What a difference a year makes. Last Thanksgiving we had five people at our table (including Garrett and I). This year, 13.
And no, our guests weren’t Casper and all his friends, I just never managed to take a flattering picture of everyone (ie – sans food in their mouths) to post on the blog. Here’s what I mean:
Sorry friends! But you probably don’t read my site, so therefore I don’t have to worry about you getting angry that your eyes were closed for this one (which is half of the group).
Also different than last year, everyone brought dishes! Man does that take the stress away… even though I’m somewhat of a control freak in the kitchen and LOVE planning out a meal in its entirety. But for 13 people, no thanks. I welcomed all the help that was offered!
My friend Kerstin decorated the tables beautifully, don’t you think!? She made festive vases out of hollowed out sugar pumpkins that she painted sparkly gold. She also picked out and arranged all the flowers. The final touch, candlesticks of different shapes and sizes. Classic and lovely.
To accomodate the number of guests, we pulled in our terrace table from outside and joined it with our dining room table. The two tables were exactly the same size in width! Who knew! Kerstin cut some white fabric she had lying around in her house (conveniently) and did a make-shift table cloth. It worked brilliantly!
I could tell you about a few disasters I had in the kitchen. Like how I tried to brine an 18 lb turkey for the first time. Given, this is only the SECOND turkey I’ve ever cooked. I bought and brining bag when I was back in the States just for the occasion. I followed a recipe and boiled two gallons of water mixed with peppercorns, bay leaves, herbs, orange peels, salt and sugar. I got my huge bag ready in the sink, poured in the cooled brine mixture (all TWO GALLONS) and carefully lowered my baby… I mean, turkey… into the mixture. All was good at this point. I actually thought the hard part was over.
Then, I decided that I could lift the bag, holding two gallons of water and an 18 lb turkey, and move it out of the sink and onto the roasting pan on the kitchen counter. And with a lot of careful maneuvering, I did it! And just about as quickly as I got the turkey on the tray, the bag unsealed and about a gallon (not kidding) of brine mixture flooded my kitchen counter, my kitchen floor and much of it was completely covering me. I called Garrett at work and told him that I may or may not have ruined Thanksgiving. Thankfully, this was Wednesday night. There was still time…
In natural husband form, or Garrett form, he came home and saved the day. I had already cleaned the awful mess, so he just came home to the smell of citrus and herby brine mixture, not the sight of it. He then was able to move the big ass bird into the fridge. All was good until the morning came and I had to empty the brine and get the bird ready for roasting. And this is where I tell you that I managed to spill the brine mixture all over the floor… again. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
The bird turned out good. Not sure I’ll ever brine again, but would you? Everyone brought delicious food and boy oh boy, did we have a spread! I didn’t stuff myself or drink as much wine as I could have, so I count those two things as accomplishments on Thanksgiving. Best of all, our table was filled with laughs and lively conversation. Most of us were far away from home, but we gathered together to recreate the family atmosphere we’re all use to and miss for Thanksgiving dinner. It was really nice.
I say what a difference a year makes because I remember when Garrett and I had just a few friends here (whom I still love and cherish, by the way). But, I now have girlfriends in a foreign country that I can call up any day of the week to go for a walk, or get together for girl time and drinks, or go to a movie that our husbands/boyfriends don’t really want to see (I may be talking Twilight here). It’s those kind of comfortable friendships that I’ve been longing for to make Antwerp feel more complete. And I tell you what, the company we keep really makes all the difference in our state of mind. I am so thankful for my Antwerp friends, for their stories, and for the experiences that we’re getting to share. Garrett and I are really lucky.