Thanksgiving 2014

Whoa, we are going way back in time here! Thanksgiving feels like it was years ago. I guess, in one way of speaking, it was a year ago.

Maybe since I’m writing about an event so far in the past, I won’t ramble like I often do. But I had trouble narrowing down the pics, so who am I kidding; it will still be a long post. Maybe I’ll eventually learn how to use one of those “After The Jump” links that fancy bloggers do. Okay, I actually see the very clearly labeled button that I could press to insert it, but I’m not going to. REVEL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS.

Jeff and I decided to co-host a Thanksgiving dinner with our across-the-hall neighbor Lisé and her husband Ian. They have a larger apartment, so it made more sense to have the dinner there, and we hosted appetizers and drinks in our apartment. I also arranged a few craft projects for the kids to work on until dinner was ready:


Adele, Élan, and May color their personalized place mats. I had much loftier ideas for these place mats, but as time ran out before the party, I just hastily scrawled each kid’s name in big block letters.


I made all the turkey heads out of construction paper and googly eyes and pre-cut feather shapes, but each kid decorated their chosen feathers with glitter glue and sparkly gems and added in some real feathers. Glam turkeys!

Here is Libby rocking her turkey hat:


It became a very kid-centric Thanksgiving. Everyone that we invited had kids, all aged four and under. In total, there were thirteen adults and nine kids, with a few more popping in at the end of the evening. It was insanity, but it was perfect. There was a constant din of whining and crying and happy screaming and laughter throughout the night, but it was basically just white noise to us seasoned parents.

Élan tickles May

Élan tickles May

Jojo helps herself to some cranberry salsa, even though it was the spiciest batch we've made!

Jojo helps herself to some cranberry salsa, even though it was the spiciest batch we’ve made!

Here are some of the appetizers Jeff and I made:


If I recall precisely, there were pumpkin soup shots, the aforementioned cranberry salsa, chicken liver mousse, savory apple and caramelized onion muffins, veggies, hummus, and olives, and a dried fruit medley. Lisé brought over a pot of gløgg, which was divine and intensely boozy, and I somehow do not have a picture of it! Unacceptable!

I do, however, have a picture of the gorgeous Michelle taking a picture of gorgeous moi:


After we were already stuffed so full of appetizers that we could have gone home happily un-hungry, it was time to carve the turkey.

Since there were so many people joining us, we made it a potluck dinner. However, since Lisé and Ian were having the dinner in their apartment, they thought it best to provide the turkey…even though Lisé is a vegetarian and hates the smell of meat cooking! To make life much easier, they ordered the bird precooked from a restaurant here called Jones the Grocer. Actually, they ordered two, plus gravy. Presto Jenny-O!



Ian did have to carve it though, which was nice, because it meant that he got to break the wishbone with Élan:


We had a whole mess of food. The spread was outstanding:




I mean, just look at my beautiful plate!


To fit everyone, we brought our dining room table over and stole some extra chairs from the lounge. Hope no one was planning on having their own Thanksgiving dinner party there!




I volunteered to make the cranberry sauce, since I needed to buy cranberries for the salsa appetizer. But the first two stores I went to had no cranberries, fresh or frozen! I didn’t just assume they would be available – I know they’re a North American crop – but I had heard from friends that they were on the shelves here and I even followed a comment thread on a local expat forum about where cranberries had been spotted. When I asked a produce stockboy at one of the hypermarkets that had been listed as having them, he had absolutely no idea what word I was even saying. So I went and found a bag of dried cranberries and showed him and tried saying the name in Arabic. No dice. Or cranberries. Discouraged, I grabbed a bag of frozen sour cherries and some fresh red currants instead. But then, yay! On a trip to the Organic Market with Lisé, I found frozen cranberries and promptly swept the entire shelf of them into my basket. I had a change of heart and put half back, so as not to any foil any other desperate American in their quest for cranberries, but I still bought six or more bags. And they were not cheap! But man, did I want some cranberries! (We then used the currants to garnish the pâté and the cherries languished in the freezer until I pulled them out last night to make a balsamic cherry reduction for a pork loin that was lick the plate and frying pan good.)

I now segue seamlessly from my cranberry spiel to photos of cute children:

Our Shabbat candlesticks felt appropriately autumnal

Our Shabbat candlesticks felt appropriately autumnal

The head of the table

The head of the table

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Avalon and her parents were the only non-NYU attendees. They are Cranleigh friends.

Avalon and her parents were the only non-NYU attendees. They are Cranleigh friends.

Sofia's first Thanksgiving...and perhaps also Marcos and Michelle's? I forget.

Sofia’s first Thanksgiving…and perhaps also Marcos and Michelle’s? I forget.

Also Mina's first Thanksgiving, as well as her mother Fiona's. Fiona is Australian, her husband is Indian, but Mina is an American citizen so she needed to learn how to properly celebrate Thanksgiving!

Also little Mina’s first Thanksgiving, as well as her mother Fiona’s. Fiona is Australian, her husband is Indian, but Mina is an American citizen so she needed to learn how to properly celebrate Thanksgiving!

Dinner theater

Dinner theater

Dinner was delish, as it always is, but dessert really stole the show. The pumpkin cheesecake that Michelle and Marcos made was out of this world:


And Lisé made cognac ice cream! Swoon!

How cuuuute does Lisé look here?!

How cuuuute does Lisé look here?!

One of the nicest parts of the night was that we could relax, have adult conversations, and let the kids play with each other throughout the meal and afterward. I love how children do so well at keeping each other amused. (I had a ton of pics of them playing all together, but they were too dark and/or blurry.)


Adele didn’t even sit at the same table as we!

After dinner, Élan graciously shared his wealth of toys with all the kids and we kept talking and drinking.

Adults (Jeff talking football with a Broncos fan):


Children (quietly in the back bedroom on their own):


I took home a huge chunk of cheesecake as leftovers and ate it all too soon. We also had a giant Tupperware container of stuffing that we got creative with to use up: Jeff turned it into a frittata! We sadly didn’t get much turkey to take home, but it wasn’t that disappointing, because the only way I want to eat my leftover Thanksgiving turkey is as a sourdough sandwich, and you cannot get good sourdough bread here (or any really good bread in my experience so far). We did get the turkey carcass though and filled the freezer with stock, which I am still using. There is also a random glass of leftover gløgg in my refrigerator, which is probably just vinegar by now.


One thought on “Thanksgiving 2014

  1. This looks absolutely gorgeous and fun! What a nice way to keep tradition alive and flourishing thousands of miles away. Also, staying true to what Thanksgiving is and that is a way to share and give thanks to others.

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