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
Cannon

Jess and Claire

Louise

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!