A Moveable Feast

I’ve been talking to all of my British colleagues and friends about our 2010 Thanksgiving dinner, a moveable feast which we are cooking in London tomorrow.  Most British people know that Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of the month and that we eat turkey.  One waggish person asked me if Thanksgiving started to celebrate throwing off British rule.  (One thing I love about my adopted compatriots is their sense of humour.)

Tonight, Steve and I are doing the prep for our dinner.  Steve soaked the turkey in brine for seven hours and mixed up a sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing.  We just drained the bird and will transport it to London on ice tomorrow, assemble the stuffing and roast it in my cousin’s oven.  I made a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie in a ginger snap & pecan crust.  I’m roasting some sweet potatoes mixed with butter, brown sugar and spices.  Tomorrow, these will be reheated, topped with  miniature marshmallows (which I mail ordered from American Soda) and put under the grill to brown.  I also mixed the dry ingredients for cornbread and put them into a Ziploc baggie with the next steps written on the outside.  This nestles in my 8″ square cake pan.  The cornbread is a special request for John, my cousin’s husband who hails from Minnesota.  He and I both grew up eating oven baked cornbread, not fried stovetop cornbread.

I’ll be making Heavenly Hash too.  This is a type of ambrosia or fruit salad containing miniature marshmallows, maraschino cherries, chopped apple, canned mandarin orange segments, banana slices, chopped walnuts and a tiny amount of chopped pickles.  All held together with whipped cream tinted with maraschino cherry juice.  I made it last year and Steve was very surprised when I asked him to put it on the table with the other side dishes.  He thought it was dessert!  Speaking of side dishes, my cousin Susan is making a recipe of her Mom’s.  A French bean and canned cream of mushroom soup concoction topped with crispy fried onions.  Last but not least, cranberry sauce.  We just made a Jamie Oliver recipe from fresh cranberries, Bramley apples, sugar, a cinnamon stick and a glug of The Somerset Pomona – a blend of apple juice and cider brandy.

We’re also taking ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ DVD to watch.  I grew up in Southern California and associate my Thanksgiving TV with The Twilight Zone.  KTLA Channel 5 used to air a nonstop marathon on Turkey Day.  I suppose we’ll watch a few episodes on YouTube as well.  I’ve seen ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ a couple of times.  Peanuts are always fun and my cousin’s little kids will like it, I hope.

Another holiday favourite of mine is Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.  We plan to watch it nearer Christmas, just as we did on our first Christmas together in a wolf sanctuary in Shropshire.  I just had to listen to this song from the film tonight though and found this clip.  Spot the date change for Thanksgiving Day?

Abraham Lincoln had declared Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November in 1863 and it had come to be universally accepted.  In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November, in part to extend the holiday shopping season by one week and give a boost to the economy during the Great Depression. There was huge public protest. Some referrred to the newly positioned Thanksgiving Day as “Franksgiving.” Roosevelt’s decision was quickly politicized, with some people in some states celebrating the holiday as the “Republican Thanksgiving” on the fourth Thursday in 1939, and others celebrating the “Democratic Thanksgiving” on the third Thursday.  Congress intervened in 1941, taking the date out of the president’s hands and mandating Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November.

One last thing we did tonight was to print off a Google map of our route into London.  So we’re off to bed and looking forward to an early start with our Thanksgiving meal on wheels.

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