After spending all day Sunday and the first half of Monday cooking (the "oven" was on from shortly after we woke up until just before we went to bed on Sunday, and was turned off only slightly earlier on Monday) we ended up with a platter of roasted chicken pieces, bowls of roast onions and carrots, a pan of roast potatoes, a tureen of maple mashed potatoes, a mountain of herb bacon apple stuffing, a nice big pot of gravy, a marble-less marbled pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin cheesecake brownies (that had to be rescued before going into the oven as the new pan turned out to be a tiny bit too big for the oven and thus U had to attack it with pliers to get it to fit, thankfully not harming the brownies, which actually turned out marbled!).
(apologies for the horrible photography, but it was on my phone and taken rather hurriedly)
Since this list was a rather significantly lacking in veggies I asked invitees to bring veggies or an appetizer... and learned (again) that as unlikely as a guest in Japan is to arrive at a friend's home without a gift for the host, potluck parties are just not common or truly understood. Only two guests made dishes - a delicious marinated mushroom salad that was the perfect complement (decided upon after much discussion with me) and cheese and ham and tomato bites that were handed to me as my suddenly distraught friend yelled "you can't eat tomatoes!" Another coworker brought cheese and crackers, but since she arrived late, just before we started eating, I ended up putting her appetizers out after the meal and deserts (which had the added bonus of meaning they weren't eaten, leaving me with brie and sharp cheddar and crackers for lunch today!) Two other friends, who I know can cook, brought bottles of sparkling wine, and the final guest brought two small fruit pies.
(again, a hurried phone picture)
In the end, however, it turned out for the better. Despite U's assertions I was making way too much food, we had a house full of guests and just the right amount of food, with only a small bowlful of leftover veggies making it to the soup pot along with the chicken bones. And desert stretched on through the two courses I had made to the two fruit pies, with the cheese and crackers put out for anybody who wanted snacks with their drinks.
The bubbly was the perfect way of sharing a toast over a Thanksgiving tradition - everybody saying what they are thankful for. It was a wonderful evening of friends and food, and made me aware again of just how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends - work friends, Girl Scout friends, school friends new and old.
I am also very thankful for how much U enjoyed himself too, surrounded by my friends he had a great evening and was the perfect host - helping me prepare the food, doing loads of dishes in our mini-dishwasher, pouring drinks, and chatting with guests.
It was the perfect way to start a new tradition for us, one that I am already looking forward to repeating next year. (Although I think I'll just skip asking people to bring food and suggest they bring beverages as we came perilously close to running out of those!) It was also the perfect occasion to use some very special dishes, those chosen by my mother before her marriage to my father. Brought to Japan carefully in batches since U and I moved to our new place, I now have the complete set (minus one cup, but with a saucer that seems to have been in about a dozen pieces a rather long time ago) and love being able to use the dishes as they mean a lot to me and I know my mum would want me to be using them.
Pumpkin cheesecake with whip cream, on my mum's plates
Although the bubbly may have run out, let me offer a toast to you - Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you and yours! (and what are you thankful for this year?)