One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It combines two favorite pastimes - visiting with friends and eating!
Of course the main ingredients of Thanksgiving are 1) people, 2) TURKEY, 3) Mashed potatoes and Gravy, 4) Cranberries, 5) Green bean casserole, 6) Pumpkin bread (at least in my house) and 7) Deserts. Of course one can throw in salads, appetizers, sweet potatoes, etc. But the basics are a must (#6 is an absolute in my house).
This year there did not seem much enthusiasm for Thanksgiving and no one was talking about having a get together. No dinner invitations were being handed out, so rather than miss out on the fun, my husband and I decided to host a private Thanksgiving Dinner at a public restaurant. We made sure the party took place from Noon until 5 p.m. when the restaurant would officially be open for business. We ordered a couple of turkeys from our local store and I sent out invitations asking people to sign up to contribute various dishes to the celebration. The response was great. All invited wanted to attend and everyone was willing to bring a dish.
We set the dinner for Friday, November 25th as Thursday, typically, is grocery shopping day in town and sometimes it can take most of the day depending upon what you are waiting for. This was not a problem and no one had a problem with celebrating on Friday as opposed to the official Thursday of Thanksgiving.
The turkey(s) I ordered arrived. I thought they would send 2 12-13 lb. turkeys, as that is the usual weight one gets here. But, no, they sent two 21 lb. turkeys! So I kept one in my freezer and took the other up to Claus at Manati who said he would cook it in his outdoor oven and make the dressing. I was to make the gravy, green bean casserole and pumpkin bread. At the last minute I decided to make a salad for a friend that had given me pure maple syrup for a special dressing I make and a special salad to go with it. Since he gave it to me a few months back, I figured it was time to pay up.
The day of the dinner dawned and wonder of wonder, we had sunshine, calm seas and beautiful blue skies. All October and part of November we have had lots of rain and we were just glad to see it brighten up to make traveling easy.
I had taken the time from a couple of my crochet projects to make myself a new shell with a cowl and was able to finish it the night before the party (see photo above). We went to Manati early to help set up but Annette had most everything under control, along with the help of her worker, Jessica.
The guests started arriving, appetizers were set out and the feast began.
As an extra, my husband recently has gotten back into the geological history of Guanaja and brought maps and a paper written by two geologist in 1963. They came to the island to research the topography and cataloged the types of rocks found here. Locals have assumed for years that his island is formed from volcanic rock. However, this is not true. We have a rock here - at Black Rock - which looks live magna but it is not. This island is located 40 miles from a fault and the island itself was formed by the constant moving and shifting of plates under the sea. Utila is the only island that has any remnants of a volcano. Pumpkin Hill is the sight of an old cone. Anyway, Mike has always been interested in rocks and took some time from activities of the day to explain the island's makeup to those who were interested.
About 2 p.m. Claus, who had been cooking the turkey for almost 6 hours, declared it to be ready and brought it in. George was elected to carve (and what a grand job he did too. We got our plates and lined up for the food.
We also had bottles of champagne donated by myself, Kate, Gar, Bryan and Uli and we drank a toast in remembrance of people who were special to us or meant a lot. Each individual called out the name of that person when we said "A toast to ........" I gave a short synopsis/history of what Thanksgiving means for Americans and we dove in to the food.
I wish I had remembered to ask my husband to take a photo of the spread but, alas, I did not. Fortunately for me, Kate brought a camera and took a picture of the turkey - the main attraction.
We were about 18 people in all and we managed to clean up almost all of the food! With the exception of some turkey, green beans, salad and still lots of mashed potatoes, we managed to show our appreciation for the efforts of those donating by eating up the goods! Of course we were then lucky enough to have Joan make 3 beautiful pies; cherry, apple and pumpkin with whipped cream to top off the meal! Fantastic! And a special big thank you to Claus who did a fantastic job cooking the turkey. For the first time ever, the white meat was actually juicy and moist! Just the way it should be. It would not be appreciated, however, by the islanders who are accustomed to their poultry fried and dry. When they get juicy poultry they think it feels "slimy" and send it back to be cooked until there is no moisture left in it! To each their own.
I thank all those who attended and especially those who contributed to our beautiful dinner. I especially want to extend my best to all my friends and family and I hope they had just as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did on the island.
Now.......on to Christmas and more food!