Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving in Russia a Thanksgiving dinner is tough. Its Sunday night in Mytishi right now, and I am counting down the minutes until my family comes online to Skype during their Thanksgiving meal...and then I can go to bed! I haven't gotten much sleep this weekend, but it has definitely all been worth it.

Multi-tasking: mashed potatoes, stuffing, ratatouille, and gravy all goin' at once

On Friday evening after teaching my group of advanced teens (who are not quite so advanced as I was led to believe, but that's another story), I made my way over to Rhea's to prepare some apple pies for the big feast. I was really tired and planned to go home after a few hours of prep, but then, to my surprise, Rhea received a phone call from Colleen, my flatmate. It turned out that somehow the huge bolts on the door to our flat had retracted, effectively locking Colleen in, and Stuart and I out.

We didn't think this was going to be a problem at first, but since this is Russia, it meant that Stuart and I wouldn't be able to get into our flat until Saturday afternoon, because the locksmith company wouldn't be able to come until then. Not to mention, the administrators at our school here had to show the company written proof that Stuart and I actually live in the flat, because otherwise we could just be thiefs trying to break in. Um yeah...and what about the girl trapped inside the apartment?! What if Stu or I were diabetic and needed to get into the flat to take our medication? Or Colleen had some emergency? Needless to say, none of us were too impressed by the situation. But, what can you do? Rhea and I put on some Jersey Shore and Glee and got peeling some apples.

(Stuart, on the other hand, had to deal with an angry babushka in our apartment building who was raving about calling the cops on him, since she was convinced he was trying to break in...)

I slept over at Rhea's, and the next morning Dima came to pick us up for one last turkey search. It turned out to be a futile search (which was probably a good blogger friend Nate just commented on how a turkey last year in Mytishi cost them 16,000 roubles!!). We did find turkey pieces, and for a few brief minutes we hysterically considered buying the individual pieces and somehow trying to assemble a whole turkey out of it - wouldn't that have been hilarious? We settled on two chickens though, and picked up some other stuff - plastic cups, plates, napkins, ice cream (sold in a bag rather than a plastic container or a box like Chapman's), and a bunch of ingredients for the salad Dima was planning to make (a "Cleopatra" salad - very traditional in the Russian sense because it uses a LOT of crab meat, pineapple, black olives, and mushrooms).

Then we headed back to my flat, arriving there just as the locksmith company was fixing my door - perfect timing! By this time it was around 3pm, so we didn't have a lot of time to waste dilly-dallying. Right away, I prepped the chickens (rubbing olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, thyme, rosemary, and basil on them, and stuffing them with some onions and garlic) and got them into the oven.

Dima cutting up the olives for his salad; Rhea and Hannah in the background getting the pecans ready for pumpkin pie!

All in all, it took us about 4 and a half hours to get everything ready; in this time, a bunch of guests had arrived and were just drinking and enjoying Colleen's amazing appetizers (roasted pumpkin seeds and mushroom caps stuffed with Roquefort cheese and bacon). There were 22 of us, which was a little intimidating at first, but luckily there was enough food for everyone! My friend Michael, from Munich, brought me 16 authentic Oktoberfest bratwurst, as well as some mustard, so I cooked them up too and they were a big hit! Ooh - also added some Canadian decorations which I ended up wearing as the night progressed...

From this...

To this...Canadian pride!

The rest of the night was very solid - lots of drinking, chilling, and listening to music. My Canadian playlist, unfortunately, was quickly changed by my dear American friends, who clearly have no taste for true talent (haha). Here's a sample of the music I had picked out:

Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
If I Had a Million Dollars - Barenaked Ladies
Keep on Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young
Best I Ever Had - Drake
Banks of Newfoundland - Great Big Sea
American Woman - The Guess Who
No Sugar Tonight - The Guess Who
Patio Lanterns - Kim Mitchell (woo! Sarnia shout-out!)
Baby - Justin Bieber (as a joke!)
Working for the Weekend - Loverboy
Closer to the Heart - Rush
Man! I Feel Like a Woman - Shania Twain
New Orleans is Sinking - The Tragically Hip
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion (again, as a joke!)

Sigh. Like I said, no appreciation for real art. :)

Here are some more pics from the night:

Hannah and I, with the delish cookies she made!

Apple pie with crumb topping

My flatmates, Colleen and Stuart, and I, showing off our pumpkin pie. What you can't really see in this picture is how dark our kitchen is (we have one light bulb, so cooking after sundown is pretty much impossible) and that we're using a flashlight to check on our pie. Oh, and our oven has no temperature gauge or numbers written on it, so we have no idea how hot the oven actually is)

About 10 or 12 people ended up crashing at our flat, which is great because our flat is pretty palatial compared to Moscow standards. The pull-out chair/bed that one of my friends slept on was even bigger and longer than the little "coffin-bed" he sleeps on in his Moscow flat! Dima passed out fairly early, sitting totally upright on the couch, and whenever Iain would mention Belarus (where Dima is from), he would jerk his head up in response in his sleep. It was hilarious! Especially when Iain started talking about the upcoming Belarussian elections and joking that Dima was the perfect example of how Belarussians vote. "Just nod your head, Dima, that's what Lukashenko (the president of Belarus since '94) wants!" Then Dima would nod his head in his sleep, almost like a puppet.

Mmm getting sooo sleepy...and my bed is looking so inviting...Canadian Thanksgiving was probably one of the best ones I've ever had, and so, in the spirit of thanksgiving, I will end this blog with a few things I am thankful for:

- My amazing new friends here from all over the world - the US, Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Belarus, and Russia - who helped me celebrate my country's holiday this weekend

- My family, who I got to see and talk to tonight - I love you and miss you all so much!! Seeing you tonight made me SO happy!

- My health and the health of everyone I love in this world!

- And, to keep things from getting too sappy, the fact that I finally learned how to torrent the new episodes of Gossip Girl!

On that note, I think I'm going to climb into my bed and watch an episode now! Good night!


  1. lol i noticed u were wearing ur olympic mits :P way to truly represent

  2. You know, Prince Charles has a pair. And Oprah.

  3. Lol i think i remember katie actually told me that herself...thers no way she would not know something about the royal fam

  4. Oops..I meant "6,000 RUB" not "16,000"...can you imagine a $600 turkey?

  5. that sounds like a great night katie! congrats on pulling everything together in time despite the broken door obstacle :) mmm turkey

  6. Your play list sounds like something I would like. Speaking of tunes, I remember what I wanted to mention back in September. The title of your second blog I think; was it the ramones you were quoting in the title? If your dinner tasted half as good as it looks I am sure all guests were impressed. Good job everyone!

  7. Hey Dad, yes it was the Ramones :) I knew you would like my Canadian playlist - any more good ones to add?

  8. As a former resident of that apartment with Nate - I found your blog through his - I am very impressed you actually managed to use the oven for large-scale thanksgiving-ish cooking. It looks like it was fun, hope you're enjoying living there

  9. Tom, I just want to say that I am very much enjoying Katie living in that apartment. It is teaching me valuable life lessons, like that knowing the temperature really isn't important when cooking things in the oven.

  10. haha isn't that oven horrible, TE Wonder? We basically just stuck the chickens in there and cooked them for like 4 hours...other than that though the flat is awesome, I love my bedroom!(which I think was yours last year?)