Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving From Scratch

Not only was this our first Thanksgiving in Africa, but it was also our first Thanksgiving making the entire meal ourselves! We decided to take on the challenge of making a full-fledged Thanksgiving feast all on our own, and were pretty proud of the results. I can honestly say that spending an entire day in the kitchen was something I had never done before, but with plenty of wine and the good company of my husband it was really a lot of fun. The only problem was that there was way too much food for just the two of us... I write this blog entry just after finishing my third Thanksgiving-esque meal in three days, and there are still several giant Ziploc bags of leftovers from our 11 pound turkey waiting in the refrigerator!

The interesting part about making Thanksgiving dinner in Botswana was that we had to improvise on certain ingredients that can't be found in stores here - dishes like green bean casserole and pecan pie aren't exactly staples in the local diet. Here are some items found in any Publix that we made from scratch, and had fun doing it:

Rolling out the pie crust.
Pie crust: No frozen pie crusts at our grocery store, Pick N' Pay. Miraculously, Scott made the crust of our pecan pie entirely from scratch, and given that it was his first time ever doing so, the pie turned out great.

 Gravy: My mom wouldn't be caught dead using ready- made gravy for Thanksgiving, but I am not an experienced cook and so probably would have if it were available here just to save some time and trouble... key words being "if it were available!" Scott gets all the credit for this one - he whipped up a delicious homemade gravy using the simple ingredients of turkey giblets and drippings, carrots, celery, butter and water.
Gravy boiling on the stove top.

 French's French Fried Onions: We assumed from the start that this particular item wouldn't be available in Botswana, but as a key item in a key Thanksgiving dish - green bean casserole - there was no way we'd let that get in our way! My first time deep frying anything, I sliced up all the onions and fried them in oil to use as the delicious topping for our green bean casserole. Yum! I've already bought some chicken breasts and some more oil at the store so I can try my hand at frying up something else this time, as it was quite fun to do.
Coating the onions for frying.
Stove Top Stuffing Mix: Again, something my family does not typically use on Thanksgiving - but definitely something I'd have been more than glad to throw in the mix to make things easier had it been available here. Not to fear, though, because Scott had it all under control! He found a recipe for stuffing and made his own with just some bread and seasonings... it turned out great too!

Bread + seasoning = stuffing.

And... the result of five hours in the kitchen? A full Thanksgiving spread of turkey, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed butternut squash (easiest thing to make by far), and pecan pie! And, of course, more wine as a reward for all that hard work.

Happy Thanksgiving from Botswana!
Time to eat!

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