I'd like to start off by saying that Thursdays are not my day. On Thursdays I go to school for a double period of physics, one hour of geography, a double period of chemistry, German class, and one hour of biology. Conveniently, Thursday was also the day I had to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily, the more focused I become on cooking, the more I was able to relax and put the long day behind me. I also had the help of my host family, which really cut down the time it took. The first thing we did was peel the potatoes and apples. My plan was to get all the easy things done first: snicker salad, mashed potatoes, and gravy. This turned out to be not such a great plan because I ended up starting to make the pumpkin pie last, which took the longest time to make.
Half of the ingredients of the snicker salad.
I had almost forgotten how much of a nightmare converting measurements was until Thanksgiving. The measurement system wasn't the only hindrance that I encountered. For instance, German grocery stores do not sell Cool Whip. I got lucky with this one though. All we had to do was buy regular cream and whip it for a few minutes. When I asked my host mom where the canned pumpkin was, she said we'd have to buy a whole pumpkin instead and make our own. This didn't affect the pie. Something that did, was that Germans don't really make pies. Therefore, my host family did not have a aluminum pie tin with a nine inch diameter. We were able to find a round, oven safe pan instead. This pan was bigger than needed, so my measurements were off. We hadn't made enough pie dough to fill the entire container, so the crust was uneven. I also had too much pumpkin filling because the pan was more shallow than normal. This resulted in a very thin pie. Other minor substitutions were chicken broth cubes that we dissolved in water to make chicken stock for the gravy, and instead of using cream of mushroom soup for the green bean casserole (because we didn't find it at the store), we used regular onion soup.
One would think that crescent rolls are the easiest part of Thanksgiving. All you have to do is roll them up and stick them in the oven, right? Wrong. In the midst of trying to multitask with all my other food projects, I left them in the oven for just a minute or two too long.
The crescent rolls before they burned!
When I initially started mixing all the ingredients for mashed potatoes together, I noticed that it looked more like soup than mashed potatoes. I worried that I'd converted wrong and added too much butter or milk. After a while, they set a bit and looked more like potatoes.
I've never prepared a turkey or even watched someone prepare one. Sides I can handle, turkey I can't. I let my host mother make it the night before because I wouldn't have even known where to start. My host family had told me that turkeys aren't very common in Germany, so we would buy Puten. Puten translates to turkey in English, so I'm still a little confused about what kind of meat this was exactly.
Our German "turkey".
I'm pretty sure that you're supposed to let pies cool for an hour after they get out of the oven, but we ate it right after because it was almost 8:00 by the time we sat down to eat.
When everything was finished and laid out on the table (we had to expand it to make everything fit), it felt like something important was missing. Stuffing. My grandparent's stuffing is my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dish. It didn't make it on the table because I didn't feel up to the task, especially on a school night.
An overview of most of our food.
My host sister's added a French touch to Thanksgiving by serving Orangina, a French version of Fanta with pulp.
Over dinner, I explained to my host family about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Because it's a holiday specific to North America, they didn't know too much about it.
Crescent roll, snicker salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, and green bean casserole.
It felt really good to know that my host family is so open to learning more about US traditions. Sharing this special holiday in my life made me feel even closer to them.