Hol­i­day cook­ing

The writer dis­cov­ers that pre­par­ing and par­tak­ing in a Thanks­giv­ing spread can be a mean­ing­ful time to­gether with fam­ily and friends.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - Story and pho­tos by MING TEOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

“Not what we say about our bless­ings, but how we use them, is the true mea­sure of our thanks­giv­ing.” – W.T. Purkiser

I’VE al­ways loved fes­ti­vals like Christ­mas, and also Thanks­giv­ing, which I wish was more widely cel­e­brated in Malaysia. Not only is it a time, as the year comes to a close, to pause and re­flect on all that we have to be thank­ful for and ac­com­plished dur­ing the year and to pre­pare our goals for the fol­low­ing year, and a won­der­ful time to spend with fam­ily and friends, but it’s also when some of my favourite dishes are pre­pared and served. Be­sides, thank­ful­ness is a qual­ity that is of­ten taken for granted, and we of­ten need days like this to re­mind us to be thank­ful!

Thanks­giv­ing is cel­e­brated mainly in North Amer­ica, on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber in the United States, and the sec­ond Mon­day of Oc­to­ber in Canada. It orig­i­nated as a day of giv­ing thanks for a good har­vest dur­ing the year, and al­though it his­tor­i­cally has its roots in re­li­gious and cul­tural tra­di­tions, it is now also cel­e­brated in a sec­u­lar man­ner and is a pub­lic hol­i­day in both the United States and Canada. To a lesser ex­tent, the celebration is also ob­served in other coun­tries.

I’ve al­ways won­dered why the dates for the celebration were ear­lier in Canada than in the United States, and dis­cov­ered that this is be­cause Canada is fur­ther up north and win­ters come ear­lier, hence, the har­vest­ing sea­son ends ear­lier, and the thanks­giv­ing comes ear­lier.

This year, Thanks­giv­ing was held on Oct 14 in Canada, and I had the priv­i­lege of not only cel­e­brat­ing a true Cana­dian Thanks­giv­ing at my cousin’s home in Canada, but also help­ing to pre­pare it to­gether with her fam­ily.

I dis­cov­ered that while each fam­ily has its own unique tra­di­tions for Thanks­giv­ing, there are cer­tain as­pects that are sim­i­lar: it is a time for the fam­ily to get to­gether over a spe­cially-pre­pared sit-down meal that usu­ally in­volves roast tur­key and stuff­ing. And this is usu­ally served with gravy and home­made cran­berry sauce. For desserts, there is al­ways pump­kin pie, among oth­ers.

For the sides, there are steamed or boiled veg­eta­bles like green beans, cau­li­flower and broc­coli, of­ten served with cheese sauce. Some­times there are also roasted veg­eta­bles like but­ter­nut and acorn squash and “smashed” or mashed pota­toes, or vari­a­tions pre­pared with ex­otic ad­di­tions like goat’s cheese and chives.

As with most fes­ti­vals, prepa­ra­tions start the night be­fore with the tur­key stuff­ing which is my favourite item in the meal. In fact, I have to ad­mit that I en­joy this even more han the tur­key! Af­ter we got home from a night out, my cousin, her friend and I pre­pared to dice and mix all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether, and leave it overnight to soak in the flavour.

For golden mo­ments: The ta­ble decked out in the colours of fall.

It looks quite a feast when the spread is all laid out on the side ta­ble.

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