Cooking and Baking

We’ve lived almost 20 years in England. Early on in our time here we weren’t quite sure how to celebrate the more ‘American’ of holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Obviously, the days themselves don’t have national acceptance as a holiday with ‘federal’ recognition as a day off from work, let alone the four day weekend that comes with the latter of the two. And it initially seemed a bit bold to celebrate a day of Independence by ‘the colony that went bad.’ Over the years, we’ve seen and experienced the interest of friends who wonder what these holidays are about or those who take a moment to recognise these events from the land of our origin and wish us well.

So, over the years, we’ve been less reticent about celebrating and, in fact, appropriate the days to engage and make an excuse for gathering with our English Thanksgiving - Harvest Mealfriends. Thanksgiving has been a great way to do this, partially driven I must confess, by my love for all the foods that go with the holiday! We’ve been planning and inviting friends and the community to a Community Thanksgiving / Harvest Meal. Something fun and wonderful and intimate happens when people gather over a meal. Conversations and relationships have the opportunity to go deeper. We have many great memories of the years we’ve done this in England.

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One of the aspects I particularly look forward to is the day of cooking the day before we celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ve learned that scrambling to cook everything the day of the meal isn’t quite so relaxing, but doing so the day before is! So gathering the ingredients, putting on a movie or American football game or Christmas music and now in our technological day having a facetime conversation with the kids. Saturday was all about cooking! I baked four pumpkin pies, started the 24 hour slow cooking of my baked beans in the crock pot, and cooked an 8kg turkey. After the turkey cooled, it was cut up and deboned into two trays of meat to be heated prior to serving; the bones were boiled and broth for home-made gravy was saved.

What a relaxing and enjoyable day! Today, Day Twenty-Three of ’30 Days of grateful,’ I am thankful for food aplenty to share on the morrow, for the simple joy of cooking and baking and preparing for others to enjoy (who are similarly doing the same thing). I’m thankful for the day off from the computer and e-mails and other ‘demands’ upon me. And I’m thankful for the anticipation (and delayed gratification) of consuming the wonderful mixture of English and American cooking and baking with friends and church family, and new friends who will come to this gathering for the first time. Oh, and I’m thankful for the slice of pumpkin that I ate which couldn’t wait for Sunday!

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