An Aussie Thanksgiving

My flatmates as we prepare to eat our Thanksgiving dinner - Mia, Miel & Sarah

Macaron Day (Sunday, November 27th) was also the day my flatmates & I planned to celebrate my first Thanksgiving abroad (& their first Thanksgiving ever!)  They wanted me to have a taste of home, so they graciously agreed to help me prepare a turkey feast complete with all the trimmings . . . & they were quite curious to try candied yams . . . marshmallows?  On vegetables?!  Yes, we Americans are a strange bunch. 😉

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the whole thing – as the only American in the bunch, I was suddenly the “expert” & was expected to know things like how to roast a turkey – never mind the fact that I’d never done this before & pretty much the only raw meat I ever touch are boneless, skinless chicken breasts – I have to pull what out of where?!  :-/  I figured the least I could do was to purchase the bird & I’d already done (well, some of) my research & found a 3.4 kilo (7.5 lb) turkey at a local supermarket, so I knew exactly what I was going to get.  This was actually a whole turkey as we weren’t able to find just the breast, but it seemed relatively small so we figured it would work for the four of us (with lots of leftover turkey sandwiches for the week to come).  I decided I would wait until Saturday night after work to pick it up – since we have limited space in both our freezer & fridge, I figured this was the smart thing to do . . . Yeah – didn’t think about the fact that a 7.5 lb turkey can take up to 48 hours to defrost . . . now what?!

Fortunately my flatmate Mia is studying to be a chef, so I figured she’d have some tricks up her sleeve . . . & I was right!  After leaving the turkey in the fridge overnight we were able to finish defrosting it in cold water in the kitchen sink.  Even though Mia had never actually cooked a turkey before, she had some great ideas about how to prepare it.  First she “trussed” the turkey (I tried to tell her it was already dead & probably wouldn’t be able to climb out of the pan on its own, so I really saw no need to tie it up, but she just wouldn’t listen).  Then she seasoned it with oil, garlic, thyme, lemon & a whole host of veggies.  She even draped strips of bacon over the top to help keep it from drying out!

Our Turkey - all dressed up & ready to go in the oven!

The next big hurdle was just waiting for the darn thing to cook!  We didn’t have a meat thermometer, so we just had to keep checking it to see if the juices were running clear.  I don’t know about Mia, but I had a really hard time figuring this out!  We kept giving it another 15 minutes . . . & then another 15 minutes . . . until finally we were satisfied that we would not all die of food poisoning if we ate it. 😉

Is it done yet?!

We were all so proud of our finished turkey!!  But like good chefs & bloggers we had to snap a few photos before we could even think about eating.  We were like food stylists, crafting the perfect backdrops & searching for the best angles from which to point our lenses.  We decided the turkey didn’t quite stand out enough on the plate, so we made it a bed of lettuce to give it a little color. 🙂

My First Turkey! OK, I guess I already admitted I had nothing to do with it - it was all Mia!!

The “tree” in the picture below does not usually sit on our kitchen table but it made a nice addition to our autumnal theme, so into the photo it went! 😉

Our Beautiful Thanksgiving Spread

In addition to the turkey, Mia made the candied yams as well as some basil mashed potatoes! (way above & beyond, Mia!)  We got a basic recipe for the yams from my mom (yeah . . . I didn’t know how to do the turkey or the sweet potatoes – perhaps I should surrender my American passport? :()  Once I saw the recipe, I realized how simple the yams actually are – cut them up & layer in a casserole with butter, brown sugar & marshmallows & bake until potatoes are soft & marshmallows are brown . . . except that when we went to check on them the marshmallows hadn’t exactly browned . . . instead they had, well, um, disappeared!!  I was just about peeing my pants at that point.  But surely if that was the only thing to go wrong then I’d say we did pretty well.  We had a few marshmallows left so we just threw them on top & left the casserole in the oven with the heat turned off for a few minutes – I think they look pretty good in the picture above & I can vouch for the fact that they tasted fabulous! 🙂

OK, so if Mia made everything I’ve described so far, then by now you’re probably wondering what the heck I actually made!  Well in comparison, not much!  I made my aunt’s broccoli stuffing & I bought a jar of cranberry sauce – that’s it!  Sarah made a salad & Miel made a pumpkin pie & by the end of the night were all stuffed! 🙂

Miel's Delicious Pumpkin Pie!

As I wrap up this post, I can’t help but contemplate the many things I have to be thankful for this year.  The opportunity to live abroad & experience another culture.  The fact that I found work (in a cupcake shop, no less!) so easily & the fact that I have been able (& will soon be able again) to leave work in order to travel.  My newfound barista & macaron-making skills.  Finding wonderful flatmates to live with during my time in Sydney as well as several other new friends during my travels.  And of course the wonderful family & friends from home that I love & miss so dearly!  Looking forward to seeing you all in 2012!


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Penny
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 02:43:54

    Dear Niki,

    This one made me laugh and cry. I’m so glad you found such wonderful flatmates and that they shared Thanksgiving with you. Can’t wait to see you next month.

    Much love…


  2. Heather
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 04:02:44

    Aww, what a great Thanksgiving, Niki! I’m so glad you and your flatmates were able to spend this time together and celebrate the holiday — even if Mia took on most of the cooking 😉


  3. Mindy
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 07:58:11

    I definitely have to have Miel’s recipe for the pumpkin pie, so it’s your homework to get it for me. That’s a great idea to put bacon strips on top of the turkey. Sounds yummy! As your time in Oz is coming to an end, I thought that you might like to bring me home a little souvenir. Not much……….just a pair of Uggs size 7.5. Gee thanks, you’re great! (your mom said you would). Take care, and have a great time in New Zealand. Of course, you know I am sooooooo jealous.


    • nicoleinoz
      Dec 08, 2011 @ 21:32:51

      Hmmm – I’ll have to try to remember to ask her for the recipe! I’m sure it was an American recipe anyway because pumpkin pie isn’t really done in Australia, but everyone here that’s tried it (my flatmates & some people from work) has liked it!
      Oh, yes, a pair of Uggs is just what I need to fill up my suitcase – I was worried it was going to be too empty. Would you like me to bring you home some pink diamonds while I’m at it? 😉


  4. Camille
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 13:35:42

    This is a post straight from the heart, in your usual warm and of course humorous way.

    You do have so much to be thankful for, and we are thankful for the warm, caring and wonderful daughter you are.

    To Mia, Miel and Sarah – thank you for making Thanksgiving 2011 a truly memorable (and delicious!) one for Niki. Great job girls!

    Love and miss you – MOM xo


    • nicoleinoz
      Dec 08, 2011 @ 21:36:07

      Love & miss you, too! You know I have been missing you & everyone back home especially around the holidays, but it was great to have my flatmates help me celebrate Thanksgiving from afar. Now I am gearing up to spend Christmas on the beach! 🙂


  5. Auntie Marilyn
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 00:52:23

    Hi Niki! So glad (you) did a Thanksgiving in Australia – what a wonderful memory for all involved. Your wonderful year of travel will live forever in your heart and your blog (for all of us). Yes, we all have a lot to be thankful for and need to remember to thank God daily for all the blessings he gives us. Looking forward to seeing you soon and hearing all about your travels in person! Love and miss you, Auntie Marilyn.

    P.S. – so how did the broccoli casserole turn out?


    • nicoleinoz
      Dec 08, 2011 @ 21:39:40

      Yes, I am so glad & grateful that I’ve had this year abroad & of course I miss everyone as well & will be sad to leave but happy to come home soon!
      The casserole turned out fine, but I think I liked it better the last time I made it (& when you’ve made it). I couldn’t find any “Stove Top” stuffing here – LOL – so I just bought some generic brand & I wasn’t crazy about it, but it was still good. 🙂


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