Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The start of Thanksgiving Preparations

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I was very against having to get up this morning. There is a screen over my window, so I can’t see outside from my bedroom, but I can always hear the rain pelting the glass because it is blown sideways from the wind. It also hails about 2-3 times a week, so that makes it even louder. I’m certain all the windows have to be shatterproof!

This morning was no exception. Usually the rain waits to start when all the people are going out; it is mostly dormant at 6 in the morning. However, today it started early, but luck was smiling on me because by the time I got outside, it had stopped.

I have begun to get in the habit of running to work. I am wearing my tennis shoes anyway and it is cold. I see it as a safer way of getting to work and a good form of exercise to wake me up. Plus, if it is raining the quickest way from point A to point B is to run.

The shipment at work was on the lighter side, and that made things more sociable. I informed my boss I would be leaving in a week, and although not thrilled, that was ok by her. My co-workers were harder to convince. They seemed genuinely sad to hear I was leaving in a week. Although excited for me about the prospect of returning home for a job, they all talked about how much they would miss me, even though they knew I was going to leave around Christmas anyway. I think I will miss the too, especially a select few. I will be a little sad I can’t stick around for the company Christmas party, but seeing how the Irish party, I don’t know I could survive it!

After work I finished picking up a few Christmas gift ideas for all my friends and then went home for my oh so wonderful 2 hour nap.

It continued to rain on and off all day, so I was glad today was a cooking day. I have so much to prepare. Dinner with Mr. Kester is tomorrow and Thanksgiving is Thursday. I am going to fix a marinated pork chop and stuffed bell peppers for Mr. Kester and Thanksgiving will include: turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and sweet potato soufflé.

Today, I started on the sweet potato soufflé and stuffing. The turkey is thawing and it will be prepared on Thursday since we aren’t eating till 10pm when everyone gets back from class!

The dressing calls for cornmeal and I have been to all possible grocery stores looking for it, but to no avail – I have substituted it for wholemeal self rising flour. Cornbread does not exist in Ireland; therefore, neither does cornmeal. It’s kind of sad, but other than getting corn (which is rare), drying the kernels and grinding them up, I am at a loss on that one.

This will be my first turkey and my first Thanksgiving dinner prepared by moi! It’s kind of exciting, but no one need get any ideas back home. I’m not fixing Christmas dinner!

Cooking here is an adventure. I went from having one mixing bowl at the last apartment to no bowls at this apartment. However, there is an assortment of pots, so I just mix everything in a pot with a spoon or a fork. The baking pan situation is limited, so I have developed a liking of baking parchment. It works wonders with clean up and sticking.

The cornbread turned out alright I guess. I crumbled up the wholebread as much as possible and added it to the dressing mixture. The potato soufflé was a little greasy and runny when I pulled it out of the oven, but it eventually set up quite nice. I’m not sure I made it correctly with the topping because the topping sank to the bottom, but my theory is that it is mostly the same ingredients, so it should still taste good!

At 7:30 I had organized a large group of people to meet at a pub in town. I was not sure how many people were coming, but there seemed to be a lot of interest. When Zach and I arrived, Kathleen was there. We sat and talked for some time. The Italian guys were the next to show up. Jacaopo, Samuelle, Luca and Michaele (I’m sure I butchered the spelling of those names). Since Kathleen didn’t make it to the Christmas party, we introduced her to the guys and they proceeded to get along well. The Italian men I have met outside of Italy seem to be a complete 180 from the Italian men I met in Italy. These guys and Roberto are cordial, funny but not rude, polite and even a little shy (at least not boastful and boisterous). An Italian woman I work with said she didn’t know many Italian here and I told her I knew one (Roberto). She said to be careful because Italian men can be “not so good”. I laughed in agreement, but smiled knowing that good Italian males do exist!

The Canadians were the next group to walk in; Laura, Kristyn, Julie and Jennifer (Canadian visiting from Cork). I switched off between ends of the long table we had trying to talk to everyone. I was loving it! Beatrice and Clara were the next to arrive, followed by Julie and Roberto (who entered together). According to Beatrice, Roberto had invited Julie over for dinner. This was the reason that when I went to borrow a baking pan from him he was preparing fish for dinner and 3 hours later when we went to see if he wanted to walk with us, he said he was just eating. It seemed fishy : ), but that explained it. I got messages from both Marta (in London) and Paula asking if I knew whether Roberto was alright because he did not show up for English class and couldn’t be reached on his phone. I gently scolded him and he felt a little bad for making them worry.

Patrick, the English guy from work, showed up to join Laura and the rest of the girls. They eventually left for a music venue, while the rest of us stayed to finish up the night. Jacaopo tested me on my Italian and made a game out if it. I seemed to surpass his expectations, and I certainly surprised myself with how much I remembered. He and Michale thought it was fun to say sentences and see if I could understand them. I will be honest and say I enjoyed showing off too. They told me I should visit Saturnia, Italy. It is a little village in Tuscany where you can get a hot mineral bath from hot springs. Sounds nice to me! Only problem is that no trains and maybe no buses go there.

Three of the Italian guys were headed back on the 1am bus to Dublin for a flight home. So, at midnight the four of them, Roberto, Zach and I walked home. We said many ciaos and goodbyes then parted ways. Zach told Roberto he hoped he and Julie hit it off together. I thought for a moment and then asked Roberto if he knew the meaning of “hit it off”. He said no, so I proceeded to explain that it meant to get alone well with each other. It was a little later than I would have liked, but my days are numbered and I want to spend as much time with the people who have made my trip worth it.

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