Posted by Amanda
on Nov 26th, 2010 in Featured
| 4 comments
Yesterday was a “Happy Thanksgiving” for those Americans out there, whether living abroad or at home. We celebrated this year by having some friends over for a Thanksgiving chicken and all the fixings. Sadly, I forgot to take photos so you’ll just have to believe me when I say the chicken looked great (and tasted pretty good too).
One of the fun challenges of recreating Thanksgiving dinner in the Netherlands was making everything from scratch. A whole turkey can be tricky to find, they don’t do stuffing, and no one sells the jellied cranberry sauce that is the staple of American ready-made turkey dinners. Potatoes are easy to find though. Here’s a quick rundown of our alternatives:
- Chicken vs. Turkey. You can buy a turkey at some butcher shops in town, but you’ll have to make plans in advance. I was able to pick up a whole chicken that was just the right size the same day I cooked it. Turns out chicken is dead easy to cook. Recipe.
- Stuffing. I ended up making a vegetarian stuffing from scratch with apple chunks and pecans in it. The only problem was that my recipe called for condensed cream of mushroom soup and all I could find was the un-condensed sort and I think that resulted in a dryer stuffing. Recipe.
- Mashed Potatoes. My mother makes a delicious combination white & sweet potatoes mash which I wanted to duplicate for dinner. White potatoes are easy to find, but I ended up hunting down sweet potatoes at a small (I think) Turkish grocery shop in town based on recommendation from another expat. I hand mashed them because I don’t have a mixer. Recipe.
- Cranberry Sauce. I love the kind of canned cranberry sauce that’s all jelly and, when you take it out of the can, you can still see all the ridges. Crazy I know. Since that sort of sauce isn’t available here, I made some from scratch and mashed the berries up quite a bit to make it as smooth as possible. Cranberry sauce is seriously simple to make and it turned out very good. Recipe.
- Dessert. Our lovely guests provided dessert and included a wonderful pumpkin pie made from scratch. I haven’t had pumpkin pie in a while and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s more important to Thanksgiving than the turkey. I have no recipe for this, but it was the best “scratch” pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.
The other nice way we got to recreate Thanksgiving here was sampling some local delicacies. This isn’t really a tradition for us per sae, but back in Vermont we use to eat local birds and drink our own apple cider. So I guess it could become one. We included some regional cheeses (including limburger cheese), a Maastricht Riesling, rolls from the shop up the street, and a Limburg port. It was fun to try the new foods and there’s nothing like a dinner party to give you an excuse.
But really Thanksgiving is about spending time with the people you care about, and that’s what made this year a little more special than last. It was a lot of fun to cook good food, share the meal and get a little taste of the holiday.
Cranberry image is by Muffet. Used under a Creative Commons-By Attribution License.