Tuesday, December 4, 2012

a real thanksgiving!

this wasn't the first thanksgiving i've spent in korea. during my first week here, aka the training week from hell, i grabbed thanksgiving dinner with a couple of my training classmates. since we'd been in the country for about five days and didn't know where anything was, we had something very spicy and very korean that was full of sea creatures. it was delicious, and it was a nice first thanksgiving in korea, but we definitely missed the traditional thanksgiving spread from home.

this year, my head instructor, will, and his wife, joanna, welcomed us into their gorgeous home to take over their (huge, western-style, oven-equipped!) kitchen and put together a full thanksgiving meal for everyone. of course we all jumped at this chance. they've had us all over for dinner before, once on cinco de mayo, aka when we realized joanna is an amazing cook, and again a couple months ago, for a potluck extravaganza.

joanna and analeece pieced together a menu -- everyone had an idea of what to bring, all thinking of things they love from home. they even tracked down a turkey at costco! i volunteered to bring cranberry salad, since i know for a fact that the family recipe i have is way better than that canned cranberry stuff, and a pecan pie. also, since it's a staple for my family back home, i decided to bring green stuff, which everyone found absolutely bewildering when i described it, but they promised to taste it regardless. (green stuff, as my family calls it, is basically a version of this, which a simple google search proves is not that unusual, thankyouverymuch, skeptics.)

why is the celery so big. who needs all those leaves, korea? 

things i am thankful for: electric mixers. whipping cream by hand is no fun.

red stuff and green stuff! all ready to go the night before! 

we all had to work on actual thanksgiving, so we scheduled our celebration for the following saturday. since i was on the pie baking committee, and we wanted to try to have those done before the turkey went in, i was up bright and early. sarah, analeece, and i headed over to will and joanna's around 9:45am so we could get as much done as possible before people started coming over around 3 or 4. 

will and joanna brined the turkey overnight, and the only container that was big enough? a trashcan. 

yes, please. 

pumpkin pie ready for the oven!

so, as we were getting pie stuff ready, we were facing an unexpected problem: we only had one pie pan, which was already occupied by the above pumpkin pie. joanna bought the pie pan here in korea, so surely we could find a couple more, right? no. nowhere. at all. will was sent out on the mission to find more pie pans. i'm pretty sure he checked three places, in addition to the two stores they'd checked earlier in the week. we even had eleanor check the grocery store near our apartments. not a single pie pan to be found. 

we decided to pause the pie-making for a bit while we looked up options and waited on the pumpkin pie that was occupying the single pie pan to be done. however, problem number two soon hit us: the pie wasn't cooking right. really, it wasn't cooking much at all. so we gave it more time... and more time... yet the filling was still jiggly. we checked the recipe again. everything had been done correctly. finally, it had firmed up a little, but it was officially time for the turkey to go in, so it had to come out. 

now the other pies had no choice but to be baked after the turkey. this was no problem, really, as it only took us a few seconds to rearrange the cooking schedule. this also gave us time to solve the pie pan problem: skillets! the internet told us it was possible. so we decided to give it a go. we also had no other options. 

while the turkey cooked, we started getting everything else ready and people started arriving to help with the other dishes. 

sarah working on stuffing, which was delicious. 

getting an apple pie ready to go into the oven as soon as the turkey was done. 

so many cooks in the kitchen.

ricer! gettin' mashed potatoes ready. 

will was busy documenting.

the thanksgiving feast! turkey, two kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes plus gravy, green bean casserole, home-baked rolls, cranberry salad, green stuff, olives... all of it. 

after-dinner digestion time. 

while everyone relaxed and digested their dinner, it was time to get back to work on pies. my pecan was all ready to be mixed and poured into a shell, and the apple was nearly done baking.

the skillets = success! not a bad back-up plan at all. the pies came out perfect. 

my pecan pie tasted just like my mom's. it changed lives that night, guys. it was gooood. 

pecan, pumpkin (which was still a little funky, but had firmed up when it cooled), apple, AND a cheesecake. AND there was another pumpkin in the oven -- which came out perfectly this time. 

just as thanksgiving should be: with people curled up on couches, unable to move. 

ready to abandon all attempts to stay conscious. 

tried a panoramic of the group playing cranium. not sure what happened to joanna's body or will's arm. 

to quote eleanor's facebook status from the day after, "there is no such thing as a friendly game of cranium when everyone is drunk and everyone is a teacher." turns out we are a pretty competitive group. (also, another glitchy panoramic, this time hitting brianna's face. -_- )

so, thanksgiving in korea was a great success! it was fun hanging out and cooking all day, and then it was even more fun eating good food with a group of great friends. oh, and:

my tiny little fridge, filled up with leftovers. i ate turkey sandwiches with stuffing, red stuff, green stuff, and pie for like five days after our thanksgiving party. i think leftovers are my favorite part of thanksgiving, so i was pretty damn pleased.

now to plan christmas festivities... 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent. This reminds me of my Germany Thanksgiving. I was committed to pumpkin pies, but couldn't find pie pumpkins or canned pumpkin, so we resorted to pumpkin puree baby food. The consistency was off, but it was terrible!