Our slightly belated Thanksgiving!

Before we moved to Japan, Sam and I had gone to his parent’s house in North Carolina for Thanksgiving every year. We had this tradition for 7 years, but this year it would have been costly and impossible since I don’t get a Thanksgiving break in Japan. Instead we skyped with the attendants and I went to work like it was just another day. But I wasn’t so sad because Sam and I had decided that we would make the following Sunday our Thanksgiving, so that we could both work together to create our traditional feast!

Because the supplies for the feast are not what you would normally find in Japan, we couldn’t just decide on the day of what we were going to be making. I looked into prices and we discussed what were going to make more than two weeks ago. For example, we don’t have a large enough oven for the traditionally huge turkey that graces most American homes. Also, turkey is insanely expensive for us to get, since it isn’t common in Japan.

Instead of turkey we decided on a small, but whole, chicken, which we would also be able to stuff (stuffing is the most important part of the meal, people). This in itself wasn’t an easy find, as we hadn’t seen any in our grocery stores since arriving here. However! One fateful day, while shopping, I noticed at our local Aeon that they had two whole chickens stocked. That was two weeks ago and we decided that we didn’t need to buy it just yet but knew where we could get them.

We didn’t see them again for a week and a half…

We strategized how to find this illusive bird and decided that, this Thursday, Sam needed to go early in the morning so he would be able to maybe get one. When he was there he saw not one, but two chickens! We then gathered that, since this sort of thing isn’t common in Japan, they only have two a day/week and it sells out fast.

Now that we had our bird, we just had to finish the menu and make everything! And, skipping to the end, we did! We also took pictures of some of the making and finished results.

 

My caped wonder woman sock on the left and my Tarheel blue sock on the right.

My caped wonder woman sock on the left and my Tarheel blue sock on the right.

I began the day with a not-so traditional twist; I chose my habitually mismatched socks as a representation of our two respective homes. On your left you’ll see one that represents my family in San Diego and on the right you’ll see one that represents Sam’s in North Carolina. It’s not much, but they were with us in socks – I MEAN SPIRIT.

Anyway, we first went shopping, grabbed a ton of things, and started cooking at 4:30pm. It was late, but it was only for the two of us so we didn’t do too bad on timing.

I felt that it was necessary for us to make our own pie, this turned out to be insane, but most of my things I think are necessary turn out that way, so it’s really par for the course.

In Tateyama there would be no way for us to be able to buy an America style pre-made pie crusts and then just add the filling of our choice. Instead, I had to buy the materials to make the pie crust and then make it buy hand. What I didn’t realize, as I rarely cook since I’m working full-time, is that we don’t have any measuring cups. So… That crust turned out very interesting. And hard. But, it’s my pie so I’m still happy I didn’t buy one! Also, I couldn’t find a recipe that skimps on the butter, since it’s very hard to find right now. We don’t really know why…

Before! This is our rustic pie/tart/thing before I cooked it! It was huge. We also didn't had any of the supplies, such as a baking sheet, for the heating process, so that was fun...

Before! This is our rustic pie/tart/thing before I cooked it! It was huge. We also didn’t have any of the supplies, such as a baking sheet, for the heating process, so that was fun…

After! Please note that to make a crust turn out well, there is a delicate balance between the water and flour. That is why our's turned out harder than normal.

After! Please note that to make a crust turn out well, there is a delicate balance between the water and flour. That is why our’s turned out harder than normal. We didn’t have nearly enough butter to make a pie crust, and many Japanese stores seem to be in love with margarine…

After the pie, we set out to make the main dishes and sides. Our menu consisted of mashed potatoes (Sam’s mom’s recipe), stuffing (Sam’s dad’s recipe), a brined whole chicken which we covered with bacon on one side (my mom’s recipe, which I interrupted her evening hang outs to skype in for earlier in the day), chicken gravy (my mom gave me tips on how to get the juices and stuff from the gravy), string beans almondine (I have no idea if this is what they’re called; they’re string beans, shallots, and almonds), and some expensive sweet potatoes that we didn’t know how we would cook! For the brined chicken, we looked up a brine and did a very simple salt/sugar brine, but added a bay leaf for the chicken to hang out with while it stewed. We triple bagged it and had it hang out in the fridge for about… 7 or so hours.

 

Here's our bird cooking! We made a rack using vegitables, as per my mom's directions. We also threw in the half baked expensive sweet potatoes so they might get cooked in time for dinner. The chicken is also stuffed with two servings of stuffing! It tasted amazing!
Here’s our bird cooking! We made a rack using vegetables, as per my mom’s directions. We also threw in the half baked expensive sweet potatoes so they might get cooked in time for dinner.
The chicken is also stuffed with two servings of stuffing! It tasted amazing!

Here is our finished spread, sans the chicken carcass and pie.

Here is our finished spread, sans the chicken carcass and pie.

Our trays and plates! About to dig in!

Our trays and plates! About to dig in!

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

So, how was everything? IT WAS AMAZING!! The only thing that turned out merely okay was the pie crust. The stuffing was awesome, mashed potatoes were garlic’d to perfection, the gravy was delicious, the chicken was one of best I’ve ever had (we specifically cooked upside-down for half the time to make the chicken breast taste moist; totally worth it! Also the brining and baconing probably helped a ton), and the expensive sweet potatoes were down right delicious! We finished cooking at around 10 pm, finished cleaning and went to bed at about 12/1 am, and then slept in a few hours (only to wake up sore from an insane amount of cooking)!

While it sucks that we weren’t able to be with our families, we managed to do a great job of being with our families’ foods! Happy belated Thanksgiving!

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7 Responses to Our slightly belated Thanksgiving!

  1. deb92024 says:

    Not sure who are these attendants of whom you speak, but glad things went so well. Your pie looks great in spite of its shortcomings, or rather shorteninglesscomings. Glad we were with you in socks! Happy Thanksgiving! xox

    Like

    • owegami says:

      Sam’s fam planned a facetime session after their dinner before I headed out to work. So the attendants I was referring to were the people that attended their T-giving.

      Like

  2. kimsg870 says:

    Love, love, love~ and missing you so much. It was such a treat to Skype with you on TG. 🙂 I really want to visit~ I would definitely stay in a nearby hostel in town and tour Tatayama and environs on my own. When would be a good time to come visit? Btw, I rep’d you by wearing different color socks and sipping a beer that I know Suze would’ve enjoyed. 🙂 Ben and I finished our NC TG pilgrimage by driving to VA to visit Ben’s aunt for lunch, stopping in B’more for dinner, drinks and an overnight- it’s so weird staying at a hotel when once upon a time I lived a few blocks away…, and ending by returning our rental car to Philly. We ate lunch at an awesome luncheonette counter in Reading Terminal (Philly) called Di Nic’s. OMBuddha… Fabs!! Got home in time to basically prepare for Monday… 😦 Love you~ Auntie, ~K

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    • owegami says:

      Hey Auntie K,

      I work quite a bit, but you can come on over whenever! I have olden week off, in early May, but we might be out of town for that since it’s a chance for us to explore more of Japan.

      Your T-giving sounds like it was pretty fun! It’s too bad we weren’t there in person, but we made sure to send our digital selves, so that’s something.

      Like

  3. Bernie says:

    And a very, very happy Thanksgiving to the two of you. Good for you! Your cooking looks delicious!! Love you. Bernie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shanna Bryant says:

    Golly your chicken looked fantastic! I love the bacon idea (I secretly put some in my pumpkin pie). Jeff and I missed you guys so much but it was fun seeing you on FaceTime. Maybe next year we’ll have Thanksgiving in Japan! Seriously. We’ll bring a turkey.

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    • owegami says:

      Thanks! It tasted pretty awesome, too!

      As for Thanksgiving, let’s see where we’re at next Summer. Our kitchen is much smaller, and we only have one oven. And we can’t physically fit anything bigger than that chicken in our oven…

      Like

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