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This Year

Last November I spent Thanksgiving eating pizza and assembling Ikea furniture, and that was okay.  I consoled myself with the thought that I would at least be home in Seattle for Christmas. But knowing that this year I wouldn’t be home for either holiday, I felt like I needed to do something, even if it was small. So I started planning a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for mein (vegetarian) Schatz and I.   By Monday that morphed into plans for a feast for the two of us and his Russian office-mate.

Still, I’m not much of a cook, and I had set myself up for a real challenge. But the pressure was relieved a bit by having only non-Americans to cook for – no need to worry about whether I’ve successfully replicated your mother’s homemade cranberry sauce or candied yams.  The next challenge came in the form of having to make everything from scratch, given that there isn’t anything premade here for Thanksgiving (i.e., no Stovetop Stuffing, no Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Filling, no frozen pie crust, etc.).*  Did I mention I’ve never actually made any traditional Thanksgiving dish from scratch before, ever?

Anyway, I found myself a German website that specializes in American recipes (their tagline line is: more than hamburgers and hotdogs), and had a whole section on Thanksgiving. This helped simplify the process because they only used foodstuffs that are available here (meaning I didn’t have to scour the internet for the German equivalent of baking powder, corn syrup, etc).  My only complaint is the recipes lacked on specifics, meaning I had to find out for myself how to turn a whole pumpkin into puree and how to roast and peel chestnuts (which was such a pain that I vow to never eat chestnuts again).

What was on the menu, you ask?

Baked turkey breast with butter and rosemary (still intimidated by the thought of roasting a whole turkey…)
Whipped sweet potatoes
Onion-chestnut stuffing
Apple and walnut salad
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Two bottles of Spätburgunder from the Meyer-Näkel winery

Pre-pie pumpkin
Pre-pie pumpkin
Mushy roasted pumpkin
Mushy roasted pumpkin
Pre-baked pie
Ready to bake
Fresh from the oven
Fresh from the oven
Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, wine
Thanksgiving dinner

Not bad, huh?  The food got rave reviews from the German and the Russian, and I thought it was pretty tasty too.  You can check out the photos over here.  And maybe next year, I’ll even invite over an American or two!

* Or maybe there actually is, but I didn’t plan far enough in advance to scope out any of the fancy food shops and had to rely on my local Edeka.


  1. Michelle says:

    That looks awesome!! Nice job, although I am almost crying at how good that pumpkin pie looks. My plan to make Thanksgiving dinner in Germany was foiled by me being in Mexico – so now the thought is to do a make-up Thanksgiving dinner in January after the holidays are over. :-)

  2. Ute says:

    I like the lovely pictures.At Christmas there will be chestnuts insite our turkey. I really know the pain, you speak of – but they are sooo tasty! Ute

  3. Christy says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! Looks wonderful! We had a big feast with other Americans, so I didn’t have make any of the hard stuff from scratch. Someone else brought the pumpkin pies. =) I made garlic green beans and green bean casserole (not too hard to find substitutions for that). I also laughed that some people had canned pumpkin that they brought from the states last year. =)

  4. Michelle: Thanks, I was very pleasantly surprised with the yumminess of the pumpkin pie. I wholeheartedly support your Thanksgiving-in-January! I often do that with Christmas cards — wait until after the holidays and I have time to write something meaningful to everyone.

    Ute: Can’t wait for Christmas dinner!

    Christy: Sounds like a great celebration. I have some friends in Falkland, Scotland that somehow managed to buy Libby’s pie filling, but it took some sweet talking at the store — the shopgirl had been hiding their few remaining cans beneath the counter!

  5. Traci says:

    I’ll send you some steamed chestnuts from Trader Joe’s next year. They are already cooked and vacuumed-sealed – no roasting involved. I put them in a wild rice dressing and they’re delicious. Props to you on the pumpkin pie and dinner itself! After hosting my third Thanksgiving this year, I’m very grateful for some of the easy yet delicous ingredients like Libby’s. :)

  6. Kristen says:

    Great job, Mandi! I see that Traci already told you about pre-prepared chestnuts. Frank made a chestnut soup for the first time this year and he bought chestnuts that were ready to use. The soup was delicious and not too much work. Your pie looks amazing! It’s awesome that you were able to pull this off.

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