The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Friday, November 27, 2009

My First Thanksgiving In Scotland

It was a hit!

My first Thanksgiving in Inverness went really well. Some of it was a bit of a challenge, like trying to find shortening to make the pie crusts. Turns out it's called vegetable fat here. There were a couple of other things that took me two or three trips to the store to find because they are just packaged differently than the way I'm used to (like whipping cream). Other things were simply not to be found so Shauna sent me a care package from Seattle. Everything here is packaged in metric units, too, so when I bought things like sour cream I just had to eyeball it and make a guess as to how much to buy. Another challenge was that all of my recipes are in Fahrenheit and my oven dial is in Celsius so I kept having to convert all my cooking temperatures. 

Normally I get up early on the morning of Thanksgiving to get started so I can have dinner on the table by about 3pm. This year, though, I planned dinner for 6pm because yesterday was obviously a regular work day here. It was also a school day for me. I would have just skipped out on school but I was scheduled to give an in-class presentation so there was no way I could not be there (BTW, I got an "A"!) I knew I wasn't going to get home before 1pm but the turkey really needed to start cooking at noon so I got it all prepared and covered with foil before I left for school. I put it in the oven and left a note for the boys to turn the oven on at noon. When I rolled in (after one last stop at the store on the way home!) they were all busy vacuuming and tidying and cleaning the bathroom for me so I could get started with the dinner. My friend, Marie, showed up around 3pm to help with the preparations and Stuart brought over chairs about 5pm. So we were set when people started arriving an hour later.

Everyone was game to try new foods so I started them out with a yummy salmon ball and crackers, a 'to die for' starter that came from Karen Murphy a few years ago and a veggie tray that included raw cauliflower and broccoli. They are both eaten cooked over here but not raw so I wasn't sure how they would go over but evidently they were received well because there wasn't any left by the end of the evening. And I told everyone that since we were celebrating an American holiday then we were having 'chips' and dip, not crisps and dip! I tried a new recipe with dinner this year...sweet potatoes with peaches and cashews. I should have boiled them longer before baking them because they weren't quite tender all the way to the center when I pulled them out of the oven but nobody seemed to mind. There wasn't much left over. I make a dish that is not traditional to anyone's Thanksgiving table except mine. It's called Watergate Salad and it's made with pistachio pudding mix, milk, whipped topping, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut and colored miniature marshmallows. I've always said my children would mutiny if there was no Watergate Salad on the table at Thanksgiving! It's a lovely pastel green in color from the pudding powder and the colored marshmallows add splashes of yellow and pink. Of course, everyone's first reaction to it was "Oh wow, what IS that?" It's pretty sweet so it's not always to everyone's liking but it went over really well yesterday, especially with Kenny (LOL!). And, of course, everyone was very curious about the pumpkin pie. About half the folks liked it and the other half...not so much. But at least now they can all say they've tried it.

The biggest challenge of the evening was where to seat 13 people for dinner. Not only do we not have a dining room, we don't even have a table! This was originally just a 3 bedroom house, the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs and the kitchen and a combination living room and dining room downstairs. When Kenny bought the house he put up a wall to divide the living room/dining room in half so he could add another bedroom. That means that the downstairs now consists of my bedroom, the kitchen and a small sitting room that measures about 10x11. When I first came up with the idea of making Thanksgiving dinner for some of my friends Kenny wanted to know where I was going to put everyone. I said, "I don't know. I haven't figured that out yet!" So I just warned those who hadn't been here before that the house is small and we have no table so that meant that dinner was going to be really informal! I figured I could get 3 people on the couch and one in the rocking chair. We added Stuart's extra chairs to the sitting room and we also have 4 bar stools in the kitchen that sit at an open counter. It worked out fine and everyone just kind of flowed between the two rooms with food and drink. It got a little crazy just before dinner with me maneuvering around a dozen people in my madwoman dash to get things out of the oven and get the gravy made at the last minute but that just added to the festivities!

When dinner was ready I introduced them to another Thanksgiving tradition. Everyone gathered in the kitchen (ready for food!) and I asked each person to tell something in their life that they were thankful for. That was an easy one for me. I said I was thankful for all of them; that when I arrived here they all just gathered me into their little fold and made me feel so welcome. And that I was also thankful that they had all allowed me to share with them a little bit of my own culture.

Then it was time to eat!  It did my heart good to see so many of my new friends enjoying their first Thanksgiving dinner. If I had had more room I would have invited twice the number of people who were here, but I simply didn't have room for everyone! Laura and Hazel volunteered for kitchen duty and took care of all the dirty dishes before and after dinner so that I wasn't looking at total chaos when the evening was through. About 9 o'clock we called Thanksgiving dinner a success and went to the Gellions for a pint. Well, actually, Laura and Craig (newly engaged!), Sandra, Marie, Dougie, Jane and Hazel went home. Iain, Tobi, Chris, Kenny, Stuart and I went to the Gellions!

I talked to all 3 of my kids on the phone yesterday. Nikki, of course, was in Germany and Michael and Shauna were in Colorado on their way to Ruth's house with Steve and Ron. It could have been a sad day for not be with my chickens on Thanksgiving...but because of these amazing people who I am so lucky to call my friends, it was still a day to be thankful for!

No comments: