, little late in the day, but those "native" flowers aren't in fact native at all. They're South African proteas, but they do look a little like some native Australian flowers - like Waratahs and Banksias, which are in the same family. Many Australians also think they're native, if it's any compensation.

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