11 October 2012

Autumn Holidays

I love October, just as it turns dark, cold and miserable you get a couple of holidays to cheer you up! Well you do back in Canada at least. Granted it's hard to capture the magic of a holiday while in another country, but it's also a chance to share my heritage and traditions. 

The first in the calendar is Thanksgiving. The second Monday in October, it's a time to appreciate what you have. I can't say we hold a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. My parents are originally from Yorkshire, so the holiday was slightly adapted. When it came to dinner, Mum stuck to what she knew. So thanksgiving dinner was virtually identical to Christmas dinner - just without the crackers, cake & pudding! I'm not convinced the type of food really matters, so continue to serve steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing and lashings of cheese sauce.

Normally we'd invite a few friends or family to share our feast, but after a difficult summer we're still feeling a bit raw. Instead we decided to have a quiet evening to ourselves. It was a wise call in the end, as our simple (veggie) roast dinner turned into a comedy of errors. 

As I'd clerked the Quaker Business meeting that morning, Mr Goldfish offered to cook dinner. So after getting back later than planned, Mr Goldfish started by giving the kitchen a thorough clean - and while doing that he figured he might as well finish some of the other cleaning. Then all the peeling and preparing took longer than expected, so dinner was already running two hours late by the time we were ready to turn the oven on. 

I was in charge of making the extremely important cheese sauce. I was melting butter on the hob while Mr Goldfish fetched the flour. He popped his head around the corner and said "We can't make the cheese sauce and you don't want to know why." Turns out the plain flour I bought from ASDA a few months ago was completely infested with weevils...and they'd spread through the cupboard. After a thorough inspection we had to bin the icing sugar, a few half used bags of flour and a whole bag of golden granulated sugar! 

It was now quite late and the shops were shut, but it wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner without the cheese sauce. So I put out a distress call and the lovely @ChouxChouxbedoo came to my rescue. One emergency dash across town to borrow a cup of flour and dinner was saved (though now two and a half hours late)!

I did manage to take a quick photo before the cheese sauce arrived on the table. I'm amazed you can't see the steam that was rolling off! We've not yet turned the heating on and our plates created a thin fog between us, but finally we had our delicious reward!

Next on the calendar is obviously Halloween. I don't tend to make a big fuss for Halloween, as it just doesn't have the same spirit over here, but when the WI suggested a pumpkin carving contest how could I refuse?

As it's so early in the year, I waited till quite late to carve my creation. I doubt it will make it to Halloween, but I want it to last as long as possible! The plan was to carve it Sunday night, but Thanksgiving dinner rather obliterated those plans. So it was bumped to Monday.

By the time Mr Goldfish got home from work I had a raging headache that paracetamol wouldn't touch. He frog marched me up to bed to sleep it off. By nine it had mostly abated, but I just couldn't face getting bundled up again to come downstairs and carve a pumpkin. With no more time to delay, Mr Goldfish was forced to be creative. Up came a large table cloth, a chopping board, a few knives, a bowl and the pumpkin. I'm amazed to say I carved a pumpkin from start to finish, guts and all - in bed without a single spill!

And this fierce fellow is the result:

I couldn't believe Mr Goldfish had never carved a pumpkin before, so I shared all my tricks - like cutting a carrot shaped notch in the lid. This makes it easy to fit the lid back on perfectly every time.

A busy weekend that brought back many memories of home, now I need to start planning for Christmas!