Sunday, November 28, 2010


Holiday Special

Its the day after Thanksgiving - I am listening to my first ‘legitimate’ Christmas carols right now (granted... I busted them out a couple times around july...)

Yesterday (actual Thanksgiving) was wonderful. A friend and I went to the imports shop and totally did it up - buying a 5.7kg turkey (12.5 lbs?) - which we actually managed to fit inside a chinese oven, and roast more than properly. (Best turkey roasting of my life... and on my first try! hah - I think I might have even beaten my father out on this one ~ though his gravy making skills and multi-tasking for a large gathering still beat me out hands down. For now...)

It was a task and a half. Cooking in a chinese sized kitchen for Thanksgiving is certainly difficult. Fortunately my friend has an oven, but otherwise, there was a massive shortage of everything but ingredients. It was intense - using a pie pan, a cast Iron skillet (an awesome relic that my Oklahoman friend had delivered via parentals earlier on in his time in China), and a few miscellaneous oven-survivable bowls, we managed to put out the following magnificent spread.

- A 5.7kg Turkey roasted to sinful perfection with butter inserted between the skin and the breast just like all the youtube videos told me to. we trussed the turkey with tinfoil rope that we made.... it looked like we were trying to block out some aliens... but it totally worked - with no added ‘foil flavors’. OH... and the turkey came with not only the organs and the neck... but the head as well - with the tongue intact.
- Cornbread stuffing made from scratch courtesy of my Oklahoman friend - Phenomenal... and I dont particularly care for corn, or cornbread... This was a chore and no mistake. The first time was attempted with an evidently legendary Oklahoman brand... which failed to rise to the challenge (da dum tch). So I reminded him that cornbread from scratch was really easy to make... and there just happened to be a lot of corn-flour/meal in a bag at the back of the kitchen. After doing some... ‘math’... he adjusted the recipe to fit our solitary pie pan. Batch two finished cooking, and we sampled it... and promptly got cotton-mouth from how salty it was. Batch THREE! I was preparing my own something that I can’t exactly recall, and I look over and watch my Oklahoman friend pull out the salt dish and nonchalantly shake a ‘measure’ from the dish into the dry cornbread ingredients. I gave his action an odd look and decided to ask him... “hey buddy? I thought we decided that last time was salty?” He looked at me and said “Thats salt? oh NO! I thought that was the sugar” No wonder last time was so salty!” And cue bout of cursing. . .(...) . . . and close. Pitch that batch of dry mix, and BATCH FOUR! this time it was a smashing success - quite possibly the most delicious cornbread I've had in a long time (tragedy heightens taste I’m convinced). From this magnificent stock, the stuffing was made.

- A pumpkin pie made completely from scratch. That means... I took Chinese elongated pumpkin, and by degrees, turned it into puree because canned pumpkin is clearly impossible to achieve - even at the import store. I ground the cinnamon bark, whole cloves and ginger in my coffee grinder (for the future... just mince the ginger... its wet and so the other ingredients cake to the walls of the coffee grinder... making the grinding a much more time consuming effort). AND I made the pastry-crust myself. I think the only way I could have possibly been more thorough is if I grew the ingredients, milled the flour, milked the cow and churned the butter, and harvested the cinnamon bark from a tree with my teeth.
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet potatoes (roasted by the local guys... and doctored up with sweetened condensed milk, sin, butter(same thing), and brown sugar)... not quite my father’s legendary sweet-potatoe souffle... but ridiculously popular none-the-less.
- Olives - both green and black
- Corn
- and some sort of stubborn gravy... oh well - who cares... Chinese dont even know what it is anyways.

There were 3 Americans, 5 Chinese, a Chinese-American baby, and a Filipino.

I started on the pumpkin the night before, biked home, and then biked back the next morning to a day filled with cooking. It was wonderful.

The reason I love Thanksgiving so much is that it has so few rules. There needs to be Turkey (or if otherwise unachievable .... some sort of roast fowl! possibly even roast beast), there needs to be orange gourd pie (colour change might be tolerated)... and some delicious beverages.

You are free to enjoy your friends and go overboard on gluttony.

Other seasons have so many pre established demands to meet, the inevitable non-meeting of those demands, and the tragic results that follow.

So let me say what I am thankful for:

- I am thankful for an adventure that many do not have the opportunity to have.
- Friends that are willing to open up their home and be multi-cultural (and multi-lingual ^_^).
- An import store that actually brought in turkeys.
- A wealth of culinary information available on the internet.
- People who are willing to try something new - and be open to liking it.


I won’t pretend, I burned with desire for the CanIL kitchen (a fully stocked kitchen at my University), but I was pleased as punch nonetheless.

It also gave me a picture of what it really means to have an international lifestyle. There was a sense of home, but it was very mobile, and not the same ‘home’ as you would expect during the holidays back in one’s country of origin. Living an international life means forever being ‘displaced,’ but still finding moments of belonging. It means finding a refuge in someone else’s apartment as you work together to celebrate something that everyone else doesn’t have experience with. It means picking up turkey with chopsticks and eating pie out of a bowl (also with chopsticks).

What do they say? When its dark outside, the best burn their brightest.

Just another chance to spread one’s wings then isn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. Pah, I have left all thoughts of the CanIL kitchen behind. In the veritable mansion where I have just moved, we have not just one but TWO gorgeous kitchens. And seldom is the kitchen empty, what with making fresh bread every week, delicious family-size meals, and parties nearly every other day. If you ever make it back to Vancouver, you can see first-hand this decadent lifestyle of kitcheniness.

    I'm glad to hear that you managed to find some like-minded friends for a holiday feast together.