A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about family, friends, and food. This year I was blessed with two stellar Thanksgiving celebrations and I could not be more grateful for all the wonderful people I got to spend this holiday with. Big love and thanks to my parents, my brother, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, the Chadha family, and my amazing bros & bitches scattered across the globe. You guys are some of the most inspiring and loving people I could have ever asked to be surrounded by and I am so, SO grateful for all of you.

THANKSGIVING NUMERO UNO

On Thursday about 75 Indian people piled into the Chadha household for their annual Thanksgiving bash. Let me be clear that this is NOT your ordinary Thanksgiving dinner. There is no sit down dinner. In fact, dinner isn't even served till about 11:30pm. Why? Because that's how Indian people do it. They also love to gather round the bar for 4 hours before dinner for shots of Patron and lots of Bollywood-style booty shaking. Yep. It's a thing, folks. It's a real and totally awesome thing.

Every year I look forward to this massive soiree with all my most favorite browntown peeps. I've grown up within this massive community that has most definitely become my extended family of aunties, uncles, and cousins. And I'm eternally grateful for all the wisdom, kind words, and blessings they have all passed my way over the years. It's a beautiful thing, friends, to have 75 odd people who love each other so much under one roof.

The feast, of course, was nothing short of spectacular. Two turkeys and about 18 different delicious side dishes. All potluck style. All freaking delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you again to the Chadha family for having us all over again this year!! We love you guys!

THANKSGIVING NUMERO DOS

In case one Thanksgiving with two turkeys and 75 people wasn't enough, we hosted a family Thanksgiving at my parents' house on Friday too.

This year I took on the daunting task of planning and cooking the feast for all 17 of us. And boy oh boy did I make a feast. Of course, I didn't do it alone. Mommy was the best sous chef a girl could ask for, my brother was a trooper and made two last minute grocery runs and also ran our dog Kodi around for two hours so that he would stop butting his nose into the oven every time I opened it, and my dad took charge of setting the table, arranging the appetizers, and stocking the bar (a critical part of any Thanksgiving meal). It was most definitely a team effort and it was so nice to get the whole family together again for the holidays.

I started gathering recipes about a month ago and carefully crafted my perfect menu. I made my grocery lists and even separated it out into categories (produce, dairy, etc...) despite my family's mockings. YES, OF COURSE I HAD A SUPER OFFICIAL CLIPBOARD WITH ALL MY PRINTOUTS AND LISTS... that were later defiled by my brother's friend Joe in the most hilarious way possible. Kudos, Joseph. I'll allow it.

Clipboard Trolls
Clipboard Trolls

The star of my show? A turkey named Oliver. I don't think I've ever channeled so much love or cooed for so long at a piece of raw meat in my entire life. I prayed to every Hindu deity I could think of that I wouldn't eff it all up and have to send my brother out for McNuggets. I read countless articles on how to cook a turkey - determined to be prepared for any and all disaster situations.

Oliver the Turkey
Oliver the Turkey

I'm not sure which of the above techniques landed up working (or if it was a careful combination of all of them) but my turkey.... the first turkey I had ever cooked by myself.... came. out. PERFECT.

I chose to dry brine our organic, fresh, 24lb bird two days before the feast. What's a dry brine? You basically massage salt into the skin, flesh, and cavity of the turkey and then just don't freaking touch it. After two days, rinse and dry your turkey and then smother that biotch in butter and herbs. Throw some roughly chopped veggies and herbs into the cavity, tie up them sexy legs, and that's it! You are ready for roasting.

I put Oliver into the oven uncovered for the first hour, covered for the next four, partially covered for another hour, and then pulled him out when all his insides were at a solid 165 degrees Farenheit and left him to rest for about 45 minutes.

Look at that sexy beast
Look at that sexy beast

Yeah. I did good. I'm gonna go ahead and toot my own horn on this one.... toot toot!

Of course, I didn't just make a turkey. Because you can't just do that. It's Thanksgiving. You need a million different sides to fill up your table and make everyone feel overwhelmed and fat before they've even started eating. That's the whole point, right? RIGHT?

This year I chose to make garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash & cheddar gratin, green bean casserole, kale stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted corn salad, a mixed green salad, and cream cheese stuffed bread rolls. There was plenty of gravy and cranberry sauce to go around too. My mom also made a DY-NO-MITE lobster mac&cheese, and one of my aunt's made two massive vegetable lasagnas. For dessert I made a pumpkin pie cheesecake, my cousin made fudge brownies, and my other aunt made a fresh apple pie from scratch.

You can pretty much say that we were all bursting by the end of dinner and dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't grab photos of all the food... but I did I manage to snap a quick shot of my cheesecake for you guys before the chaos ensued.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

After dinner we all gathered round the kitchen table for a good old fashioned game of family poker. Yes, we are a family that likes to gamble. So much so in fact that both of my ten year old cousins know how to play Texas Hold 'Em as well. Unfortunately, my cousin Kareena and I (the only girls at the poker table) landed up cleaning house and splitting the prize money. POWER PAMANI WOMEN! Next stop, Vegas...... when she's old enough. Don't worry, cuzzo, I'm counting down the days.

After the game, we wrapped up the clearing and cleaning, said our goodbyes, and face-planted into the couch. All in all, it was a perfect Thanksgiving. And I can't freaking wait for next year.

I hope that all of you had a most wonderful weekend with loved ones! I'd love to hear all about your holidays, so please don't forget to drop in a comment below or on my Facebook page!

With pumpkin flavored kisses, xx Nikbear

P.S. - Here's another TunesDaze pick!