Friday, November 25, 2011

Gobble Gobble, till you wobble wobble!

I wasn't ever a huge fan of thanksgiving as a kid.  Sure I liked the long weekend home from school, but thanksgiving wasn't nearly as exciting as the holiday that follows it: Christmas.  The little memories I have of thanksgiving day in my home consisted of watching the macy's day parade with my brother and waiting like crazy to see Santa at the end.  One year we actually went to NYC to the parade, but were more interested in going to FAO Schwartz to look at the toys we could ask santa for.  As you can tell, christmas is my favorite holiday of all time!
Now that i've gotten older, I've come to realize how much work it takes to get the big meal together.  Being so far from family is a challenge I have to deal with every day here in Okinawa, but having the wonderful friends I have here makes it feel very much the same.  Last year, Dima came home early from his deployment around the Pacific.  I didn't have anything planned for thanksgiving because of this and was planning on just going to the Coats house.  So that's what we did. This year we volunteered to host thanksgiving with some new friends.  This was our first time hosting anything once I thought about it!  So with a 12 pound turkey and a decorated table, we embarked on hosting our first thanksgiving as parents.
My boys thanksgiving morning, ready for a day of cooking!

Our neighbor, Joe, had made a grilled turkey last year and it was fantastic.  We were dying to try it.  So it was to my relief that Dima took over the responsibility of cooking the turkey!  What more can a wife ask for?!  Dima loves grilling, but had never grilled a turkey before, so he was a bit nervous about it.  I am so proud of him, he did a wonderful job and I look forward to many more grilled turkeys in the years to come!
Dima stuffing the turkey with the citrus/parsley rub

he's hungry already!

Ready to go onto the grill!

What are you looking at punk?

My handsome husband :)

While he took over turkey duty, I worked on the details...
This was almost done.  Dima did a lot of setting the table actually.  I am so lucky to have married a man who was raised so well!

Taking care of the boy.  He likes the lid to his toy box more then many of his toys

Setting the bar.  That's edamame there on the left (cause we do live in japan!) and pumpkin hummus and veggies.  Plus much needed wine for those who were drinking!

In the meantime, I put in my dishes.  Because they don't sell sweet potatoes here, I made purple potatoes instead (Benimo).  They were a huge hit last year, and were a huge hit again this year too!
To keep up with our health, I also contributed a salad, and lemony brussel sprouts.  
And then the time came for the friends to arrive...
Zach playing with the big kids- Ben and Claire
I had used cookies in the shapes of leaves as place cards for our meal.  Claire was really upset because she wanted to eat her cookie!

I believe i've mentioned in previous posts about our friend, Chris.  Chris is an amazing cook.  Back in Texas, he participates in meat smoking competitions.  He also happens to be a surgeon, so he goes by the name "The meat doctor."  The boys were worried that a 12 pound turkey would not be enough for 6 adults and 2 kids and an infant... so Chris made his own turkey to bring and also decided to make a duck!
Chris's Cuban turkey.  It had that amazing smoked flavor to it!
The duck.  It was amazing.  Duck is very difficult to make, and Chris proved his skills with this meat.  Zach even liked it!

Chris carving his birds.  He's working on the duck right here!
Dima's turkey right off the grill.  It tasted even better then it looks!  It was so moist and flavorful.  I am so happy he succeeded in this recipe.  Looking forward to having it again!
Dima about to carve our turkey.  This was an honor to him because his dad always carved their turkey. This year he was the host and got to carve his prized bird!
At work...

And now... time to eat!
Some of the meat

Some of the food... green bean casserole, corn casserole, purple potato casserole, brussel sprouts, biscuits, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy, and so much more!

Don't forget to stay healthy!  Lots of salad!
Even Zach got to have some!  Here he is chomping down on some turkey!
Neko was so good because he wanted some yummy food!

Wendell begging
It was all wonderful and joined with great friends and good wine and vodka (this is a Russian tradition from Dima's family... Shots to celebrate)

Our meal ended and our generous neighbors helped clean up our kitchen.  
After thanksgiving means leftovers.  Part of this includes turning those turkey carcasses into turkey stock!  Here we have both our turkey, and Joe's turkey in slow cookers to make some yummy homemade turkey stock!  I freeze this and use it for cooking year round.  It's so much tastier and much healthier then using those store bought stocks.  I even used some homemade chicken stock in making the gravy!

After our food had settled, it was time for our second annual dessert party with the neighborhood.  
Chris made these pecan pies!  As you can see, they are big Texas fans!
This was my favorite dessert.  Ashley made this yummy flan.  It had an amazing caramelized taste to it!  
I contributed my traditional marbled pumpkin cheesecake, but forgot to take a photo!
During the party, we all got to hang by the bon fire, play some washers, and just relax!
Steve lecturing the "midgets" on not throwing the washers

Jess and Claire


Though we missed out on seeing our families, it was a wonderful thanksgiving.  I look forward to hosting many more in the future.  I certainly have a new found appreciation for this holiday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

You're 6- GO ENLIST!

Our next door neighbor, Joey is a Marine.  He may only be 6 years old, but he is as faithful to the marines as a man who's been in the service for 20+ years.  Not too long ago, he went through a phase where he would only wear camo clothes.  Pants, shirts, even underwear.  He wouldn't even leave the house at times until he had his clothes cleaned.  He is often seen outside hiding behind cars and jumping out at me with a nerf gun.  So it was no surprise to hear that his 6th birthday party would be a Marine themed party.
Welcome to the newest instillation of the Marine Corps... Camp McDaniel.  
Camp McDaniel was Founded in 2005 by General Joseph McDaniel

Camp McDaniel welcomes Marines of all ranks.

  Gunny London Coats is a proud Marine of Camp McDaniel.
Thousands of recruits are born every year just to join forces with the rest of the Marines here.  

As a general rule, General McDaniel enjoys keeping morale up by being silly both in and out of work.  
As a general rule, General McDaniel enjoys keeping morale up by being silly both in and out of work. 

Camp McDaniel is a duty station strives for strong Marines

1st Lt. Dimitri Stepanoff hard at work on the range

The people at Camp McDaniel are clean and organized.
Marines are encouraged to eat a healthy meal at their chow hall.

Enlistment at Camp McDaniel is a fine celebration for all
Marines preparing for combat.

Marines headed to the field with their MREs (M&M's ready to eat)

But hey, Marines don't listen anyway... (look at left officer carefully)

We hope you enjoy your tour here at Camp McDaniel.  Semper Fi.

General Joseph McDaniel

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Ask any Marine.  Just ask.  They will tell you their birthday is November 10, 1775 at Tun Tavern.  Anything after that is just a bit of a blur.
And so it's here, another Marine Corps birthday.  Last year I had to skip out because dima was deployed. The year before that I didn't know many people because we were about to move here.  And the year before that I didn't know anyone because we were not yet married and I still lived in Connecticut.  So this year I was very excited to be attending a ball with the most amazing Okinawa family.  Though they're Navy, the Coats and Baileys appreciate the Marine Corps and their history.  So with the presentation of colors, the cutting of the cake, then passed from the oldest to the youngest Marine, we were off to enjoy our meal and drinks!
Dima and I waiting on our food
This year was very different from past balls because we knew everyone at our table.  We didn't have to make small talk with strangers we would never see again just to get through the night.  This year our table was full of the friends we brought and the family we have developed.  
Jess, Louise, and I

The boys- Chris, Dima, and Steve

The crew.  Chris, Jess, Steve, Louise, Dima, Krimp

Jess and I

After a great meal (I believe the steaks that the rest of my table ordered were like hockey pucks) and some traditional cake, the music started and the fun began.  Now if you know me, you know I don't drink.  But somehow I ended up having 2-3 glasses of wine.  There goes our DD! If you know me, you also know that i do not dance.  Period.  I'm as white as they get on the dance floor.  I'm from Connecticut, we aren't known for our dancing skills!  But somehow this year with the combo of the wine and the friends, I did end up on the dance floor.  Though I didn't know most of the songs (something about Jagger?) I tried my best to keep with the beat.
And that's when it got crazy...

At the end of the night, we called our trusty friend, Joe to pick us up.  He was so nice, waiting outside the Delica and everything!

I was able to sit in the front with Joe, but the rest of our crew were crazy in the back of the car.  

We had a great time.  I cannot hesitate to say that this was the best Marine ball I've been to.  Thanks to our great friends for joining us and making the experience better!