It seems ironic that my second post revolves around food after I wrote at length about my fitness obsession just last week. Oh well! I love the holiday season – the food, shopping, family, friends, the festive atmosphere – and did I already mention the glorious food!!
Thanksgiving dinners in the past have always been with my friend making the showstopper turkey and the rest of us bringing sides. This year things shaped up differently somehow. Apart from the excitement that Gilmore Girls is coming back this weekend (can’t wait for it, but that has to be another post), there was more excitement for Thanksgiving than I had anticipated.
The WhatsApp Conversation
My friend Najla graciously offered to host Thanksgiving this year. Yay! She would make the bird and we would all bring sides. I offered to make yams and a green bean casserole. It was my tried and tested recipe – I had nothing to worry about. Somehow during the hundreds of WhatsApp messages exchanged for the Thanksgiving dinner (because what is the purpose of WhatsApp if you don’t have a gazillion messages on a group), it became apparent that we would need two good-sized turkeys. I suggested she do her traditional turkey and make another one with some Pakistani spices. She loved that idea. I told her a friend of mine – Saniya, had done it in the past and it was always a huge success. Fast forward 45 WhatsApp messages later and this is what transpired…..
The Evening Conversation
My hubby comes home from work and here is a glimpse of the conversation that follows:
Me: (hesitantly) ‘There has been a slight change in our Thanksgiving plans this year.’
Him: ‘Are we taking the turkey?’
Me: ‘Umm.. Yeah. We are. How did you know?’ (I’m thinking – is he reading my whats app messages? We are big (in fact huge) on respecting each other’s privacy so I know that is probably not the case)
Him: ‘You guys realized there were a lot of families, needed a second turkey, and you volunteered.’
Me: ‘I didn’t exactly volunteer. It just happened.’ (I still don’t know how it happened. I’ve scrolled and re-scrolled the WhatsApp messages several times)
So I was bringing a turkey with traditional Pakistani spices. How hard could that be. However, I don’t think anyone on the WhatsApp group knew I had never attempted to roast a turkey before. Ever.
Prepping the Turkey
This phase was somewhat easy. I decided to do a dry-brine as stated in the recipe. Thanks Saniya for the amazingly accurate recipe! Even though most people swear by the wet brine method, I quite liked the dry brine. Here are some pics of my marination.
The Frantic Conversations & Situations
The Turkey Swap
I bought my turkey and called Najla to reconfirm whether I should really go ahead with the Pakistani version. She said it would be good to have a different flavor. She herself is quite the culinary expert, so I trusted her judgement. Turns out with the recipe I was using, I needed a defrosted turkey like – yesterday!! Mine was still in the freezer. Frozen solid. She suggested I take her turkey since its already partially defrosted and I give her mine. Hence we did the ‘turkey swap’ 4 days before Thanksgiving.
The hunt for a meat thermometer and injector in Doha
Living in Doha, sometimes poses a challenge to find certain things that would be readily available elsewhere. I could not find a meat thermometer anywhere! I called stores, asked friends, neighbors, school PTA, the gardener. At last I managed to find one in one of the specialty stores here! Score!! Life would be good. Thanksgiving would be great.
Phone calls ‘excerpts’ below (for your reading pleasure) on Turkey Thursday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm between Najla and myself.
Me: The bird won’t go in the roasting pan!! It won’t fit in! Are we sure someone is bringing the chicken??!!!
Najla: My turkey isn’t turning the perfect golden brown like it’s suppose to in the first 45 minutes. It said that in all the numerous ‘How to roast a turkey’ articles I read online till 2am!!!
Me: I can’t get my turkey to slide off the rack and onto the platter. I think it will break- literally! Let’s leave it on the rack and garnish with herbs? No one will notice (hopefully!)
Najla : My meat thermometer isn’t working. At all.
Najla: I’m not getting any pan drippings. How will we make the gravy??? But do we really need gravy??!
Me: I’ve used my pan drippings. I’ll get chicken stock – let’s make chicken gravy to have with the turkey! (silently praying we have pizza as back-up!)
The Thanksgiving Meal
Our thanksgiving meal was amazing. It all came together perfectly. And what is Thanksgiving without any frantic runarounds.Two turkeys, two chickens, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, rice casserole, salads, biscuits, mac’n’cheese, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Pumpkin pie, apple pie and a chocolate cake to finish. Food coma had surely set in.
At times, it may seem like the turkey meal (and the amazing Black Friday deals) are the best part of Thanksgiving. But intrinsically it is remembering what we are thankful for. It is a time to find gratitude. A time to reflect on what is important to us and how blessed we really are.
I for one, am grateful for a wonderful family, exceptional friends and good health. My friends have been my absolute pillar of strength through some very trying times this year. I cannot thank them enough for always being there, sharing in my laughs, my craziness, my times of need, and for always willing to swap the frozen turkey when needed!
Now that Thanksgiving is over, and Black Fridays deals snagged, time to sit back and enjoy the much awaited ‘Gilmore Girls- a year in the life’!! Bring on the pizza!
Hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had time to reflect on how blessed all of us are in countless ways.