We were kicking off the holidays here in London last week, starting with our first family Thanksgiving at home. I have never cooked on Thanksgiving. Not even a dessert. So preparing a full Thanksgiving meal, even if it was just for the three of us, was a little intimidating. Even though everything turned out just fine, I still much prefer sitting at the kids table and having the real adults cook for me. That is a much better tradition.
Armed with family recipes courtesy of my grandmother…
and vintage dishes that have been on my family’s table since the 70’s…
we made a pretty decent Thanksgiving feast.
On The Menu:
Belgian Crustille Ham
Roasted Garlic & Herb Stuffing
It wasn’t fancy or gourmet, and truthfully the only thing that required any real work was the mashed potatoes because I wanted them to be perfect, just like my grandmother’s. Everything else was simple. We didn’t have turkey this year because Cory and Lex are the ones that care about the meat and they both prefer ham. (But we still made stuffing anyway because I love it!) Hopefully this doesn’t make us bad Americans.
The dessert was Lexie’s responsibility and she made an apple crisp recipe she learned in her cooking class – buttered puff pastry with apple slices on top, sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar and baked to a crisp perfection in the oven.
Accompanied with tunes from the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams Jr, we brought a little southern USA to our flat in London for the evening. While it can’t compete with sitting around the table with our extended family, I think we did a pretty fine job of making our first Thanksgiving here in London special.
Because Lexie’s school doesn’t recognize Thanksgiving as a holiday, she still had classes the next day, but when the weekend rolled around we jumped right back into our regular traditions, starting with the decorating. Which, given the size of our flat, took a total of twenty minutes.
Like usual, Lexie was in charge of decorating our tree with the hodge-podge of homemade ornaments we’ve collected over the years. Our little tree – at only two feet tall, it could give Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree a run for its money. We have it on our table, because putting it on the floor would just be ridiculous, and we’re already using almost every inch of floor space as it is.
And because we’re nothing if not resourceful, when it hit us that we no longer have a mantle to hang our stockings on, we improvised and used the latch that holds our living room window closed.
We also got started on our Christmas baking over the holiday weekend, but it didn’t exactly end the way I expected. The PTA at Lexie’s school had asked parents to send in Christmas treats for the teachers, so we decided to make sugar cookies, the same kind I’ve made at least a dozen times before. They always turn out chewy with the perfect amount of sweetness.
It all started out okay. The dough felt a little stickier than usual, but not enough to make me worry. And then my first batch came out, not necessarily burned, but absolutely, completely stuck to the pan. Not to mention they’d also turned into a cookie sheet instead of individual cookies.
At this point, I started cursing the PTA because this is obviously all their fault. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t even be baking cookies! (After one meeting I quit the PTA. Unfortunately, this did not protect me from being asked to make cookies.)
You see, I’m not a baker. When something goes wrong, I don’t know how to fix it. So I proceeded to make the other four dozen cookies in exactly the same way as the first with only a slight improvement in results.
Four dozen rock hard cookies for the teachers. You’re welcome, PTA! Other than our unfortunate baking mishap, it was a lovely holiday weekend, and the first one we’ve spent at home, not going anywhere, for a very long time. With everything we have planned before we leave for the States, it will probably be our last for a very, very long time, too. Such is the holiday season. It’s the same every year and I wouldn’t have it any other way!