Thanksgiving 2014: candles, rain, & roast chicken

I find Thanksgiving one of the hardest times of the year to be away from home — after Christmas, it’s a close second. October in Nova Scotia is beautiful (just in case you need proof!), it’s a long weekend, you’re with family, etc. So, in the absence of a weekend like this, I created my own version on a very rainy Sunday afternoon in London. We were 3 Canadians, a German, a Spaniard, an Argentinian, a Cypriot, and an Australian = a pretty diverse crowd! And, aside from the chicken, the entire thing was VEGAN! Which, I have to say, I am proud of — not because I am vegan but because I am glad I was able to cater for people that often have to say “no”, turn things down, explain, and ask ingredients.

The idea started off by wanting to host a candle-making party. Ha! I am not crafty in the least but I was inspired by this post and thought it would be something fun to try. I bought the wax, wicks, and 8 jars and we spent the first part of the afternoon making them and drinking wine! Special thanks to H. who manned the melting wax! While it wasn’t as an interactive an activity as I’d hoped (it’s essentially one at a time as the wax takes a long time to melt), it was something new and fun to try.

Our candles
Our candles

* * *

MENU

Afternoon snacks
Chips, crackers, dips
Crudites Veggies
Soy sauce-roasted cashews (coming in a future post)
Pumpkin cinnamon buns (vegan)

Mains
Michael Smith’s roast chicken with apples
Roast carrots
Mashed potatoes
Panzanella
Penne with pesto, tomatoes, & rocket (brought by my friend P.)

Dessert
Apple crisp

* * *

All in all this was one of my least-stressful dinner parties so far. I’m getting better at managing time which I think is one of the keys to a successful meal. I made the cinnamon buns the day before as they were the most elaborate and I wanted to get them out of the way. On Sunday afternoon, I heated them up and made the glaze, but that was it. Making the rolls definitely involves a bit of work and in this case a bit of hunting for ingredients (chia seeds). These ones turned out much better than my previous attempt, although I did find them a little on the dry side (some day I will try non-dairy-free ones!).

Ignore the odd-looking ones -- those are the ends.
Ignore the odd-looking ones — those are the ends.

Onto the main. I was extremely impressed with Smith’s chicken recipe and I will definitely be making it again. The apples really add to the flavour and disintegrate to form the perfect jus/gravy. There were 7 of us eating chicken and we had a 2.4 kg bird along with 8 drumsticks, as per the farmer’s recommendation. This was more than enough and H. and I had enough leftovers to make a leftover potato/chicken hash and a chicken soup, along with some stock which is excellent (I used a modified version of Craig Flinn’s recipe).

Panzanella is one of my favourite salads and this one was really good. I prepped all of the ingredients beforehand and combined them just before eating, but next time I’d let it sit much longer — it is really the best when the bread has soaked up the dressing.

Finally, the dessert: I was a bit nervous making the crisp topping using non-dairy butter substitute, but it turned out fine. I prepped the apples and dry ingredients of the topping beforehand, and then melted the “butter” and combined it with the other topping ingredients before spreading onto the apple mixture and baking. You can’t really go wrong with apple crisp and vanilla ice cream (for those that can eat it)!

Just some of the ingredients, post-market
Just some of the ingredients, post-market

IMG_5988

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My plate
My plate
Colourful stock simmering the next day
Colourful stock simmering the next day
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