Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranberries and Pumpkin and Turkey-- Oh My!

Sometimes, no matter how smart or resourceful or tough you think you are, life kicks you in the face. This week, between being away from my family at Thanksgiving, learning that my grandma was seriously injured in a bad car accident and having to work during my weekend I sort of felt like life had delivered a round-house kick to my jaw.

But, today, while still staggering from the blows, I was reminded that even in the middle of chaos there is beauty and joy…

To be honest, my weekend of work (my host parents were out of town) went quite well. The children (who I adore, by the way), were quite well-behaved and helpful. I didn’t even mind getting up in the night with the baby as much as I thought I would. Additionally, my host dad’s mother came to help out, which was a wonderful surprise. Not only is she great with the kids, but I genuinely like and admire this woman. She’s one of those people who makes you feel instantly at ease, a rare quality that cannot be faked or learned.

Kristin and I in my TINY kitchen
That being said, I was still thankful to be freed from childcare duty when my host parents returned home on Sunday afternoon. Not only was I ready for a little time away from work, but I was also looking forward to making an expat Thanksgiving dinner with Kristin, who also happens to be a misplaced American.

 Now, if we had been smart, Kristin and I would have started planning this little meal ahead of time, especially since we both know how difficult it can be to find certain American ingredients (cranberries and pumpkin come to mind) in Germany. However, being smart is overrated and so we started planning on Friday evening. Kristin emailed me a few recipes, I made a grocery list and early Saturday morning before I had to be up with the kids I ran to the grocery store and bought as many of the necessary ingredients as I could find. I then returned to my apartment and logged on to Facebook to check in with Kristin. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me:  I couldn’t find thyme, dry mustard or sage but I’ve got everything else. Hopefully this isn’t an epic fail.
Kristin: I found cranberries at the grocery store and I’m going to make a pumpkin pie. Whatever else happens, it will be fine.
Me: WOOT! Cranberries! You are my hero.
Kristin: I’m taking the 12:30 train. See you on Sunday.
Me: Bring garlic.
Kristin: On the train? With the pie and the cranberries?
Me: And don’t forget the wine.
Kristin: All this on the train…
Me: People will think you’re crazy.
Kristin: Who cares? We have pumpkin pie.
Me: And cranberries.

Our wonderful meal!
And so commenced the most epic Thanksgiving meal ever.

In my tiny kitchen with my desk as a table and a beeswax candle for ambiance, Kristin and I made a feast… turkey breast (It looks dry? Pour some more wine over it), mashed potatoes (Why do they look so pasty?), green beans (What can we do to spice these up? Add onions and garlic—and wine!), sweet potatoes (Let’s just make up a recipe as we go) and pumpkin pie (It survived the train ride!).

We didn’t have all the proper utensils or ingredients, we used an online converter just to figure out what temperature to preheat my Celsius oven to and the turkey almost ended up splattered on the floor. But the meal was glorious. And delicious. And soul-soothing.

The combination of good company, good food and just a hint of the outrageous made for a magical afternoon this American expat won’t soon forget. 
Pumpkin Pie


  1. This is a meal that you will be remembering and talking about 20 years from now. It is these kind of memories that we treasure. Wasn't an easy Thanksgiving....but how wonderful that you had a friend to share this memory with! Makes me realize that we take our cranberries for granted. Thank-you God for easy access to cranberries and pumpkin! Thank-you God for such wonderful nieces and nephews too. Love, Aunt Julie

  2. we sure did miss you here- and as we were putting away the leftovers, we said now if Christina were here we wouldn't have to be putting anything away cuz there was just a bit of everything left. I am glad to hear you had a friend over for thanksgiving and were cooking with wine. :)
    love you lots,

  3. That's my girl!! Our traditions took a hit this year, but we all took positive steps and were able to Give Thanks!!! Grandma is doing much better, you made lemonade out of lemons, and we are blessed with amazing friends who didn't bat an eye about three extra people at their Thanksgiving table!!
    Love you soooo much!!

  4. I'm so proud of us! This will definitely be a Thanksgiving that I will never forget! I can't believe we pulled it off without even planning it and it didn't even take as long as I thought it would. Such good times. :-)

  5. LOVE the commentary about each food item! So perfect.