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.
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…
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.
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!