For the Love of Thanksgiving
Here in Madagascar at this time of year, the air isn’t getting crisp, the leaves aren’t falling from the trees, nor are we sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace but never the less, the holidays are upon us. There are only a handful of Americans living in or around our town… 14 adults that we know of. Just 14 Americans celebrating a holiday that most here in Madagascar have never heard of before.
A few weeks back, I got a crazy bee up my bonnet and decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner at our place for our American friends plus our two honorary American friends, Trond and Inga, from Norway. Now, I’ve never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner before. I’ve attended lots of Thanksgiving dinners in my life… I’ve enjoyed all the good eats and have even brought a few good dishes to share. But I’ve never cooked the turkey, made the stuffing, the gravy, or the pumpkin pies. And I’ve never watched the turkey walk around our yard alive the day before Thanksgiving!
What I have seen over the years, thanks to watching my mom and grandma, is that Thanksgiving dinners take a lot of work, a lot of preparation, shopping, chopping, delegating, baking and hosting. I’ve also seen that it all starts a few days in advance. For the first time, I’ve experienced this first hand. Here’s my Thanksgiving run-down.
Tuesday: went shopping at 12pm, in the heat of the day, to the open market, the temperature outside…a blistering 98 degrees. Once home, I bleached the fruit and vegetables to ensure none of our guests got e-coli, typhoid fever, intestinal parasites, etc. Then I pulled a chicken carcass out of the freezer that I had reserved for making chicken stock in the future. Made homemade chicken stock to be used on Thursday for the gravy. Cut open the squash (no pumpkins here) and cooked it in preparation to use for the pumpkin pies. Made the pie crust for the pumpkin pies… in our guest room. What? Yes, our kitchen is just too hot, so hot in fact, the butter melts when out on the counter. I took all my ingredients into the pre-chilled air conditioned guest room and quickly put together the buttery pie crust.
Wednesday: I had every intention to make the pumpkin pies, but in the end, we had 5 different appointments with people and as a result, the pies had to wait.
Thursday: The first order of business, kill the turkeys. Aaghh, yes… not such a pleasant part of Thanksgiving dinner. I left this to the guys and I’ll spare you the not-so-appetizing details of how a turkey is butchered, cleaned and prepared. Leaving this to the guys, I grated and pounded the necessary spices for the pumpkin pies… dried ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Made the pumpkin pie filling (no store bought cans used here). Went back into my pre-chilled air conditioned guest room to roll out the pie crust. Baked the pumpkin pies but halfway through, realized the gas bomb had run out for our oven in the middle of baking. Fortunately, I was prepared for this likely event and had another gas bomb waiting in the ranks. During this time, there was lots of peeling, chopping, slicing, and dicing… in preparation for the stuffing, the gravy, the salad dressing and the yummy aromatics to stuff inside the turkey.
In the end, 12 adults and 7 kids under the age of 5 enjoyed a festive Thanksgiving dinner on our back patio. Thanks to everyone who brought tons of amazing food, we had two turkeys, two sets of gravy and stuffing, green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green salad, deviled eggs, fresh baked rolls, cheese, crackers, and mango salsa. For dessert… oohhh dessert… we had key lime pie, pumpkin pie, pineapple cake, chocolate mousse and whip cream! My heart was full with nostalgia as I looked down at my overflowing plate with all these familiar good eats…. within 15 minutes, my stomach was overflowing with fullness too!
All for the love of Thanksgiving… and pumpkin pie!
preparing the pumpkin pie crust in the air-conditioned guest bedroom
pumpkin pie success
our turkey before…. and after
no 22-pound turkeys here in Madagascar….this one we estimated was just about 8 pounds
the boys carving the birds…
lots of laughter amongst 12 adults and 7 kids
Jamie seemed to enjoy the food!
and of course…. who doesn’t love dessert?!