Sunday, November 29, 2015


First of all, if it isn't obvious already, Australia does not recognize Thanksgiving. But many of our friends here seem familiar with what it is and wished us a happy day. We tried to invite a family over to share it with us, but it didn't work out with what was going on at Church that day, and we were really craving some family time anyway. Okay, maybe it was just ME that was craving family time.

Our first challenge for Thanksgiving was actually finding time to be together. I originally thought we'd have Allen and Maddie take the day off work on Friday so we could have it at the same time as our family in the U.S.  But Allen had a meeting he couldn't miss Friday afternoon and Maddie is trying to minimize her days off so we can travel. Saturday we had a church meeting in the evening and Maddie needed to run some errands (since she's always gone during the weekdays) so we opted for Sunday. We were going to be home from church earlier that day because meetings only went until 12, so we'd have the rest of the afternoon to cook and prep and enjoy some time together.

I'm organizing this post into shopping, cooking, eating, and feeling.

Turkey here is pretty expensive. I can buy boneless chicken breast for $7-8/kilogram (around $3.50/lb). The turkey was $7.50/kilo which was a good price, but it included all the bones and wings and everything so it's considerably more than chicken for just the meat part. Turkey breasts were priced at $20/kilogram. We didn't buy those!

We did NOT buy this turkey. We found a 4kg turkey for $30. That is about 9 pounds, and worked out to be just over $3/pound. Still quite a bit for a turkey. We are used to getting them for about $1/pound in the U.S.!

Other things that were different in my Thanksgiving purchasing this year. I had to buy an actual pumpkin and roasted it myself in advance. I scraped the pulp from the rind and pureed it in the blender. I couldn't find whipped topping in a frozen tub, so I bought a can. The celery for the stuffing is just HUGE. It's an issue when you're trying to fit everything for the big meal in the fridge. No Ritz crackers for appetizers but I found a brand that would suffice. They are not as buttery and greasy and I like them better.

The big score was the cranberry sauce. It's in a cute little jar with a lid, just like jam. I found jellied cranberry sauce AND whole berry sauce. They were $3 each and are smaller than the cans in the states.

I had asked all the kids in advance what dishes were on their "must have" list. We narrowed it down to
mashed potatoes
sweet potatoes
cranberry sauce
butterhorn rolls
buttermilk pie
pecan pie bars (as a substitute for pecan pie, recipe below)
green peas (because we have to have something green)

I know, it's missing pumpkin pie. I was hoping to make a pumpkin chiffon/mousse type dessert with gingersnaps crumbled on top. But I can't whip cream because I don't have a mixer, and I couldn't find any pre-whipped topping in containers. So I gave up. But don't worry, I made some FABULOUS pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. And smeared with nutella they were amazing. (I'll post the recipe below). And Millie came up with the amazing idea to add pumpkin pie spice to hot chocolate and it's so comfy and wonderful.

Things we left off the menu:
scalloped corn (Allen's favorite)
cornbread stuffing (Shelly's favorite but I haven't found ground sausage here)
pumpkin pie
apple pie
4x as many butter horn rolls. The kids were feeling SO DENIED because we ONLY made 28 rolls. But I only have two baking pans. 

I cut up a loaf of bread the night before and dried it in the oven for the stuffing. I made the buttermilk pie Saturday night and it looked SO good. I was thinking it was because I had blended the ingredients in the blender instead of the mixer so everything was finely mixed and slightly whipped. I also made pecan pie bars against my better judgement because I KNEW I wouldn't be able to control myself eating them. 

Sunday afternoon everyone was really looking forward to the meal. They all disappeared in their rooms to wait. I went and got them all. I didn't make anyone help, but I wanted us to be together. Really, Allen and Maddie are gone so much, and I MISS, MISS, MISS Sunday dinners with my siblings and older daughters. I really wanted time together to welcome in the Christmas season. 

Millie was happy to help with the sautéing, and both she and Karly did a great job dressing up the table with whatever they could find. We don't have much! And seriously, plastic plates. And plastic serving dishes. Actually one of those is an ice cream container. So not classy, but we don't care. 

left to right:
disposable baking pan, ice cream container, pyrex batter bowl, plastic dinner plate (3/$1), thrift store springform pan, and the rolls in a plastic mixing bowl. Cuh-LASSY! But if you could see their faces, they were smiling.)

I dressed the turkey with some fresh rosemary from our my garden. I slipped the rosemary under the skin. I rubbed the outside with sage, thyme, paprika and garlic powder. Then I sprayed the whole thing with olive oil. It looked so good! I don't have a picture! Waaaa! 

Allen usually gets the task of rolling out the butter horn rolls. I think he doesn't like it because his personality always wants a perfectly round shape when he rolls them out but it doesn't happen and he has to fight with it. But I think he did a perfect job! They looked absolutely heavenly. 

I decided to experiment with the sweet potatoes. I sliced them thin and arranged them with apple slice to make them prettier. It would have been better in a pie pan with slanted sides, but it turned out okay. All I did was put them in untreated, sprayed them with olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt. Oh, and just a little bit of raw sugar over the apples. I covered the pan with foil and baked for a long time. 

A long time. Because... the turkey. It's always the dang turkey.

It was supposed to defrost for 2 days in the fridge. I gave it three. It was still frozen and took longer to cook than expected. I didn't have a thermometer and it didn't have a little popper either so we didn't know until we started to carve it that it was still raw in parts. Seriously we had the potatoes mashed and the beans steamed and the rolls freshly baked. And we had to put it all under foil. No fun. Maddie gave up and went to take a nap.

The reason there is no picture of the turkey is because by the time it was finally done we were ready to EAT! We cut it quick and set it out.

I had scored a large bag of fresh green beans at the grocery store for only $2. The girls helped me snap them while we talked (bonus!) and I steamed them just before eating. Except that raw turkey thing ruined that timing. I forgot to turn them off so they got VERY well steamed for a long time. They weren't as pretty and fresh as I had hoped. 


This is the FIRST time we've actually sat at a table to eat a meal. I got an outdoor patio table for free several weeks ago, but have kept it outside thinking we'd start eating outdoors. But The Commuters get home pretty late and it's usually kinda cold, so I finally gave up and brought it indoors. I was hoping we could eat outside for Thanksgiving and make ya'll jealous. Oh well.

There was a noticeable lack of discussion in the first 10 minutes. The food was good. They were happy!


It felt good to enjoy a family tradition together. This is our first big holiday away from home. We got to FaceTime both of our daughters in the states while we did the cooking. And we broke out the Christmas music while we worked. It really doesn't FEEL like Christmas here because it's getting warmer and we are moving into summer. But that music just felt so good to hear and really changed the mood. I'm so glad for music. It is magical.

You know what was SO GREAT? After the meal, no one rushed off to their rooms. They stayed. And we talked. And we laughed. And it felt like Sunday dinner back home again. I couldn't have been more thankful for the Thanksgiving meal bringing that back to us.

We crammed a 4-day weekend into one afternoon. It wasn't perfect but we are happy with our Thanksgiving Day. There are a lot of things we are doing without but no one cares. We have what we need. We have met some wonderful friends who have helped us a lot and GIVEN us a lot.

And no one is missing the Black Friday chaos.


The Buttermilk Pie was basically the only dessert (I am left to face those Pecan Pie Bars alone! Yikes!) and the pie was a BUST. I think I under baked it. It's so hard to bake in this oven. It looks like it's a pro-level oven with 5 burners and extra large baking capacity and convection air, but it STINKS! It burns on the right side in a very small spot about 4" around. You have to rotate the pans every 5 minutes. And then maybe other areas don't get cooked enough. Like a pie. And a turkey. So the pie looked fluffy and nice when I pulled it out, but it flattened and turned into a rubbery unsatisfying blah. No amount of whipped cream helped it. But if you only eat the whipped cream anyway, it doesn't matter.

Notice he's alone at the table with his pie!

Pecan Pie Bars:
1/2 c oil
2 c brown sugar
1/3 c water
1 t vanilla
2 c pecans, coarsely chopped 
2 c flour
2 eggs
2 t bkg powder

Bake in a greased 13x9 pan at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

Pumpkin Pancakes
I made these up based on a muffin recipe. I blended it in the blender to hide the oatmeal texture. These were SO GOOD. 

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 T coconut oil
1 t vanilla
1 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c oats
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Blend the wet ingredients first, then add the dry ingredients. Fry in a skillet as usual. Top with applesauce or nutella. Or whatever. So good.

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