Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day." ~ Robert Caspar Lintner

When I came to Orrefors I knew things would be different,  I would have American traditions and etc while others would have Norwegian, Finish, Swedish and Danish.  Luckily, most of the time this just means that we all get a few extra holidays thrown in, several Independence Days, St. Lucia, etc and etc...   I learned that in the past Americans have mentioned the glory of the Thanksgiving Dinner but never been able to deliver one to these poor, deprived Scandinavians.  I mentioned this to Sam while he was here at some point, he was horrified!  He and I were disappointed that we would not be able to spend the holidays together, but thought it would be great to do a Thanksgiving Feast here for me and my friends.  The only tricky part is one of my close friends is both gluten and lactose free in her diet due to allergies.  This is much more common in this part of the country but still difficult to deal with.  Thanksgiving is nothing if not full of gluten (pretty much anything with carbs in it) and lactose (milk, cream, cheese!).  So, needless to say Sam had his work cut out for him, luckily being the master chef that he is, he was up for the challenge.  We invited a few friends, making the dinner party 7 people and had it at Kirsten and Anniina's (they have a nice big kitchen and a table long enough!).  And, since this weekend is between my Thanksgiving and the normal American Thanksgiving I thought I would share the experience with you now :)

The menu was to remain classic and true to the traditional American Thanksgiving meal:
Mashed Potatoes,
Green-bean Casserole,
Cranberry Sauce, 
Gravy, and

Sam did tons of research online about cooking gluten and lactose free as well as how to cook an entire turkey since it would be his first time.  Actually, it would be his first time being completely responsible for the entire meal for seven people! We made Anniina go to the grocery with us the day before.  Since she lives with Kristen she would know better what she could and couldn't eat, also she knows more Swedish then me.  
Here is the trusty list Sam made to take the store and help in the cooking process:
We went to Willies to get all of the supplies.  We wandered around the store a million times in search of this and that and lactose free something or other... I looked in my Swedish/English dictionary like 10 times and in the end we had to go to ICA (another grocery) to get the turkey and cranberries! We couldn't do without the turkey and cranberries! 
 Here is our frozen 5.6 kg (12.4 lbs) turkey!  Sam managed to defrost it one night!
 Sam had to make the french fried onions (for the green-bean casserole) from scratch since they had to be gluten free.  We got the flour from Anniina and Sam cooked 'em up the night before the feast!
 What a cute cook I have!

Sam also made the cranberry sauce before, in the morning while I had school.  He got frozen cranberries, orange juice, half a bag of sugar and it turned out amazing! I think it took him a long time, but I am not completely sure since I was in school.
 We got this for the stuffing.  We thought already made bread would be easier then making some from scratch.
 So, we toasted white and grain gluten free bread for the stuffing!  I had to melt a ton of butter off to the side... yum.
 Anniina made the pie and put it in the oven right after school before we did the turkey.  
She makes wonderful baked things so we were all very excited for the pie!
 Sam started to prepare the turkey... wash it, dry it, clean out the insides (yuck!!!).
 Anniina was captivated by this whole process since she had never seen anyone do anything like it! Sam pulled out a turkey neck and some giblets from the inside I think.
 Then stuffed it with all that you see on the side, an onion, lemon, head of garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and I think that is it... But it all goes in with skin and everything on and makes it super tasty!
 Then smothered it in the block of melted butter which had lemon and some thyme in it I think, or maybe some other leafy green herb... just imagine something VERY TASTY!
 In it went.... it barely fit!!
 Anniina made a beautiful table for us all! I even managed not to spill red wine on it! It turns out that is the only place I didn't spill I think...
 Then Sam started making some turkey stock for the gravy and maybe something else.  I got really grossed out by the neck in there.  The rest is just poultry stock concentrate stuff.  Pretty gross looking, but we didn't eat the neck, so it was OK in the end.
How awesome does that pie look now that is all done?!??! WONDERFUL!
 I am chopping celery... fun stuff...  This is the point when everyone arrives and Rosanne starts taking over the pictures.  Everyone sits down at the table right behind Sam and I starts talking and drinking and asking Sam lots of cooking questions while I continue to chop.  And try not spill things...
 Sam is diligently stirring something important... probably that sick neck!  Or maybe the mashed potatoes, we got the frozen kind of Ikea and put in lactose free cream and stirred until our arms almost fell off.  Rosanne did most of the potato stirring I think though.
 Still cutting celery... I had to cut it up to add to the stuffing.  You can see the cut up toast next to me...
 I think this is when we opened the sausage, saw the below, determined it was similar to baloney and Anniina started to doubt how this all might turn out....
 So, we added the baloney sausage and some green apples to the stuffing and some of the turkey neck stock. Then I dropped the container full of extra bread, slammed it into my wine glass and smashed everything on the floor covering about a meter big circle in bread and wine... and cut my hand... It wasn't pretty.  Rosanne leapt into cleaning action and took care of me!
 The turkey got poked and prodded with a thermometer and then got to come out and join the party!
 And now the whole party groans from the wonderful smell and growing hunger pains! It looked amazing and smelled even better!
 The green-bean casserole and stuffing went into the oven next!  It hasn't gotten the precious onions on it yet... we were worried about them getting soft, so they went on seconds before the whole thing entered the oven.

Then, the cat jumped up on the window sill, Jokke lets out a girly squeal and we all turn to see the cat smoking! She had burned her whiskers on the candle, hauls ass out of the room and everyone bursts into laughter as Jokke runs off to check her out! He brought her back, I don't think she wanted to come back, and the poor thing had burned off half her whiskers, or mustache as Jokke called it at first.  That made the aroma a little different for a while, burnt cat hair and turkey... yum.  It was dinner and a show ;)
 Here is Sam doing the traditional carving of the turkey.  Sadly, they didn't have an electric cutter like in Rocky Horror... but he did a good job anyway and appears to be enjoying it.
 Then, I was supposed to get the pan drippings from the freezer... they were there separating the fat from the rest of it, so Sam could make the gravy.  I spilled half of it all over the floor... I am not sure how, and about a third of it into the freezer... it was pretty gross.  Luckily, Sam managed to use the rest, some turkey neck stock, gluten free flour and make a great gravy.  Then I got down this nice glass bowl for him to pour it into... which broke completely when the hot gravy hit it because it turns out it was an extra from the factory which hadn't annealed correctly and couldn't handle the temperature change... sooooo GRAVY WENT EVERYWHERE!
 Here is Anniina and Sam trying to salvage it into another bowl... they made a makeshift funnel/ramp for it to go down from a cutting board and scooped it off the stove top.
 Maybe not the most hygenic... but it worked and still tasted great!
But, looked pretty disgusting afterwards.
 Here is of the official spread!!! 
 Turkey (beautifully cooked and carved), green-bean casserole in the back with crispy onions on top, stuffing in the bottom right and some cabernet sauvignon in the background.
 Gluten free rolls, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce to finish it out!
 Kirsten made her plate and had a special request to get the turkey leg which Sam happily obliged.  Does it not look like the perfect Thanksgiving plate?!?!?
 Here is the whole crew: (clockwise) Sam, Jokke, Kirsten, Marja, Rosanne and Anniina. 
All my friends settling down to dig in! :)
 But before we started we went around the table and said what we were all thankful for.  I thought I should write it down but I didn't and can't remember everyones... but here is the gist:

Sam was thankful that I had such wonderful friends to take care of me while I was here and he was so far away.
Jokke's list was very sweet and nice and set the bar very high for the rest of us to follow... I can't remember what it was exactly though.
Kirsten was thankful for the opportunity of being able to do this and good friends.
Rosanne was thankful for good friends and the food I think,
I just went "ditto" and then said I was thankful for the opportunity to do glass, good friends, a wonderful boyfriend who cooked all this for me and my friends and still loves me even though I moved half way across the world to follow my dream.
Anniina was also thankful for friends and family and all the normal things.  
Friends was the theme of the night, makes sense since we are our own makeshift family here.  Hearing everyone express it though really made me happy and almost brought tears to my eyes.  
 Then it was time for dessert! HOORAY! But we were all so full we didn't know if we could do it!
 Jokke and Kirsten shared a slice since it wasn't gluten free and Kirsten shouldn't eat that much, or any really.
 The two men of the evening :)
 And, now we are all melting into our seats, wishing for pants with elastic in the top and dreading waking up tomorrow and going to school this full!
 But the pie looked so good, especially on a blue plate! It had apple, walnuts, and figs or dates or something in it.  And caramel! Looking at all these pictures is making my mouth water again!
 Anniina was clearing up and Jokke got to see that Kirsten has no fingerprints.  She wears them off rolling the pipes and Jokke became very jealous.  And Sam has clearly let out a sigh of relief that the meal turned out great and everyone was very pleased with their Traditional American Thanksgiving.
 Everyone got a little to-go container of food to take home.  Then Rosanne noticed that there was still some green-beans left and took all of those too (she has already asked for the recipe)! I think everyone was pleased and got a big plate of leftovers the next day or whenever they wanted, also traditional end to a meal like that for people our age... 
 The other good thing about doing it at Kirsten and Anniina's was that Sam and I just got leave after it was all said and done.  The place was a complete wreck! I even tried to clean as we went, but it was pointless.
 It was nice to help Sam cook an amazing meal and then get to walk away afterwards and crawl into bed and let the tyrptophan in the turkey put you to sleep!

Sadly, that was Sam's last night in Orrefors and Sweden in general.  The next morning I took him to the train station and got to see my first Swedish sunrise!  Kind of bittersweet I would say.
I talked to everyone a day or so later from the dinner and Kirsten said she wasn't hungry until 8PM the next day.  Anniina had a food hangover and Jokke enjoyed his leftovers he let me know on facebook! I am so happy it was a success and even though I spilled a million things everyone enjoyed themselves and Rosanne cleaned me up.  

Looking back at these pictures makes me miss Sam even more.  It is hard having had him here and now gone, before I couldn't picture him here with me, or remember him being anywhere here... but now I can and my friends know and like him and ask about him.  I am happy here and don't regret for an instant my coming here, but sometimes I miss home and being with Sam and close my friends and family.  Oh well, I will see everyone right after Christmas!!! Until then, enjoy your own Thanksgiving and don't forget to be thankful that you are close to the ones you love!  I am thankful for this opportunity and the complete support from the ones I love.  MISS YOU ALL!

1 comment:

  1. Awh!!!! that was a sweet Thanksgiving dinner story thank you for sharing it with us!!!
    I will think about it on Thursday when we have Thanksgiving and pretend that you are here too.
    I am sure we all miss you too and are looking forward to seeing you after Christmas!
    I am also glad that you are doing this and doing it so well