Fall is my favorite time of the year for many reasons. I love the cooler weather, the colorful leaves, the crisp feel the air gets, the way the sun seems to shine softer on everything, and the smells of the season - from apples to pumpkin to that special smell of the leaves after they have fallen from the trees. Some of the best times, and best memories, happen in the fall. It starts on my birthday, continues with our anniversary, is followed by Halloween and finally Thanksgiving. For many, Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season. It is the turning point from fall leaves to winter snow; it ushers the coziness of fireplaces, flannel pajamas, family, and the warm smells of Christmas. While many Germans are starting to visit the local Christmas markets (which opened this weekend), Aaron and I, some German friends of ours, and Aaron's cousin (who is currently living near Munich), celebrated a belated, traditional American Thanksgiving!
We wanted to introduce our German friends to a little slice of American culture (and tastes!), so we planned a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie (completely made from scratch - even the crust!). Side note, pie does not exist in Germany. There isn't even a word for it. The closest is Kuchen (cake) or Torte, but neither of them adequately describes American pie. We had an entire discussion about this with the three Germans in attendance, after which they concluded that the word tart was the closest. Again, not the best description, so I will continue to use the word pie.
With our tiny German oven, which is about half the size of a typical American oven, and our limited pots, pans, prep equipment, and serving dishes, we had some interesting challenges cooking all the food. We started on Friday night and had to cook in shifts. Our poor oven, I don't think it was off for more than a few hours for the entire weekend! And the stove worked just as hard (and has the scars to prove it.).
We have also been fortunate enough to become friends with a military family that lives not far from here. She was able to get us a Butterball turkey for our little celebration! And cranberry sauce. The good, jellied kind, straight from the can! I know some of you may recoil at the thought of canned cranberry sauce, but Aaron and I both grew up with it; it's a holiday staple in the Oaks' household.
After nearly three days of cooking, it took about 0.6 seconds to completely destroy it all and dig in. All the dishes were a hit! Everyone went back for seconds, and it was mostly silent as we were eating. I always take that as a good sign - mouths are too full to talk :)
I'm going to declare Thanksgiving 2015 a success! Now, I just need to recover! Three days of cooking have left us sore and tired, but with full bellies and happy hearts. Even though we could not be with family again this year, it was nice to bring a little bit of home to Germany. And one thing is for certain, I will NEVER AGAIN take a fully equipped kitchen for granted ever again!