Thanksgiving – Squared

It would appear that the UK is beginning to embrace Thanksgiving with quite a passion. I can quite understand why – pumpkin pie deserves to be added to the British menu and it’s always good to say thank-you. After last year’s inaugural Thanksgiving experience, this year I manage to double my thankfulness with a Matryoshka Haus Thanksgiving the weekend before the official date; and a Thanksgiving/Christmas with the St George’s students nearly a week after the occasion.

There can never be too many opportunities on which to eat pie.

Chocolate coins may now be my favourite table decoration – pretty and tasty.

In true Thanksgiving style, it seems only sensible to reflect upon the season via thankfulness…

Obviously, I’m thankful for Matryoshka Haus, Shannon and the Thanksgiving tradition she’s built up in London. We’ve written a fair bit about it on the In Da Haus blog, but suffice to say, Thanksgiving is all about community and the communal table – which Matryoshka Haus epitomises.

I’m thankful that other people will usually cook the turkey and that I was only left in sole charge of the bird for 20 minutes. (For the St George’s crew we compromised with Waitrose rotisserie chickens. God bless Waitrose!)

All I had to deal with was the foil and an initial blast in the oven. 
Thankfully, this year’s turkey went un-named.

On a Saturday afternoon full of cooking and a little bit of stress, I was very grateful to discover that I’m not alone in my love of singing along to musicals while working in the kitchen. I may now never be able to listen to Les Mis without remembering some admirable falsetto efforts from a male member of the community…

I am inordinately grateful for Shannon’s family egg-nog recipe (I blogged it last year). It’s delicious and boozy and generally wonderful. I’m also thankful for the tip to serve it only in plastic cups, which saved me a lot of glasses when the students came round; and hugely grateful that when I made it for the second time in just over 2 weeks, I had a proper electric mixer with which to mix it. I’m also grateful that I managed to separate 12 eggs without incident, despite having spent the previous three hours drinking mimosas while cooking. Thankfully, I also halved the recipe for the students, so I didn’t have to drink 3 litres of it on my own.

My contribution to the MH Thanksgiving: mini pecan pies & mini apple crumble pies.
Almost everything’s better in miniature… 

I thank the internet and its myriad pie recipes – particularly this pecan pie recipe that’s American, yet incorporated that most British of ingredients: Golden Syrup. I also thank the students who made two different varieties of pumpkin pie and a pecan-apple one too. (God bless Waitrose again for stocking tinned pumpkin.)

Thankfully well-risen Yorkshires and the remnants of fabulous student pies.

I’m thankful for a church that supports me in a sometimes ridiculous ministry. Especially when it lets me ransack its kitchen for extra plates, jugs, glasses and even a table, so that I can successfully feed 12 people around the same table in my lounge. I’m also rather thankful for the marvellous flat the church provides me with. This meal would have been impossible last year.

A selection of well-fed students. 
(Bless the guys for their persistance with paper hats.)

Thanks where thanks is due

I think there’s a general feeling of bitterness among the British that, during the last week of November, the Americans get an extra holiday – specifically, an extra food-based holiday. As Jimmy Carr put it on Twitter:
“It’s Thanksgiving today. Long story short it’s where Americans give thanks to the English for inventing them. You’re welcome.”

Before my American friends assault me, yes, I’m being glib. I’m also deliberately avoiding the thorny issue of the fate that awaited the Native Americans who so kindly assisted the first settlers…
Anyway, this year I was very pleased to welcome the holiday (albeit a day late) into my life. On Friday, a community of 40 people gathered in Mile End to celebrate and give thanks – and to eat a vast quantity of food. I am very thankful indeed…
Firstly, I have to be thankful for college giving me permission to skip an evening of #VicarWeekend in order to be there. [All I missed was a Church History lecture on the Middle Ages – nothing happened then, right??] 
I am thankful that a professional chef (and his wife) flew in from Texas to cook for us. [I am less thankful that the Turkey was named Millicent on Twitter prior to eating – my pseudo-vegetarian sensibilities mean that I’m not so keen on eating named animals. But the fact that Millicent, once cooked, had to be transported from Bethnal Green to Mile End in a taxi rather makes up for it. Comedy.] 
The Mash Mountain (& accompaniments) and Millicent, in the oven…

I am thankful for the opportunity to use a fiercely powered blender (and learn some new skills). My black-bean hummus may have looked grim, but it was delicious. If someone could send a blender my way, I’ll be knee-deep in hummus before I know it! [The less said about the fantastically gross activity that was squeezing cloves of roasted garlic, the better…some people have very dirty minds.] 
I wasn’t sure that I’d be particularly thankful for eggnog, but it seems that it is actually the alcoholic beverage of the Gods (at least Shannon’s Step-Dad’s recipe is). Yum. Yum. Yum. 
First ever eggnog, which was closely followed by a second. 
(And then followed by a pint of water.) 
I’m less thankful for the invention of American Football. The ball is a stupid shape, meaning that it doesn’t bounce/travel through the air in the way that one would expect it to. This means that one looks like a total idiot when one tries to kick it in the air, only for it to return to earth narrowly missing one’s head… 
I’m especially thankful for the presence of a 5 day old baby (no name yet) at Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for his safe arrival; his intense adorableness; and the fact that I got to hold him for a few blissful minutes. Honestly, there are few ills in the world that can’t be put right by a cuddle with a newborn. [I actually have a theory that there would be fewer wars if world leaders spent more time holding babies…]

Most of all, I’m thankful for Shannon and the Matroyshka Haus community. For Shannon, who had the idea in the first place; and the community that’s gathered around her – both of which are now very special fixtures in my life. A year ago I barely knew most of the people I spent Friday with; now, I see them most weeks and have just booked my second trip to France with them. 
I believe Thanksgiving is all about family, and I’m really pleased that I got to experience my first one with my London brothers and sisters.