Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Move Over Matha -

Stewart, that is.

This week is proving to be, um, busy. It's one of my favorite weeks of the year: Thanksgiving. Something about the anticipation of the delicious meal (on a Thursday, none the less), the shopping, the football, the parades, the decorating for Christmas, and the lead-in to the wonderful holiday season . . . it just gets me all excited and this year has been no different. In all fairness, I must admit that we bought and decorated a Christmas tree 2 weeks ago, a tradition usually saved for Thanksgiving weekend for me, but since we leave here December 12 to head north, we figured we'd better go ahead and get a jump on it. (Well that and we're just sort of dorks and we get all giddy about Christmas. We put on some Christmas music and sang carols while putting up our tree one hot evening in early November.)

And you know, it's probably a good thing we got the tree thing done already because I might not have the energy to do it after our festivities this week.

Last year around this time, we were talking up Thanksgiving and explaining the tradition to our friends down here. We told them that this year we'd have a big traditional Thanksgiving Dinner and have them over. So this week has been full of preparations for tomorrow night's event. And I've been pretty pumped over the whole deal. Back home, my Grandma does an awesome meal for Thanksgiving - and she pretty much doesn't except help in that department. (As I recall, a few years ago the rest of the family offered to start helping so she didn't have to do so much, so she turned over desserts to everyone else. But I swear she still always has a couple pumpkin pies, pecan pies, and maybe a cake or two sitting around when we arrive. She is who I credit (blame?) for my love of cooking and my 'you can never have too much food' mentality. You really should see how she whips out meals for my entire extended family!)

Anyway, this is the first Thanksgiving meal I get to cook, so that excites me. And then, as I started gathering my recipes and preparing the menu, it occurred to me that making an American Thanksgiving Dinner in Brasil would prove rather difficult. Well, not so much difficult as time consuming and dish-dirtying. Take for example, green bean casserole. One of the absolutely simplest of all my Thanksgiving staples, really not much too it at all. Then take away cream of mushroom soup in a can. Now I find myself making a cream soup from scratch to use in my recipe. Then let's talk dressing. Cornbread dressing is simple enough: cornbread crumbs, biscuit crumbs, chicken broth . . . oh wait. You can't buy chicken broth. So I buy some chicken, add some water and veggies and spices, and simmer that for several hours before straining it so that I have some broth to use in my dressing and to make the homemade noodles (also a staple for Eric and me). And pumpkin pie, well, no canned pumpkin. So here I go roasting, peeling, scraping, and pureeing pumpkin . . . I think you get the picture. I feel a bit like I'm making Thanksgiving in the year 1802. Except with things like Kitchen-Aid mixers, Cuisinart food processors, Caphalon cookware, gas stoves . . . but other than that, I'm pretty darn sure this is how my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandma must have done it.

So everyday this week I have spent a large chunk of my day in the kitchen preparing the ingredients I need to prepare my Thanksgiving feast. And then washing the mountain of dishes that I've dirtied in the process. And my poor refrigerator - it is so jammed full right now, it's not even funny.

But I am having fun!

On top of my Thanksgiving Dinner hosted for some of our Brasilian friends, we were invited to do Thanksgiving with an American friend of mine and her family on Sunday. So I get to whip up some of the most traditional dishes that Eric and I just must have for it to be Thanksgiving and share a meal with some other Americans, along with some Canadian friends too! I'm really looking forward to it since I will be able to call everything by it's actual name instead of some made up Portuguese version I created to try and explain what I am feeding everyone!

And just because it'd be a shame to run out of things to do this week, the language school where I teach is having a special 'Around the World' event on Saturday morning for all of our students. I was assigned to be a beer wench, I mean waitress, at the German station where students will visit a "restaurant" to practice their verbal skills by conversing with the 'wait staff' and ordering their sausage and potatoes. (Being pretty much the only blonde at the school, I feel I was totally type-cast for the spot!) It's going to be fun, but I have to be in costume. I went to a local costume rental shop and was excited to find they had a German-girl outfit. However, it was apparently designed to fit a 5'2" tall woman weighing roughly 105 pounds. Needless to say, I proceeded on to a fabric shop and now I am sewing my own costume - without a pattern. (Oh, I soooo can't work without a pattern!!!) We'll see how that turns out.

So, if you'll excuse me now, I have biscuits to make and crumble for my dressing. And pie crust to roll out. And the floors still need mopped. And that stack of material has yet to transform itself into a dress. I think I'm going to put on my domestic goddess apron now and get back to my Suzie Homemaker duties . . . or maybe just crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and hide until Monday . . . I haven't decided which yet. ;)


Corinne said...

Geez Emily I didn´t know you were doing TWO Thanksgivings!! Why didn´t you say something?? Now I feel bad that you are making so much food!! At least I am giving you canned pumpkin for our dinner (and I got extras - I could still give you one for tomorrow night). I use chicken boullion instead of chicken broth here in Brazil. Not the same thing I know, but I just don´t have time to make stock all the time.

Ray Adkins said...


You are too funny!
You are starting to sound like a typical New Englander, Matha!
Just remove all the "Rs" from the middle of every word and you will sound just like a Bostonian...
Have a great Thanksgiving!


Aline said...

It sounds like a fun task...except the cleaning part...i just came back from the groceries store and one thing i love about America we can buy everything baked and ready to eat :)
wish you guys a Happy Thanksgiving the only part you will be missing is black Friday shopping but you can do some on Christmas if you are here

lovelydharma said...

Hi there, Just found your blog through expat blogroll. You are almost inspiring me to make Thanksgiving - I do miss it so! This will be my 4th year without it. I can totally relate to having to do everything from scratch here. I even make peanut butter from scratch -- but I hauled a cuisinart down suitcase once cause I'm crazy like that... But a question for you -- were you able to find turkey without msg? I just pondered over a freezer full of turkey's in the grocery store and the all come pre-seasoned and every one had MSG... grrr. I"m in Juiz de Fora by the way. Nice to hear your adventures!

Emily said...


Thanks for stopping by - I'll have to come over and read up on you next week when I have some more time!

To answer your turkey question, no. I searched a half dozen different stores trying to find an unseasoned turkey, but to no avail. All seasoned, all containing MSG. Next year maybe I'll have to get real pioneer-like and grow, harvest, and pluck my own turkey too . . . hmmm, on second thought, maybe I'll just deal with the MSG-induced headache. ;)

AcesHigh said...

you shouldnt see that as WORK, but as a BUSINESS opportunity.

I mean, people cant really live without canned food. Well, actually they can. But good marketing can convince them otherwise :)

You need some initial capital, and there you have, your own brazilian factory of chicken broth (whatever that is), mushroom cream, pumpkin cream, etc.

Now, unless you want to go bankrupt, you must convince brazilians they need those things, through good marketing.

Just like NESTLE did with condensed milk. They put easy to make and delicious condensed milk recipes on the back of every condensed milk can, back in the 50s.

Now, like 99,999% of brazilian deserts do have condensed milk. And we think we need it and that life without condensed milk is impossible! (why Mars doesnt have life? Lack of liquid water? NOPE! Lack of condensed milk)